Mr. Speaker, I worked in the downtown east side of Vancouver some 20-odd years ago. It was heartbreaking to see women arrive with garbage bags of clothing, their children in tow, not having had a meal and with nowhere to go. That is because for 25 years there has been a gap in legislation, as has been pointed out by the Human Rights Commission. For 25 years this bill did not exist, which has impacted hundreds, thousands, of women across this country. Previous speakers have spoken about the statistics and the horrifying impact this has had on women and their children across Canada.
I would like to quote from Jennifer Courchene, who is also a member of the first nations in Manitoba. She came to the standing committee as well and told her heartbreaking story. She said that she and her children became homeless after her abusive partner forced them out of their home.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has gone through this in a first nation community. There are probably many, many other women who have gone through what I've gone through, and the story is pretty much the same: the woman loses the home. I'm not sure how other first nations communities are run, but if there had been something to help us, we would have taken it, rather than be homeless, that's for sure.
The acting chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission came to committee as well. He said the situation was urgent. I asked him what exactly he meant by “urgent”.
It has been 25 years. The opposition has been vehemently opposing this legislation to grant these rights and protection for these women and children for more than 25 years. I ask the opposition members how much longer they will oppose this for these hundreds and thousands of women who have been in the streets. I not only ask but beg them to vote with us on this legislation.