Posted at 03:56h
By Mark Penninga, Vancouver Sun, May 12 2015: Vancouver-Quadra Member of Parliament Joyce Murray stood in the House of Commons this month to condemn spanking. "Shockingly, section 43 of the Canadian Criminal Code still permits this cruel form of punishment, an archaic flaw in our legal system to say the least," she sais. Murray proceeded to call on all MPs to ban physical punishment of children. Canadian Parliamentarians have unsuccessfully introduced since 1997 eight private member's bills to fully ban corporal punishment, also known as physical discipline or spanking. A case challenging the legality of physical discipline went to the Supreme Court of Canada. The majority of Canada's highest court ruled in 2004 the law Murray decries is constitutional. Chief Justice McLachlin, writing for the majority, took the opportunity to clarify what is and is not appropriate. Physical discipline may only be used for children between the ages of two and 12. It can't include objects, or be directed at the head. Physical discipline must be sober and reasoned and address behaviour. However, these restrictions aren't enough for Murray and many others. Given that about half of Canadian parents use physical discipline, this argument is not a minor or hypothetical matter. There are two key questions: is physical discipline really harmful or abusive, and who is the best situated to determine whether it is an acceptable form of discipline, the State or the parent?