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Leave his Charter of Rights alone

The Leader-Post, Regina, Ron Petrie, January 29, 2004

Tomorrow the Supreme Court rules on whether spanking violates the Charter of Rights. So far none of the lawyers quoted in the news stories has specified exactly whose charter. Here's mine:



Two score years ago, or thereabouts, our four fathers -- mine, Murray's, Garth's and Wayne's -- along with all the other dads of all the other fellows we knew, reserved the right to threaten disciplinary action in the form of the spank, the tanning, the smack-bottom -- call it what you will.

Same deal for us. What goes around, comes around.


What? You think we're kidding here? That this is some big joke? We're warning you. Do not make us preamble again. We have preambled and preambled. You straighten up right this instant and stop constitutionally challenging our authority or we'll give you something to be REALLY constitutionally challenged about. And don't think we won't, either.

Section 1: All mischief by a child or children shall cease immediately, no words spoken, with the following dad gesture: right hand held open and aloft, in the fashion of Queen Elizabeth II's wave to her assembled subjects, except instead of eyes exuding regal warmth and charm: Twin Laser Beams of Doom.

Section 2: Section 1 shall be the first and last warning.

Section 3: Repeat Section 2 every three to six minutes until peace and order is restored or the child's mother intervenes.

Section 4: Notwithstanding sections 1-3, in the event that the desired discipline is not achieved; that the naughty version of the Barney theme continues to be scream-sung over and over and over; that, try as the kids might, none of them can recall exactly who inserted the raisin in the cat's left nostril; that dad's best necktie remains in service as a Tonka tow rope -- when all else fails, that's it, buddy-boy, or li'l miss missy-miss, as the case may be. We're talking a situation constitutionally applicable to:

Section 5: Spanking shall be one wide swipe, with full back swing and follow-through, outward and downward, in the general direction of the target bum, fingertips whipping by just wide. A Section 5 spanking shall always miss, on account of the seemingly impossible acrobatic stunt that is a preschooler's arching of the pelvis forward while simultaneously racing from the room as a blur. Dad could be the 1988 Seoul Olympics gold medallist in table tennis. Doesn't matter. He'll miss.

Section 6: It shall have been hilarious like nobody's business in 1967 to have dodged the air-thrashing end of a spank threat while in the backseat of the family's Chev Impala, one's own dad driving. Such shan't be so funny nowadays, however, since the advent of one's own fatherhood and the mini-van.

Section 7 : No publication containing advice on modern parental discipline shall be worth a rat's-toot. Most useless of all shall be the new common wisdom that no spanking should be threatened while either the dad or the child, the potential spanker or spankee, is angry, frustrated or annoyed, and that all spanking should wait until both sides are calm, relaxed and capable of rational discussion. And just exactly when the heck is that supposed to be? Twenty-five years from now? On a boat, on some father-son fishing getaway up north? What, the old beggar is supposed to figure that, hey, finally, all is swell, the time is ripe, and then, serenity of Wollaston Lake be damned, to stand up, waddle forward and take repeated swipes just short of his 32-year-old accountant son's butt end. The kid would sign the papers to have the sorry old geezer committed. "Hey, dad. Turns out you were right. That DID hurt you a lot more than it hurt me."

Section 8: These are the truths we dads hold to be self-evident. Believe us, the Supreme Court of Canada shall wish it was never appointed the Supreme Court of Canada if tomorrow it makes us drop what we're doing and come all the way over there to Ottawa.

- Ron Petrie writes Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Copyright 2004 The Leader-Post (Regina)

Repeal 43 logo

Committee to Repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada Which Allows Hitting Children to "Correct" Them

The Repeal 43 Committee is a national, voluntary committee of lawyers, paediatricians, social workers and educators formed in 1994 to advocate repeal of section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

It is an offence under our Criminal Code to use force against anyone without their consent. This right to personal security is the most fundamental of all human rights. It is a protection against assault that all adults take for granted.

Children do not have the full benefit of this protection because section 43 of the Criminal Code justifies hitting children for disciplinary or "correction" reasons. This violates a child's right to the equal protection and benefit of the law guaranteed by our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It contravenes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It violates a child's dignity and shows a lack of respect. It can lead to serious physical and emotional harm.

Over 400 organizations from across Canada that deal with children are against corporal punishment