Mr. Speaker, as we conclude third reading of Bill C-309, I would like to take the opportunity to once again express my sincere thanks to my colleagues in this House, and to all those who have been involved in shaping and championing this bill, an act to establish gender equality week.
I would like to spend the final minutes of this debate acknowledging the work of three men in particular among all those who inspired my work on Bill C-309.
Our Prime Minister, who proudly and regularly describes himself as a feminist, has challenged men to do more to support women and Canadians of minority gender identity and expression in an effort to achieve gender equality. He leads by example, having appointed the first gender-balanced cabinet in Canada's history, and he empowers his ministers to systematically apply gender equality and equity considerations to both their domestic and international work.
Day by day, much of the credit also goes to our amazing parliamentary staffers right here on Parliament Hill. My own executive and legislative assistant, Adrian Zita-Bennett, proudly hails from Mississauga—Lakeshore, and he has done a lot of the heavy lifting in the stakeholder consultations and in the drafting of the preambular paragraphs of Bill C-309. As a young professional, Adrian is passionate about social justice, and he has pledged himself to doing what he can to help bring full gender equality to our country.
The third man is Glen Canning. Members of this chamber will remember the Rehtaeh Parsons tragedy. Rehtaeh was a Nova Scotia teenager who was sexually assaulted by four males at a home near Halifax in November 2011. She took her own life on April 4, 2013, following months of bullying, cyber-abuse, and victim-blaming. Glen Canning is Rehtaeh's father. I had the honour of meeting him a short while ago at a fundraiser for Interim Place, which is a local women's shelter in Mississauga, where he told Rehtaeh's heartbreaking story. Today, four years after Rehtaeh's death, Mr. Canning is an activist and writer, courageous and tireless, who is doing what he can to stop sexual violence in Canada.
I spoke with him by telephone yesterday, and I asked him if there was a message that he would like to relay to this House and to Canadians. He told me that one of the most important goals is to equip young men with the right tools and knowledge to be able to stop acts of sexual violence or harassment against women and girls when they witness them. If Bill C-309 will help to ensure that every man and every boy in Canada knows about Rehtaeh Parsons' story, and other stories like hers, for that reason alone it will have done a great deal of good.
I wanted to highlight these three examples of men who have stepped up and are taking action because, in my view, it is very important that men in increasing numbers become champions of all aspects of gender equality: sexual and intimate partner violence; the gender wage gap; the continuing disparity of opportunities for women in the STEM careers and male-dominated fields such as law enforcement, aviation, or the armed forces; the plight of Canada's indigenous women; and numerous other areas, as outlined in Bill C-309's preambular paragraphs.
Women and Canadians of minority gender identity and expression simply cannot and should not do this work alone. Many men are already actively involved through the HeForShe campaign and through important community-based efforts across our country. These men, in turn, will inspire more men and boys to join them, as there is much more work to be done and more help needed.
It is my aspiration that Bill C-309, an act to establish Gender Equality Week, will serve as a platform to support this work through a focused national discussion each year, not only to raise awareness among Canadians and to take stock of the remaining challenges but also, through stories like Rehtaeh's, to emphasize that the status quo is simply untenable. We must continue to take action on gender equality.
I have had the great privilege of working on this bill with colleagues from all parties in this chamber over the past several months. I look forward to engaging with our colleagues in the other place in the months ahead.
Once again, I express my sincere thanks to all supporters of Bill C-309. I am grateful for everything they are doing to champion this very important cause.