P.O. Box 45546 , 747 Don Mills Road, Toronto , On, M3C 3S4
416- 737-9500

 May 5, 2005


The Honourable Irwin Cotler
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada  K1A 0H8                                                               


From:  Homa Arjomand

            Coordinator, “The International Campaign Against Shari’a  

            Court in Canada


 Re:     The Boyd Report: Dispute Resolution in Family Law

 Dear, Mr. Cotler,

On December 20th, Ms Boyd filed her report with Mr. Bryant’s office concerning the use of the Ontario Arbitration Act 1991, to settle family legal matters based on religious laws.

Although the specific issue that we are dealing with is the application of Sharia via the Ontario Arbitration Act, it is clear that the same attempt is being made to use Sharia across Canada.


Parts of Sharia, that Islam considers to be under family law (provincial jurisdiction) is in fact, under criminal law (federal jurisdiction). A forced consummated marriage between a 40 year old man and a 13 year old girl would fall under the federal criminal code, although the proponents of Sharia Courts insist that it is really just family law.

It is essential that we have a unified and consistent approach for all of Canada relating to such matters.  It is essential that it is clearly and unequivocally stated that no existing Canadian law can be superseded by any other law or regulation.

The Campaign  worked hard to inform Ms. Boyd and the general public about the past failures and future risks of permitting religious groups to continue to settle family legal matters based on religious laws. Details of these abuses and our concerns appear in our reports and our Resolution 04-11-01, which were filed with Mr. Brynt’s office and with Ms. Boyd.

We believe in a secular court and “one law for all”. We oppose the current two-tier legal system of secular and religious courts; where religious tribunals make binding rulings on family legal matters based on formal and informal religious laws, codes and values.

Therefore we’re deeply disappointed to read on page 133 of Ms. Boyd’s report that she has recommended that the Arbitration Act may continue to be used by religious groups to settle family legal matters based on religious laws:

1. Arbitration should continue to be an alternative dispute resolution option that is available in family and inheritance law cases, …

2. The Arbitration Act should continue to allow disputes to be arbitrated using religious law,    [page 133]

 As Coordinator of the Campaign Against Shari’a Court in Canada, I wish to request a meeting with you and  some representatives of various Ontario organizations, the members of which, are deeply concerned about the detrimental implications for Muslim women and children of having Shari’a court/faith-based court decisions accepted as binding under Ontario law.


We respectfully request such a meeting at your earliest convenience.


Yours truly,


Homa Arjomand


Campaign Against Sharia Court in Canada