Honour killings term angers Trudeau

Justin Trudeau says don't call honour killings

Justin Trudeau says don't call honour killings "barbaric." (Andre Forget, QMI Agency file photo)

BRYN WEESE, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

OTTAWA - Liberal MP Justin Trudeau said the government should not call honour killings "barbaric" in a study guide for would-be Canadian citizens.

On Monday, the federal government updated its Discover Canada guide, a pamphlet given to new immigrants to help explain life in Canada and prepare them for the citizenship test.

Among other things, it tells new Canadians that gay marriage is OK and forced marriages are not.

But the guide also says: "Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, 'honour killings,' female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence."

"Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada's criminal laws," it reads.

Trudeau blasted the Conservatives for using the term "barbaric," even though it's been in the guide since 2009. Forced marriages are the only new item on the list.

"There's nothing that the word 'barbaric' achieves that the words 'absolutely unacceptable' would not have achieved," Trudeau, the Liberal immigration critic, said.

"We accept that these acts are absolutely unacceptable. That's not the debate. In casual conversation, I'd even use the word barbaric to describe female circumcision, for example, but in an official Government of Canada publication, there needs to be a little bit of an attempt at responsible neutrality."

But Immigration Minister Jason Kenney fired back Monday, accusing the Liberals of choosing political correctness over women's rights.

"Despite Trudeau's opposition, we make no apologies for letting immigrant women know their rights. We won't turn a blind eye to the abuse of immigrant women, even if the Ignatieff Liberals prefer we err on the side of political correctness," said Alykhan Velshi, a spokesman for Kenney.

Newcomers are also being warned in the updated guide to leave their "violent, extreme or hateful prejudices" at the door, even if they're coming from a war-torn country or conflict zone.

"Such experiences do not justify bringing to Canada violent, extreme or hateful prejudices. In becoming Canadian, newcomers are expected to embrace democratic principles such as the rule of law," the brochure now reads.

Announcing the changes in Vancouver Monday, Kenney said it's important to make sure newcomers to Canada understand the laws and values of the land.

"We expect people who want to become Canadians to have a good understanding of their rights and responsibilities, and the values and institutions that are rooted in Canada's history," he said. "This study guide has strengthened the value of Canadian citizenship."

Opposition parties lauded the government for including gay marriage in the document. Critics blasted feds last year for omitting gay rights from the first version of the guide, which was introduced in 2009.

bryn.weese@sunmedia.ca


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