Before I begin, I would first of all like to thank our hosts who are welcoming us here today, The Shield of Athena, particularly executive director Melpa Kamateros.
I also want to recognize my colleagues, Mr. Leung, Senator Seidman, Senator Smith, and Senator Boisvenu for being here today.
And I would especially like to welcome the presence and testimony of Parliamentary Secretary Shelly Glover, an excellent MP whose experience as a former police officer is a precious asset for our government.
And of course, I wish to thank a man of conviction and courage who for many years has helped victims of crime, and I am obviously speaking of Senator Pierre Hugues Boisvenu.
It is my pleasure to be back in Montreal, a city where on every street we are reminded of the cultural diversity of our great country.
We must remember that Canada has always been a land of immigrants, something that adds to our country's dynamism as well as its diversity.
Our country's openness and generosity is a point of pride for all Canadians, and the tireless work of community organizations like The Shield of Athena honours that long tradition.
In Greek mythology, the goddess Athena is a fearless protector and a wise counsellor.
It's a fitting name for this organization.
Your organization offers its protection and its counsel to immigrant women and their children.
Every day the staff of this organization, the Shield of Athena, work to break the destructive cycle of domestic violence.
On behalf of the government of Canada, I want to congratulate, I know we all want to congratulate you on your dedication to the most vulnerable in our society.
The services offered here are adapted to the cultural and linguistic realities of immigrant communities.
Those services range from support and consultation to emergency shelter for victims crying out for help.
The Shield of Athena also does important work in the area of prevention, and that is precisely what our government is committed to highlighting here today.
The Shield of Athena will soon be launching an awareness campaign on a phenomenon that many people, too many people, refer to as "honour crimes."
And our government is very pleased to be a partner in this initiative.
But, let us be clear: There is nothing honourable about so-called honour crimes.
Indeed, this is a barbaric practice which our laws rightly deem to be nothing less than heinous and indefensible acts, and nothing less.
Unfortunately, Canada is not immune to such sordid crimes, as current events have shown.
Recently, the tragedy of the Shafia girls affected Canadians profoundly.
All Canadians, regardless of the colour of their skin or which god is in their prayers, have the inalienable right to security and life.
It is our duty to ensure that the victims of these incomprehensible murders did not suffer in vain.
We all have a duty to remember the Shafia daughters and the other young women whose lives were taken away by such senseless crimes.
Everything must be done to ensure that in Canada such incidents do not repeat themselves.
So we are very proud to contribute to The Shield of Athena initiative to educate newcomers about Canadian values.
And that is also why in the new Canadian citizenship guide, practices such as honour crimes, female genital mutilation, and forced marriages are condemned in the strongest terms in black and white.
Victims of domestic violence, whether physical or psychological, feel isolated and vulnerable.
Protecting those victims is a priority for our Conservative Government.
Our government will always put victims' rights ahead of the rights of criminals.
From now on, with our amendments to the Criminal Code, a person convicted of sexual assault will no longer be able to serve his sentence in his living room.
He will have to face the consequences of his crime.
Harsh sentences help victims regain confidence in our justice system, and our Government will continue working to assist the victims of crime.
We are going to continue building a free and democratic society in which all Canadians can feel safe and secure.