Senators approve anti-spanking bill
A proposed law that could see parents charged for spanking their children is heading to the House of Commons after clearing a major hurdle in the Senate.
'I received the occasional spanking as a child and didn't turn out to be an abusive monster. I sure made me listen when I was told to do something or not do something.'
The bill, supported by the Liberal majority, quietly passed third reading in the Senate on Tuesday night despite Conservative objections to the legislation. The vote count was not recorded.
Bill S-209, which needs House approval to be made into law, proposes to eliminate Section 43 of Canada's Criminal Code, which allows parents, teachers and caregivers to use reasonable force to discipline a child and correct their behaviour.
Liberal Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette first introduced the bill in December 2004, shortly after the Supreme Court denied a challenge to Section 43 and upheld the right of adults to physically discipline children between the ages of two and 12.
Dion's support expected
Hervieux-Payette said she believes she will get the support of Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion in the House, although the ruling Conservatives have voiced concern over the bill. Hervieux-Payette said if the House does not pass her legislation, she will simply keep reintroducing it.
"It is to send a signal, so that people who use violence in a repeated way will no longer feel protected," she said, according to Canwest News Service. "It is not to arrest everyone who gives their child a tap on the arm."
The Senate mulled over the bill for more than three years, as the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers spoke out against it. In response to concerns, the bill was amended to allow parents and caregivers to use force in very specific situations — such as when a caregiver wants to immediately stop a child who is about to do something dangerous that could cause serious harm.
Routine discipline and using spanking as premeditated punishment wouldn't be allowed.
"No corporal punishment would be allowed, either by an educator, the mother, the father or someone acting for them," Hervieux-Payette said.
With files from the Canadian Press