Comments on Missing Women Trial

VANCOUVER – The trial of the missing women is now concluded.

But still there are many issues that disturb our consciousness, and trouble society about the desperate situation that the missing women faced in their tragic lives.

First and foremost I express my deep sympathy and support to the family, friends and the communities of the missing women, who endured their loss and faced the horrors of a 10 month long trial that has been unprecedented in Canadian history, and was preceded by many years of frustration, inaction, and denial by those in a position to act.

With the conclusion and verdict of this trial, there are still many questions that must be answered.

Why did so many women go missing and why are sex workers, particularly, at such great risk? Why are these women disproportionately Aboriginal women? Why did the system fail them, including law enforcement authorities, all levels of government, the judicial system, and public policy itself?

I am deeply concerned that with the conclusion of this trial, nothing will change. Sex workers will remain at risk without the minimum of their basic human needs being met. Harmful laws will continue to be enforced against sex workers, and conditions of poverty, discrimination, racism, and violence will continue as well.

Surely the trial of the missing women must compel us to act, to seek answers and make changes that will minimize the risk and harm that sex workers face.

I call on all governments to act in the memory of the many hundreds of women who have gone missing across Canada. Needed changes must include law reform, improved police training, and the security of basic human rights for housing, a living income, social supports and an end to violence.

I also call for a public inquiry into policing issues surrounding the missing women, to determine why it took so long to properly investigate the numerous disappearances, and whether there was negligence and wrong doing by law enforcement officials in carrying out their duties, and what crucial lessons must be carried forward.

Healing the community that has grieved for so long and remembering the missing women is a critical part of coming to terms with the enormity of what has taken place. I strongly support community initiatives that are underway to remember the missing women and believe they help build a better understanding of what has happened.

Most of all, I want to see changes made at every level, so that the women who are at risk today, will not be at risk tomorrow. No person in our society should experience the danger and risk that these women faced.