The issue of “concubinage” and policing in Canada
By Constable Rey Olazo
Recently, I received a letter from a member of our community. It dealt with a very sensitive issue, and knowing the law in the Philippines and now here in Canada, I felt it was important to speak about it here in this column. The writer started off by giving me warm greetings and stated how nice it was to see a Filipino police officer in Winnipeg. But then the writer started to tell me the story of how he/she was concerned that his/her spouse was having an affair and was wondering if his/her partner could be arrested for concubinage, as would be the case back in the Philippines. This is obviously an important issue that can have devastating consequence to a marriage, especially if children are involved.
In Canada, marital cheating is not a criminal offence. However there is an offence that everyone should be aware of. It falls under Section 172 of the Criminal Code which states – “Everyone who, in the home of a child, participates in adultery or sexual immorality or indulges in habitual drunkenness or any other form of vice, and thereby endangers the morals of a child or renders the home an unfit place for the child to be in, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.” In the said Section it is not an issue of personal “immorality” per se that is being punished, but the negative effect to the children. Also, before a prosecution for this offence can occur, the consent of the Attorney General is necessary, unless they are instituted by or at the instance of a recognized society for the protection of children or by an officer of a juvenile court. This means that the police can’t just arrest a person because they alone have a belief that the offence has been committed.
As a police officer I have attended numerous calls of domestic violence that were caused by infidelity. There are also times when the victim of marital cheating ended up being arrested because of the inability to control his/her temper and they assaulted their spouse. Sometimes, this level of violence has even resulted in death. These are serious matters and are taken very seriously by the police.
My advice is for anyone who suspects their partner may be having an affair is to either seek the advice of a family counsellor or other social agencies that can provide professional help in dealing with these circumstances. If a person wishes to leave the relationship, you should also consider contacting a family lawyer so that you can be assured that your rights and those of your children on the conjugal property are properly protected.
While some members of our community may believe that infidelity should be something that the police can arrest a person for, we must also respect the fact that we are not in the Philippines anymore and there are some different values that apply here in Canada. There are many things that our law here in Canada that aren’t enforceable in the Philippines so it really does go both ways. Understanding and respecting the differences will help all of us to prosper in our new home here in Canada. That is how we help develop a culture of safety and prosperity in our city.
Thank you very much and may God bless us all.
Pulis Kababayan (Brother Police Officer)
Constable Rey Olazo is a member of the Diversity Relations Section of the Winnipeg Police Service. He can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. For urgent matters that require Police response please call 911 and for non-emergency you may call (204) 986-6222.