Rona Ambrose speaks out of turn at event condemning so-called honour killings

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The Conservative government dispatched one of its ministers Monday to the city where a 16-year-old girl was killed by her father and brother to condemn so-called honour killings, but it appears Rona Ambrose may have spoken out of turn.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The Conservative government dispatched one of its ministers Monday to the city where a 16-year-old girl was killed by her father and brother to condemn so-called honour killings, but it appears Rona Ambrose may have spoken out of turn.

The event was a statement from the minister for status of women, containing no program or funding announcement, and the news to emerge was that Ambrose said Ottawa is “looking at” amending the Criminal Code to include so-called honour crimes.

She was asked if the government was considering such changes, and she replied that it was under consideration.

“I’ll say that it’s something that we’re looking at,” she said. “Nothing more than that at this time.”

However, when contacted for more details about possible changes, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said in fact, that is not the case.

“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 an email Monday night, Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, did not directly address Ambrose’s remarks, but offered a comment that the government is always looking at existing laws.

In her statement, Ambrose said honour killings have no place in Canadian society and urged women’s groups to submit project proposals for government funding to prevent future violence.

The announcement coincided with the release of a report written by social worker Aruna Papp that explores violence driven by culture.

“In Canada all girls and women are equal to men under the law and have the right to live free from violence and abuse,” Ambrose said.

The minister condemned all forms of violence against women, calling such crimes “heinous abuses of power and abuses of human rights.”

This city west of Toronto where Ambrose made her statement was home to 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez, who was killed in 2007 by her father and brother after repeated conflict with her family over her desire for some independence.

According to facts entered in court when the two Parvez men pleaded guilty this year, they believed they could keep the family’s pride intact by killing Aqsa, rather than letting her have a part-time job and go to the movies with friends.

The announcement also came the same day a Montreal woman alleged to have stabbed her daughter in a so-called honour crime was declared fit to stand trial.

Johra Kaleki, 38, will next appear in court on July 26 for a bail hearing.

She is alleged to have stabbed her 19-year-old daughter in the head.

Papp said she is surprised and shocked that there is domestic violence in south Asian families whose members have grown up in Canada.

She decided to write her report after 30 years working in the south Asian community.

“I think this is a very good start,” Papp said of Ambrose’s statement.

But one critic said referring to crimes as honour killing creates a double-standard that isolates ethnic communities.

Anisa Ali, chair of the Toronto chapter of United Muslim Women of Canada, said the term honour killing is not used for the same types of crimes committed between white people.

“My question would be, are we using that specifically to identify certain ethnic communities and thereby ostracize certain communities?” she said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Ethan Rowland battles with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Kemp during WHL action at the Centrium Saturday night. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers claw back, hand Rebels 11th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 The same old issues continue to plague the… Continue reading

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
AstraZeneca-linked blood clot confirmed in Alberta

A case of an AstraZeneca-linked blood clot has been confirmed in Alberta,… Continue reading

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday, April 16, 2021. Ontario was set to backtrack on controversial new police powers to enforce stay-at-home orders implemented in the battle against COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ford backtracks on new police COVID-19 powers amid intense backlash

TORONTO — Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in… Continue reading

The official program for the National Commemorative Ceremony in honour of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, sits on an empty pew prior to the ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa on Saturday, April 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prince Philip remembered as ‘a man of great service’ during Canada’s memorial service

Canada’s commemorative ceremony in honour of the late Prince Philip offered a… Continue reading

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy speaks to his players during the team's practice Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
CF Montreal puts on a show, defeating Toronto FC 4-2 in MLS season opener

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — CF Montreal, carving open Toronto FC’s defence, cruised… Continue reading

Demonstrators using umbrellas as shields approach a point in a perimeter security fence during a protest over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Journalists allege police harassment at Minnesota protests

Some journalists covering protests over the police fatal shooting of Daunte Wright,… Continue reading

A container ship is docked in the Port of Montreal, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Montreal dockworkers begin weekend strikes as talks drag on

MONTREAL — Dockworkers at the Port of Montreal kicked off a series… Continue reading

Brad Dahr, 53, is facing numerous charges. (Photo contributed by Alberta RCMP)
Alberta man charged for alleged sexual offences against children

An Edmonton man has been charged for alleged sexual offences against children… Continue reading

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Vials containing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at the San Marino State Hospital, in San Marino, Friday, April 9, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Antonio Calanni
China, Russia using their COVID-19 vaccines to gain political influence

OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19… Continue reading

Most Read