Feds brace for backlash against new immigration rules (against polygamy, forced marriages)

Apart from the silly and pandering name (Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act), and whether in its application it will make much of a difference, or provide effective new powers, hard to disagree with the overall intent and principles behind the Bill.

After all, the case mentioned by Alexander, the Shafia murders (Shafia jury finds all guilty of 1st-degree murder), were successfully prosecuted under existing laws:

The bill would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, making permanent residents or temporary residents inadmissible if they practice polygamy in Canada.

The bill would also amend the Civil Marriage Act to ban marriage for anyone under the age of 16.

It also changes the Criminal Code to impose a maximum five-year prison term on anyone who “celebrates, aids or participates” in a marriage rite or ceremony knowing that one of the persons is being married against their will, or is not of legal age.

Alexander noted the case of an Afghan immigrant accused of stabbing his wife to death last year, apparently because he felt dishonoured by her independence.

He cited another case in which an Afghan-Canadian man, his second wife and their son were convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of his three teenaged daughters and his first wife — also because he felt they were bringing dishonour on the family by dating or dressing in ways he found offensive.

“Honour-based killings are nothing more than murders,” Alexander said.“We will be working through this bill to make sure that such killings are considered the murders that we know them to be. There is absolutely no room for ambiguity.”

But I don’t buy the argument that countries like the UAE are likely to protest. Most immigrants from the Gulf are guest workers, not citizens, and given their own restrictions and the bad publicity, unlikely to be an issue.

Better reporting on how these measures would be implemented and enforced would be more useful.

Feds brace for backlash against new immigration rules.

More substantive reporting here:

But some immigration lawyers are questioning the need for the new legislation, saying they are aware of few cases of polygamy among immigrants to Canada and don’t see early and forced marriage as a pervasive concern.

Immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk said the polygamy portion of the bill was particularly puzzling because the practice is already illegal in Canada. He said the legislation seems to be aimed at individuals who were married in another country before arriving in Canada, but added that he believes their numbers are relatively few.

After practising immigration law in Canada for 15 years, he said he’s never come across the issue. “It’s just something that’s completely outside of my experience as an immigration lawyer,” he said.

Mr. Sandaluk said he also wasn’t aware of a particular concern with the ability to prosecute forced marriages, and pointed to the language of the announcement and the term “barbaric cultural practices” as evidence that the government is targeting a specific subset of the population.

“What the government I think is doing is sending a political message with this legislation,” he said. “And I think this is better considered posturing rather than policy.”

Experts question use of bill banning immigrants in polygamous marriages

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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