Mr. Chair, this deals with a very controversial part of this bill, as all members of the committee will know.
Let me confess that I find the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act strange to begin with, in that it basically makes illegal a lot of things that Canadians know to be illegal, such as killing in any form. It's already illegal. Making an honour killing illegal and saying we certainly want to thump our desks about that, to me, is more gimmickry than law-making, but in going forward with gimmickry, one shouldn't do damage to fundamental legal principles, such as access to the defence of provocation.
You did know from the evidence of the Canadian Bar Association and particular members of the bar.... Mr. Michael Spratt, a partner at Abergel Goldstein, spoke very forcefully, as you'll recall, about the risks with the way this section now works, where the allegation in some of the testimony, even from the minister, was that it was common practice to try to use the defence of provocation to reduce the severity of the crime from first degree murder to manslaughter on the part of someone who conducts an honour killing. This was described by Mr. Spratt as “reckless mischaracterization”.
We have not seen the defence of provocation succeed in honour killings, ever. We've seen it attempted only three times. The risk here is that in shutting this down, essentially shutting the door on a straw man, we might actually make it more difficult to have access to such a defence in cases when we would want to.
That's why my amendment puts forward a deletion.