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House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was businesses.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. I ask that the vote be deferred until September 24 at the expiry the time provided for government orders.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The division on the motion stands deferred until September 24 at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

The House whip for the government party.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, if you request it you will find unanimous consent to see the clock at 5:30.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Does the hon. government House whip have the unanimous consent of the House to see the clock at 5:30?

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements ActPrivate Members' Business

September 23rd, 2014 / 5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East is not present to move the order as announced in today's notice paper. Accordingly, the bill will be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

The House resumed from September 19 consideration of the motion.

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour has three and a half minutes to complete her speech.

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:15 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, when I left this very important debate, I said that all parliamentarians cared very much about this issue, that we were all affected. However, the disagreement was on the best way to move forward. I did not really have lot of time to talk about why I believed we needed action and why we needed to move forward now.

Members often hear us talk about the 40-plus reports that have already been done, but have probably not heard a lot of detail around those reports, so I want to mention a few.

These reports have been done by many parliamentary committees. They have been done by the Assembly of First Nations and the provinces and territories. They are numerous of them. I looked at the list again today. I am going to pick up on just a couple of them specifically.

The B.C. Missing Women Commission of Inquiry report is called “Forsaken”. It is a very powerful document. It starts with “Simply Gone” and it talks about the last contact that many of the people had with their loved ones who were murdered or went missing. It is a 1,400-page report and it provides a comprehensive view of the myriad of problems facing aboriginal women in Canada and what has made them more likely to be victims.

I want to talk specifically about what Mr. Oppal said. He was the author of the report and spent a lot of time, energy and passion on this. In response to the need for the national inquiry, he said:

Inquiries should be held if there's something that can be learned from (one). There comes a time when we really need to take action.

That is one of the 40 reports. Have the members in the House who are calling for a national inquiry read every one of those 40 reports? If they read them, they would see a myriad of recommendations, reflections and insight. What we would be doing with an inquiry would be delaying action.

The next report was the RCMP's “Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: a National Operational Overview”. It did a fairly significant amount of very important work. It is important to note that the solution rate was consistent with non-aboriginal women. Something that people might not recognize also is the time to solve those.

I wish I had a lot more time because I would talk about the three pillars that the minister has put forward: preventing violence by supporting community level solutions, supporting aboriginal victims with appropriate services, and protecting aboriginal women and girls. Those are all very comprehensive measures. They are moving forward with action.

I would suggest that members in the House take the time and read those 40-plus reports. It gives us a good position to move forward with what would be a important action plan.

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, if I recall correctly, my colleague was a member of the committee on the status of women in 2010 when we heard absolutely heartbreaking testimony from group after group, from woman after woman. The consistent thread through all of this testimony was the need for the country to come to terms with what had happened in the colonization of first nations people and the terrible tragedy and violence faced by women and their children. The member heard all of that.

She also heard the consistent thread through all of the testimony, and the testimony we heard as recently as this spring, that there must absolutely be a national inquiry into the murder and disappearance of all of these aboriginal women. It is the only thing that will help us to understand where we have been and where we have to go. Why is she denying that reality?

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was part of the status of women committee when we did a comprehensive report. I was also part of the committee on murdered and missing indigenous women. We did hear the horrific stories, but what I heard out of that was the need to have prevention. We need prevention plans in the community. We need victims to be taken care of.

We hear about our justice system. There was a horrific example last week in British Columbia. We heard the many stories. Our government is moving forward on those very important issues to provide closure and looking at prevention. We are moving in a important way on this issue.

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member about the action plan this government is undertaking on this serious subject and its development and her experience as a member of the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women.

Could she give us her perspective and what she learned by being on that committee and how it fits in with the government's action plan?

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, our committee had 16 recommendations and they form the government's response.

I will just pick one of the pillars, and that is preventing violence by supporting community level solutions. One of the things we heard about was the importance of a community safety plan. The plan put forward by the minister will directly address that and provide support.

The justice department has created a compendium of promising practices, for example. A list of initiatives in aboriginal communities have shown a lot of promise. An example would be outreach to sex trade workers, which gives them hope and empowers women. That one is going on in Prince George.

The committee heard that things were happening across the country. We need to share the things that are happening and provide the tools and the resources to communities to implement and adopt them.

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, my colleague said that the opposition members did not think the government cared about this issue. She said that the government did care about it, but that it disagreed on how to get there. How can she claim that the government cares about the people when it does not respect them? Respect requires the government to listen to what they say rather than impose its will on them.

Could she tell me why the government will not call for a national inquiry on this specific issue? It cannot be about money because the government just handed out $25 million elsewhere. What does the government have to hide?

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, we heard from the victims. We also have taken note of those 40-plus reports that have been written. We need to have strategies to move forward. We do not want the lawyers getting rich. We need to move on action plans. We need to move forward on things that will make a real difference in the lives of these women and children.

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend opposition for allowing us to bring this issue forward quickly. It is one the Liberals want action on, and we support the call for a national inquiry.

When I was contemplating remarks today, I went for a walk. I have the enormous privilege of having an office that is across the street from the Supreme Court. As I walked around the grounds of the Supreme Court, I noticed the two statues that adorn the entranceway, Truth and Justice, two statutes of women.

It struck me as profoundly important in terms of what that symbolizes and who we entrust with ensuring that truth and justice are in fact symbols not just of our country but of our justice system.

Having listened to the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou and the story that was presented to the House, the story of the women in his life, tell us why truth and justice are so critically important and why, when it eludes us, the need for action is paramount.

What puzzles me in the response from the government side is why we cannot study an issue and act at the same time. Why does it have to be one or the other? Why does it have to be study first and act after? Why can the government not study and act simultaneously, especially with the body of work on this issue?

It scares me, quite frankly. I would not like to see those two women also go missing in this debate, those notions of truth and justice.

We know, and the facts are so abundantly and horrifically clear, that while comprising only 4% of our population, one in four homicide victims are women from aboriginal, first nations, indigenous communities.

When we turn our attention to what happens when a single child goes missing in the country, with the Amber Alerts, the news programming, the fear and panic that is unleashed and the commitment that is made to finding a single child and contrast that with the near silence on the uncalculated absence of close to 1,200 women, it breaks my heart. Action of course is needed.

We know we do not fully understand the dynamics which have given cause to this issue rising to the number it has risen to. We know that because even as we read all the reports, when the RCMP reports, suddenly the numbers double. If that does not tell us the action being taken is simply not working, nothing else will.

As I listened to the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, I also heard about missing services. If members go through the reports, it is glaring as the missing members of people's families in our country. The missing services are remarkable.

As part of the research on this, I read the reports. There are 41 shelters in 600-plus reserve and aboriginal communities in our country. That is just 41 shelters for more than 600 different communities spread across the entire geography. How does that work? If a woman seeking safety cannot find a safe place, where does she find that safety?

These services are missing in hundreds of communities, yet when we listen to the action plan that is presented, what we see is there not a new dime, let alone a new dollar put into the program.

I represent a downtown riding in Toronto, Trinity—Spadina. There are more ridings in the House of Commons named with words from indigenous and first nations communities than there are shelters in first nations communities. There are 40 shelters, but close to 60 ridings, like mine of Trinity—Spadina from the Ojibwa word, ishpadinaa. It just boggles the mind that the government cannot see that there is a shortage of services.

Yes, we can go back and read the studies to find that out, but what we do not see from the government is action on this. Yes, study this problem, and that is what this motion asks and compels us to do, and act. It is the lack of action that makes this issue so urgent.

I also have to say that I represent an urban area on Spadina, where the native centre is, where we have a library for indigenous and first nations languages and a seniors residence. There is a shelter in my riding that gets virtually no support from the government, or, in fact, from any government. This shelter has never had, year-in, year-out, support to deal with indigenous women seeking shelter, whether they are from a reserve or whether they are from the streets. It does not matter where it is. The challenge we see here is that the program is not being extended into the areas where these women live.

The other issue with the missing services is that when the announcement is made, it is a cobbling together of existing services, and the Conservatives pretend it is new money. They tell us that they have read the reports and have done the studying, but their action does not produce results. The status quo is putting people in harm's way. How can we tolerate that condition?

Let me tell the House about the images that are striking and that are affecting us in ways that are even more profoundly disturbing than the number 1,200. They are the photographs now appearing on social media of young women asking, “Am I next?” The fear that creates in all of our hearts and the sadness it creates in the communities where those women come from is more profound than we can possibly describe.

We heard a member talk about personal circumstances. It compels us to act, and it compels us all to support the motion here today.

I remember as a journalist doing a story about a young man who did not lose his last name through residential school but lost his family. For him, the missing woman in his life was not murdered or disappeared; he had disappeared. I remember the story he told about how he found his mother. He was travelling west. He stopped at a native friendship centre in Winnipeg and passed his name on a slip, to ask for room and board for the night, across to a women he had never seen before, or thought he had never seen before. When the woman saw the name, she broke into tears. She had found her son.

That is also what defines this issue. It is not just the women who have disappeared and have been murdered. That is a horror on its own. It is the women who have been taken out of people's lives. I have yet to find a report anywhere that talks about that hole, that missing woman, and a program that reconnects those people to those individuals. We will not get it with the DNA bank, looking for victims, because the victims are walking among us.

When we talk about and think about how we would address this issue, we get repeatedly told, and the quote that comes up that scares us most, I think, is the one the Prime Minister delivered, that these are just single acts of crime and that this is not a sociological problem.

It is entirely a sociological problem. It is entirely present in every corner of our society. When we do not address it sociologically, when we do not understand that when people leave the reserve and head into town for safety, or head into town for a job, and they are disconnected from their community and disconnected from their way of life, and when they move and are not charted as to where they are moving, they start to disappear, even if they have not met with a violent fate.

Our ability to reconnect these families, to reconnect these women to their lives and the lives of their families to these women, is what we are trying to address. It is the connection that will create safety, not studying it, and acting now.

However, we do not know how to act if we do not talk to the people who have been impacted. If we do not sit down and study and think and consult simultaneously with our action, we will be doing what generations before us have done in this country, which is assume that we are acting in the best interests of people. However, we will not be delivering the results we want, the results other people need, the results our friends, our neighbours, our aboriginal co-Canadians, our aboriginal partners are looking to us to deliver a solution on.

I started this conversation by talking about the women who are on statues outside the Supreme Court. There is another word we need to deliver, and we can deliver it by supporting the motion, and that word is “hope”. Ironically, hope, in the same pantheon of gods in Roman symbolism, is also a woman. The goddess of hope is the missing statue in this conversation.

We can chart the problem. We can study the problem, and we can promise to act on the problem. However, at the end of the day, if all we have talked about are truth and justice, and we have not delivered hope to the families, and more importantly, to the mothers, the sisters, the daughters, the nieces, and the granddaughters, through the actions we have taken in Parliament, we will not have solved this problem.

I do not want be part of a country that allows truth, justice, and hope to go missing any more than I want to be part of a country that tolerates and turns a blind eye to the 1,200 missing indigenous aboriginal and first nations women. That is why I will be supporting this motion. That is why my party supports this motion. That is why I implore the government side to please listen to the voices being raised around the country now asking, “Am I next?”

Give them the hope that truth and justice will prevail.

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Trinity—Spadina for his very eloquent remarks this evening. They are very much appreciated.

I wonder if he could speak a little more about the issues in his riding. When we think about first nations and indigenous women, we often think about women in remote communities. He and I both come from the city of Toronto, and there are many urban aboriginal women who face serious cultural and economic challenges. The member talked about the lack of shelters, jobs, and support services.

I wonder if he could elaborate a bit on the issues for urban aboriginal women.

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have heard comments made that this is simply a local issue, and the local shelter system should pick up the slack on this. However, we know that the circumstances that are challenging us have a sociological and cultural formation.

I constantly hear the focus being placed on first nations or aboriginal communities on reserves. However, we know that far too many of those 1,200 women disappeared and met a violent end in urban areas. The urban approach is as fundamental to solving this crisis and providing that hope as any action taken with the individuals who represent our communities on reserves.

We need shelters in urban centres that respond directly to the cultural needs that are being expressed. We need employment programs that deal with training and some of the other conditions that exist. To deal with this issue and not talk about urban aboriginal populations is not going to solve the problem. Employment, the shelter system, and prevention programs need to have an urban lens as well as a lens on reserves.

Violence Against Indigenous WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:40 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, in the very brief time I have on this issue, I want to take a personal perspective on this. This is one of those issues that is very near and dear to everybody's heart, all of us who have come into contact with those who have been challenged by this issue and the tragedy associated with it.

In 1998, when I was a journalist in British Columbia and Prince George, I remember covering this issue. It has been around for a very long time. I say this as a way of de-politicizing this issue and trying to get to the point where we can move forward and talk about solutions to the great diversity of challenges that affect this issue.

The NDP government was in power in the province of British Columbia, and it put great effort into trying to tackle the issue of the Highway of Tears in the province. At the time, the federal Liberal government was in office, and it put in great efforts. Our government has been in office as well. This is an issue that actually crosses partisan lines.

We have the responsibility as a majority government to move forward to put in place programs and investments and to have a responsible approach to dealing with the challenges right now.

I want to remind all members that having further studies and inquiries, without at the same time coming before Parliament and to the Canadian people and being specific about approaches to deal with the challenges we are facing right now, is just elongating more and more discussion without concrete solutions to some of these challenges.

I appreciate what the member opposite said about some of the issues in Toronto and what he would like to see move forward. I know it is not always easy, but if we could, let us find a way to move past the immediate partisan trigger-finger pointing, because all parties in this country have been in government and have wrestled with and tried to tackle this issue and deal with it responsibly.

We owe it to the maturity, the substance, and the challenges of this issue to deal with it in a non-partisan and thoughtful way.