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Rona Ambrose again sounds alarm on 'honour-based violence'

Rona Ambrose, then minister of labour, talks to reporters outside the House of Commons on Nov. 30, 2009.

FRED CHARTRAND/The Canadian Press

The Harper government is calling on men in Canada's immigrant and religious communities to speak out against so-called honour killings.

Rona Ambrose says community leaders - and in particular men - must play a greater role in decrying violence against women.

The minister responsible for the status of women repeated her assertion that the government is looking at making honour killing a separate charge in the Criminal Code - despite a Justice spokeswoman's statement to the contrary. "It's something we've looked at and will look at," Ms. Ambrose told The Globe. "We will always look at ensuring that serious crimes get serious penalties."

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Ms. Ambrose said, however, that undermining support for honour killings is key.

"The real issue here is that a message be sent - not only from the government, but from community leaders, especially male community leaders, across all cultural and religious communities - that this kind of so-called honour-based violence is not going to be tolerated in Canada."

The minister spoke to The Globe after a meeting with cultural community leaders at the Lebanese Islamic Centre in Montreal. Honour killings are normally the murder of a female by relatives who feel she has brought dishonour or shame to their family or community.

Ms. Ambrose declined to say how many honour killings there have been in recent years but a July report from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy documented 12 such killings in Canada since 2002.

The Conservatives have spent much time and capital courting the South Asian communities and Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently appointed a Pakistani immigrant who was a Tory candidate in the 2008 election to the Senate.

But they have also made crime-fighting their top domestic policy issue.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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