Dear Senator Kutcher:
On behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, we are writing to express our support for Bill S-251: An Act to repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 6).
This bill presents an opportunity to end the use of corporal punishment in Canada. Corporal punishment is the use of physical violence to discipline children. Spanking and hitting are examples of corporal punishment. Section 43 of the Criminal Code has been used as a legal defense for parents and guardians who use physical violence against children.
As the bill notes, call to action number 6 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report directly calls on the Government to repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. As such, repealing section 43 is one step in the work of reconciliation and healing.
Ending corporal punishment is matter of safety and respect for all children. Ending violence against children offers long term benefits to community and society. There are positive, non-violent and participatory forms of child-rearing and discipline. Repeal of section 43 of the Criminal Code would help Canada meet its obligations to support the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In November 2021, the Council of General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada endorsed a statement asking the federal government to repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. In March 2018, the National Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada expressed its support for repealing Section 43. Indigenous Ministries have provided essential leadership to raise awareness of this issue among Anglicans and Lutherans. Both churches have endorsed the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth.
When children grow up in safe homes, schools and communities, the positive impacts are widespread and inter- generational. We therefore offer our full support to the passage of Bill S-251 and thank you for your efforts to move this important issue forward.
Yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. Chris Harper
National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop, Anglican Church of Canada
The Rev. Susan Johnson
National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada