OTTAWA, January 30, 2004 ( – In a 6-3 decision rendered today, the Supreme Court of Canada turned down an attempt by an activist group to criminalize parental use of spanking as a form of disciplining their children.  The ruling is a victory for parents, said representatives of the Coalition for Family Autonomy (CFA) – one of the groups intervening in the case.

Of note, only one justice was strident in insisting on criminalization spanking by parents – justice Louise Arbour.  Arbour’s opinion comes as no surprise to UN watchers since she was at one time the United Nations’ top judge – the UN’s chief prosecutor in the International War Criminal Tribunal.  The United Nations has for years insisted that Canada, and all countries, prohibit parents from using spanking as a form of discipline. The U.N. has also been advocating many other restrictions on the rights of parents to raise their children according to their own cultural, religious and personal beliefs.  “This decision is a long overdue voice of common-sense coming from the highest court in our country. It reinforces what Canadians already know: child discipline is a matter best left to parents, not the government,” said Focus on the Family Canada president Dr. Darrel Reid. “We’re very pleased that the Court chose to reject the arguments of those who would send parents to jail for spanking their children.”  The court affirmed that the negative impacts of making parents who spank into criminals goes far beyond what is required to protect children, saying that the destruction caused by family disruption is far more traumatic to children than physical discipline.

“The decision to uphold Section 43 is grounded in the recognition that to criminalize the actions of parents who provide loving guidance and correction to their children would result in ruined lives and broken families. As the court noted, this burden is often borne by the children involved,” commented Dallas Miller of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a member of the Coalition.

The CFA has been involved in this case since it began in 1999, when the Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law first tried to convince an Ontario court to criminalize spanking. Their arguments, made in opposition to the wishes of the majority of Canadian parents, have now been rejected by three courts. Surveys show that over 70% of parents have spanked their children and 84% of Canadians do not believe that spanking should be criminalized.

The four groups comprising the Coalition are Focus on the Family (Canada), Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada, REAL Women of Canada, and Canada Family Action Coalition.  See previous LifeSite article:  Child’s Rights Convention Propaganda Campaign Unveiled


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