This week Canada’s Conservative government moved ever closer to enacting a tough new law designed to stop child-marriages, polygamy, and forced marriages from being brought here through immigration. But most of the bill’s contents would also make it far harder for native-born Canadians to practice polygamy.
The Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Practices Act, which has already been passed in the House of Commons and is now in committee in the Senate, also removes any possibility that the “honour culture” prevailing in many Middle Eastern countries could be used to mitigate murder charges.
But both opposition senators and advocates for the immigrant community have challenged the bill, which makes changes to several existing laws including the Criminal Code, Immigration and Refugee Act, and Civil Marriage Act, as unnecessary, counter-productive, and even racist.
Independent Sen. Art Eggleton challenged the bill’s sponsor, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, during committee hearings this week to explain why existing Criminal Code provisions against honour killing and polygamy were insufficient. Alexander responded: because both are still happening.