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Proposal to Prohibit Spanking in Homes and Schools Moves Forward after Second Round of Approval

A bill that would ban “reasonable force” used to discipline children passed a second reading by MPs, despite concerns over parental rights and classroom chaos.

Bill C-273 aims to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code, which says, “Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction towards 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.”

A total of 208 MPs voted in favour of the NDP-proposed bill Feb. 14 while 115 opposed it, as first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

“Children are among the most vulnerable people in our society,” MP Peter Julian said in a news release when the bill was introduced in December 2022. “It is time to take meaningful action to protect children and ensure they aren’t being harmed by their parents and legal guardians.”

The Epoch Times reached out to Mr. Julian for comment, but did not hear back by publication time.

Conservative critics said approval of the legislation would be an intrusion into the private lives of families.

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“We have seen attempts time and time again to diminish the role played not only by parents but also by the family as a fundamental building block of society,” said Conservative MP Damien Kurek. “Any attempt to see that diminished would be wrong. We can see the implications of this.”

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) says repealing Section 42 would also have a negative impact on classrooms.

“What we’re worried about is that section 43 right now is protecting teachers if they have to intervene physically, when necessary, to make classes safer, to protect themselves, to protect other students,” CTF President Heidi Yetman told The Epoch Times in an interview.

She said the CTF supports the move to eliminate corporal punishment for children, but has concerns about how it might affect teachers.

“We’re really worried that if we don’t have some kind of protection for teachers, we’re going to have more issues in the classroom,” she said, adding that the organization is suggesting an amendment to the criminal code to protect teachers in these cases.

The CTF represents 365,000 public school teachers in Canada from every province and territory.

Several members of the Bloc Québécois also spoke out against the bill on behalf of teachers and parents.

“I am of course completely opposed,” said MP Luc Desilets, who used to be a school principal.

“If I had to put something like this to my teachers, things would not go well,” he added. “We are talking about reining in children in a school environment like we do when they are running amok and have to be stopped.”

Reasonable force is sometimes needed to correct children’s behaviour, Bloc MP Rhéal Fortin said.

“If we really love our children we should thank the legislator who included this provision,” said MP Fortin. “There are many examples showing that words, hugs, and sweetness are not enough to discipline a child.”

Bill C-273 will now move to hearings of the House of Commons’ justice committee before being presented for third reading.

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