Violence against women is a serious issue in our society, and Aboriginal women are especially vulnerable to abuse and victimization. To be clear, we care deeply about missing and murdered aboriginal women and their families. We want action on the issue, as opposed to repeating studies.The reason that we do not support yet another inquiry is because there has been talk on this issue for years, but the Conservative Government seems to be the only party in Parliament who is interested in taking action instead of continuing to talk. Aboriginal women and girls are members of our community who are disappearing and becoming victims of violence and we have to act. All of us care deeply about ensuring the safety of everyone, especially vulnerable groups. We simply disagree on the way to achieve that.
This issue is especially serious in northern B.C. As we in the north have seen with the trial of Cody Legebokoff, there are people who treat the lives of vulnerable women and girls as disposable. We see the need for urgent and concrete action and our Government is taking steps to confront the problem.Our government believes we have identified many of the underlying causes. The Committee on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women heard about programs that were working. Our Government listened when presenters talked about prevention programs that work. We heard from families who have had to live through their worst fears.
The recommendations from that committee have been developed into an Action Plan. Our plan will invest $25 million over five years to reduce violence against Aboriginal women and girls through prevention, protection, and victim support services. The funding will particularly focus on regions identified by the RCMP as the highest risk. We will build community-level solutions to prevent Aboriginal women and girls from getting involved in lifestyles that put them at a higher risk of violence. Our plan will work to break generational cycles of violence and abuse by raising awareness and building healthy relationships. We are also investing in education and empowerment programs to change how we as a society understand and handle violence against women.
This Action Plan is part of a $200 million effort by our Conservative Government to confront the issue of violence against women. We have increased federal support for shelters, family violence prevention, and efforts to increase opportunities for Aboriginal women and girls.
Our Conservative Government has introduced tougher sentencing for those that commit violent crime. We introduced a new Victim’s Bill of Rights to make it less difficult for victims to pursue justice and not be re-victimized by the court system when their attacker is on trial. People convicted of violent crime are no longer eligible for conditional sentences and house arrest because of our Government’s efforts. We have also worked to enhance protection for children from sexual exploitation, including mandatory minimum sentences for offenders. We have also introduced new legislation to modernize our laws and protect children from abuse online.
I do not want any family to experience the pain having a loved one become the victim of violence. Our Government is making a clear and concerted effort to address the issue head-on and protect Aboriginal women and girls across Canada.
MP, Prince George-Peace River
Chair, BC/Yukon Caucus