IN THE NEWS - NDP bill seeks to ban spanking, corporal punishment in Canada

New Westminster-Burnaby MP Peter Julian introduced the Corinne's Quest bill in Ottawa on May 19.

NDP bill seeks to ban spanking, corporal punishment in Canada


Under Section 43 of Canada's Criminal Code, parents are allowed to use "reasonable force" to punish children. A bill introduced by NDP MP Peter Julian wants to change that. 

A drive to ban spanking and other forms of corporal punishment in Canada has found new life in Ottawa, thanks to New Westminster-Burnaby’s MP.

MP Peter Julian, who’s also the NDP house leader, tabled Bill C-273 in Parliament today (May 19). The bill, dubbed An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Corinne’s Quest and the protection of children) is designed to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code — the section that permits physical punishment of children in Canada.

Corinne’s Quest is a committee that was formed in 2014 in honour of Corinne Robertshaw, a lawyer who dedicated her life to working to repeal Section 43. Former New Westminster MP and MLA Dawn Black was a longtime advocate on the issue, and Julian has taken up the mantle.

“As we well know, physical punishment of children is still legal in Canada, despite the fact that dozens and dozens of countries around the world have banned the practice,” he said in presenting the bill.

The bill received first reading in the House of Commons May 19.

Before becoming law, it would need to pass through a process including second reading, consideration in committee, a report to Parliament and third reading.

How spanking is legal in Canada: What Section 43 of the Criminal Code says

“Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances,” reads the passage in question.

Julian pointed out that the wording of Section 43 means that, in such cases, a judge has the last word in deciding whether or not that use of force is acceptable.

Bill C-273 wants to eliminate that grey area.

Corinne’s Quest is chaired by parenting expert Kathy Lynn, who says it’s time to give Canada’s children the same protection against assault that’s enjoyed by all citizens.

“Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it,” she said.

“A special thanks to Kathy and John Lynn, who are constituents of mine in New Westminster-Burnaby, who are really shepherding the push to ban physical punishment of children and repeal Section 43,” he said. “I hope that all members of Parliament will support this important legislation.”

What do other countries do? Here’s where spanking isn’t allowed

Worldwide, Sweden was the first country to ban physical punishment of children, in 1979. As of today, 63 countries have banned the physical punishment of children — including, in recent years, Colombia, Seychelles, Japan, Scotland, South Africa, France, Kosovo, Nepal, Lithuania and Slovenia.

Corinne’s Quest says physical punishment of children doesn’t work and causes harm.

“The research is absolutely clear that physical punishment of children carries series risk factors.  We know that it can impair parent-child relationships, lead to mental health problems and child aggression,” its website says.

“Kids who are hit are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior. These problems often continue into adulthood, leading to anti-social behavior, adult aggression and poor mental health.

“More importantly, if our goal is to teach our children right from wrong and to help them to become self-disciplined, hitting them simply doesn’t work.”

You can find more information regarding the issue, plus a full list of countries where physical punishment of children is prohibited, at the Corinne’s Quest website.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie, [email protected]


Latest posts

Share this page

Are you ready to take action?

Attend an Event
Constituent Resources

Sign up for updates