Question Period: Twenty-five years after École Polytechnique, gender-based violence still persists

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, on December 6, 25 years ago, 14 women were killed at École Polytechnique. These women were killed because they were women. I know that all of our thoughts are with the families of those women, but we must also commit ourselves to action. Twenty five years later violence is still targeted at women because of gender. Will the government commit to working together with the NDP and our action plan to end violence against women?

Hon. K. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal was a Canadian tragedy. This week we remember the crimes that took place 25 years ago. While I would never think we could make sense of why those crimes took place that day, we must continue to ensure this never happens again in Canada. Our government will continue to stay focused on supporting the victims of these crimes, as well as punishing the criminals who commit these heinous crimes.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the tragic murder of Zahra Abdille and her children shows how our system fails women fleeing violence. Women like Ms. Abdille need support, like legal aid and housing.

A Canadian Bar Association report said:

…victims of domestic violence are among the most vulnerable in society and require access to legal and other services … to protect themselves and their children.

What measures is the government taking to improve access to legal aid and housing for women fleeing violence?

Hon. K. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our government has been committed to preventing violent crimes and violence against women and girls.

Let me list some of the things we have done, and I would encourage the members opposite to participate in supporting these initiatives: the victims’ bills of rights act; the creation of a DNA based missing persons index; passing new laws to protect victims who have been harassed by those who have committed crimes against them; eliminating pardons for serious crimes; and better protecting youth from adult sexual predators.

This is a few of many initiatives this government has taken. I am very proud of that record of supporting victims and putting criminals behind bars.