Ambrose may have misspoken on honour crimes
It appears the federal minister for the status of women went off-message Monday when she indicated that the government was considering amending the Criminal Code to include so-called honour crimes.
During a news conference in Mississauga, Ont., Rona Ambrose condemned honour crimes, in which a family member harms or even kills another in a perverse attempt to defend the family's reputation.
When asked about a possible Criminal Code amendment Ambrose said the government is contemplating it.
"I'll say that it's something that we're looking at," Ambrose told reporters. "Nothing more than that at this time."
However, later Monday, a spokesperson for the Justice Department told The Canadian Press there is no truth to Ambrose's statement.
"There are currently no plans to do that," said Pamela Stephens.
"While we're always interested in new input into ways to improve the Criminal Code, currently honour killing suggests a certain motive or conduct. But regardless of the motive the law as it exists in Canada is clear that intentional killing is murder, regardless of the motive."
In a brief but strongly worded statement on honour crimes, to coincide with the release of a report on culture-driven violence, Ambrose said such actions have "no place in Canadian society."
"Killing or mutilating anyone, least of all a family member, is utterly unacceptable under all circumstances and we expect that such acts will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," Ambrose said.
"Honour-based violence cannot be justified with cultural relativism or nor can it be excused for fear of political correctness. These acts are an extreme and brutal violation of the values that we hold dear, and it is shameful that there are those who encourage and tolerate them."
Ambrose made her speech in a city just west of Toronto that was recently rocked by a crime many considered an honour killing.
Sixteen-year-old Aqsa Parvez was killed in the family home by her father and brother after an ongoing dispute over her choice of dress, her friends and other issues.
The teen's mother told police her husband regarded Aqsa as an "insult" and he feared that the local Muslim community would judge him for not controlling his daughter.
During the press conference, Ambrose called on community leaders to "vocalize their opposition to honour crimes, and to the subjugation, oppression and repression of woman and girls wherever it happens."
The minister also urged community groups to develop local programs to prevent honour crimes and assist women and girls who are suffering abuse at home. Ambrose called on those groups to submit project proposals to the federal government, but did not offer specifics about funding.