OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan opened the door to tougher penalties for honour killings yesterday, saying it is a crime Canadian society cannot accept.
“This notion that it is appropriate to kill a family member because of your disapproval of their lifestyle or choices like that is simply unacceptable in our society. I have a very serious problem with that.”
Van Loan’s comments come less than a week after Mohammad Shafia, his wife and son were arrested and charged with first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the deaths of three daughters and a female member of his family. The women were found in a car underwater in the Rideau Canal in Kingston in what some suspect may have been an honour killing.
Speaking to reporters outside a Conservative caucus meeting, Van Loan said murder is already against the law and the Shafia case will be tried under the existing criminal code.
However, Van Loan said he would be willing, if necessary, to look at changes to the law.
“I’m certainly open to seeing whether there is a place for changes but up to this point, I haven’t seen that there is a need for changes to the criminal code. Certainly that is something for the minister of justice to consider.”
Van Loan said he believes the very term honour killing is “highly inappropriate” and those who move to Canada need to know that “those kinds of norms and values” are not appropriate.
“We certainly try to encourage people when they come to Canada to recognize the importance of Canadian values and to respect the laws of this country. That’s something that we expect all people who come to Canada to do.”