Conservatives react to Shafia verdict

Sunday's guilty verdicts in the Shafia quadruple-murder trial are welcomed by several members of the Harper cabinet.

Ministers, staffer express satisfaction with jury's verdict, condemn 'honour killings'

Justice minister on Shafia

11 years ago
Duration 1:02
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson reacts to the Shafia verdict during question period

Sunday's three guilty verdicts in the Shafia quadruple-murder trial in Kingston were welcomed by members of the Harper government.

Conservative MP Roxanne James used her designated government-side slot during question period to invite Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to share the government's view of the "so-called honour killings."

"So-called honour killings are barbaric and unacceptable and have no place in Canada," Nicholson told the House of Commons. He echoed  a commitment first made in a Sunday press release from his office "to protecting women and other vulnerable persons from all forms of violence and to hold offenders accountable for their acts." 

"In Canada murder is murder regardless of the motive," Nicholson said. "Our government has always focused primarily on the rights of victims and not on the twisted rationale offered by convicted murderers."

"We send the message loudly and clearly: if you commit such acts of terrible violence in Canada, you will face Canadian justice," Nicholson concluded, prompting a standing ovation from the government side of the House.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews shares his reaction to the Shafia verdicts with reporters on Parliament Hill Monday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Nicholson's official view echoed a reaction offered earlier by his cabinet colleague.

"It sends a very clear signal that murder is murder in this country, and that if you're going to commit murder for whatever reason you're going to be held accountable by the courts," Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told reporters on Parliament Hill Monday morning.

"It doesn't reflect badly on Muslims," Toews continued. "Cultural differences that may in fact be crimes will be prosecuted in Canada."

Reaction on Twitter

Toews' press secretary, Julie Carmichael, had taken to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to voice her own personal satisfaction with the verdict.

"The remaining members of the Shafia family will spend the rest of their lives in prison! Justice," read one tweet. "Honour killings have no place in a civilized society!" read a second message from Carmichael.

Also on Sunday, two other members of Harper's cabinet shared their reactions through social media.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney tweeted a quote from the government's new citizenship guide, the rewriting of which he oversaw: "Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, 'honour killings'... or gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws."

Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose tweeted that "honour-motivated violence is NOT culture, it is barbaric violence against women. Canada must never tolerate such misogyny as culture."

Ambrose also noted that her department is funding a program to educate law enforcement and social workers about honour killings.

"Honour motivated violence should never be seen as 'culturally acceptable' in any form — it is violence, intimidation and bullying," Ambrose tweeted.