Thursday, February 27, 2014

Commons questions re Loretta Saunders: 'There's something wrong in Canada if aboriginal women have to live this fate'



The following questions were posted today (Feb. 27th) during Question Period in the House of Commons.

Mr. Ryan Cleary (St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the tragic death of Loretta Saunders , an Inuk woman from Labrador, is felt deeply in my province, as it is across Canada and with every member of this House. As one indigenous leader put it: “There’s something wrong in Canada if aboriginal people have to live this fate”.
We here, the elected representatives of the people, have a duty to act. Will the government agree to call a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women?
 
Hon. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, first, let me express my condolences to the family and friends of Loretta Saunders.
The one thing I will note is that our government has taken concrete action to deal with the tragic issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women. In fact, in economic action plan 2014, we would invest an additional $25 million to deal with this tragic issue.
What I say to the member opposite is that we have take action, and we will continue to do so. Why do you not stand up for aboriginal women?
 
The Speaker: I remind the minister that we do not address our colleagues directly. Rather, we go through the Chair and use the third person.

Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Loretta Saunders was writing her university thesis on missing and murdered indigenous women when she went missing herself. Today, our community mourns. Over 800 indigenous women have been murdered or have gone missing since 1990. It is time for us to acknowledge this crisis and for us to act. Will the government establish a national action plan on violence against women?

 Hon. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite mentioned, I think we all mourn when a family loses a loved one. As I mentioned before, we express our condolences. I express my condolences to the family of this young women.
With respect to action, our government has taken action. We have invested in economic action plan 2014. We have invested additional funds with respect to a DNA base missing persons index.
We have taken action. In fact, this government has focused substantially on action, and we encourage the opposition members to join us in that action.
 
Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Delilah Saunders Terriak vowed to continue her sister's fight for Stolen Sisters. It is long past time we addressed the reasons why indigenous women are five times more likely to be killed than other women.
Members of this House and the government have a role to play. Will the government continue the work of Loretta Saunders? Will it institute a national action plan and call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women?

Hon. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I think all members of this House express their condolences for the family and are deeply concerned with respect to this tragic issue.
As I have said multiple times in this House today, we have taken action. We will continue to take action and I want to commend those who are part of the special parliamentary committee that is looking into this issue.
I encourage all members of this House, join with the government. Let us make sure that we are taking action to deal with this tragic issue.

M. Romeo Saganash (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, NPD): Monsieur le Président, Loretta Saunders, cette jeune femme autochtone du Labrador, menait des recherches universitaires sur les femmes autochtones disparues et assassinées. Son assassinat est une tragique ironie. Nous nous devons d'honorer sa mémoire, tout comme nous nous devons d'honorer la mémoire de toutes ces femmes disparues et assassinées.
Nous avons attendu trop longtemps pour mettre de la lumière sur les pensionnats autochtones. Est-ce que le gouvernement peut éviter de répéter cette erreur et faire une enquête publique sur les meurtres et disparitions des femmes autochtones?
 
L’hon. Kellie Leitch (ministre du Travail et ministre de la Condition féminine, PCC): Monsieur le Président, notre gouvernement continue de prendre des actions concrètes pour régler le problème tragique.
As I mentioned before, we all in this House express our extreme condolences to the family of this young lady, Loretta Saunders.
I will say though, sir, yet again, we have taken action. We will continue to do that. There have been multiple actions taken by this government, all of which the opposition would not support. We would encourage--
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
The Speaker: Order, please.
The hon. minister still has a few seconds left to finish her response.

Hon. Kellie Leitch: As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, we have taken action in this budget alone, budget 2014. We encourage the opposition to support that budget.

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