In promising to enact all of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the federal Liberals have agreed to remove a section of law that allows parents to spank their kids without fear of prosecution.
Groups that oppose corporal punishment of children have spent many years urging successive governments in Ottawa to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code that permits parents and teachers to use reasonable force to correct the behaviour of youngsters in their care.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which heard thousands of tales of physical abuse inside Indian residential schools, said in its final report that “corporal punishment is a relic of a discredited past and has no place in Canadian schools or homes.” The repeal of Section 43 was No. 6 on a list of 94 “calls to action” included in the report, which was made public last week.
When asked if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to act on every TRC recommendation meant repealing the so-called spanking law, a spokesman for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould would only say the government remains committed to implementing all of the commission’s calls to action.
In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that physical force was acceptable within certain bounds – it cannot be used on children under the age of 2, it cannot involve implements such as a paddle or a belt and blows to a child’s head are not allowed. Teachers and faith-based groups praised the decision, saying the people who are responsible for raising children must have the leeway to decide when moderate physical discipline is required.