Party Line Dancers
Reader Heather posted this in the comments on SOWwatch below. I think it deserves its own post.
Only because your government likes it that way, Bub.
Canada appears to be dragging its heels in responding to a demand from a United Nations human-rights panel. It probably won’t be until December 2014 that the country will file its next report regarding its compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, an international treaty ratified in 1981.
However, when the CEDAW committee met in Geneva in 2008, the panel was so concerned about poverty and violence here that it asked Canada to report within one year—and not wait until its next scheduled report in 2014—about how it is dealing with these issues. The UN panel made the request when it released its observations on Canada’s treaty compliance on November 7, 2008.
According to women’s-rights advocate Shelagh Day, the report is due by the end of November. But the codirector of the Poverty and Human Rights Centre and member of the B.C. CEDAW monitoring group says she doubts that Canada has much to say.
Actually, all Canada had to say was "Eliminate the long-gun registry!'' That's the one formed partly as a result of the hard lobbying by the families of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre victims. (It must be noted that a number of Liberal and NDP MPs also voted to throw women under the gun bus.)
A survivor of the murderous rampage at the Ecole polytechnique says the government will have blood on its hands if the controversial federal gun registry dies and there is a spike in firearm-related killings.
Heidi Rathjen, a former engineering student at the school, was among those who worked to reform Canada's gun laws and set up the registry in the wake of Marc Lepine's attack on the school on Dec. 6, 1989.
"I feel that what the Conservatives are doing, especially at this time, is a slap in the face to the victims of the Dec. 6 massacre and all victims of gun-related crimes," she said on the eve of the tragedy's 20th anniversary.
"What does it say about all future gun victims? If this goes through and the registry is abolished and gun-related murders and crimes go back up, the Conservatives will have blood on their hands."
Rathjen said she has spoken to some of the families of the Polytechnique victims and said they are "devastated, terrified that this is going to go through."
She had scathing words for Ignatieff and NDP Leader Jack Layton, saying they demonstrated a "complete lack of leadership on this issue, allowing a free vote on what they absolutely knew was a disguised government bill."
She said the Liberals and NDP actions were a "betrayal" of the two parties' commitment to victims of violence and women.
"What good are all these wonderful Liberal values, NDP values if you can't stand up when it really counts? Words are just words. It's action that counts."
Rathjen, who joined an anti-tobacco organization in Montreal after the gun legislation was passed, said she'll rejoin the fight to help the Coalition for Gun Control to protect the registry, which she says has been an unrelenting target of misinformation.
She said former students are getting organized and will head to Ottawa for hearings on the bill.
Rathjen did have praise for the Bloc Quebecois, which she said had shown unstinting support for the registry.
Yes, Status of Women has tossed a few million at shelters, which are bursting at the seams with some 70,000 women and children. But that money can't make up for how the Harpies removed advocacy mechanisms, nor can it compensate for how many women are suffering in isolation in homes where there are guns.
What's more, $22 million over three years can't even begin to make a dent in violence prevention. What's needed is ongoing support to help make women independent of abusive partners.
Which brings us to today's treeware column, where the gun nuts are weighing in in the comments section. Here it is, with some linky freshness.
On Wednesday Tuesday, at a Parliament Hill ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Dec. 6 massacre at Montreal's L'École Polytechnique, Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner co-starred in Status of Women minister Helena Guergis's show of sympathy.
Bad enough that, last month, Guergis voted for Bill C-391, the legislation that aims to kill the long-gun registry and Hoeppner was the one to introduce it in the House.
No wonder that Status of Women committee members Anita Neville (L-Winnipeg South Centre), Irene Mathyssen (NDP-London- Fanshawe) and the Bloc's warrior queen of women's rights, Nicole Demers (Laval), boycotted the ceremony.
As Neville told me Wednesday, "The Conservatives' record on women has just been abominable.''
Never mind that, since the registry was introduced in the mid-'90s, the number of women killed by their rifle-wielding partners has dropped significantly. But, even with the registry, Statistics Canada reports, one out of three femicide victims is still killed by a rifle-wielding partner.
It was in the wake of that terrible night in December, when that misogynist shooter targeted female engineering students, killing 14 women and injuring 10 more, as well as four men, that the former Conservative government, the one we used to call Progressive, struck a task force to look into violence against women.
For a frigid few days, I followed the panel around rural Quebec, where it heard horror stories from women whose partners took advantage of their isolation to terrorize and torture them.
There were testimonies from local social services groups recounting terrible murders. Meanwhile, back in the Montreal area, women were being picked off at an alarming rate by former spouses, even those served with restraining orders.
One of the things that many of the gun nuts espouse is more guns – for women. As they say, "You can't rape a .38.''
That may be true if you're walking your dog or coming home from work late at night, but it's going to land you a murder charge if you pull the trigger while being "date raped.''
In any case, it's pretty tough to be packing, say, in an aerobics class, especially when the assassin sneaks in, turns off the lights and starts firing – which is what happened in Pittsburgh this summer when three women were killed and many others injured.
What's more, there's no guarantee that an abused wife could actually get a gun, or not get it used against her.
Research shows that the determining factor in preventing most violence against women is helping them to be economically independent, through secure employment with appropriate benefits and fair wages, or decent rates of welfare, adequate social housing and daycare.
Little of which is forthcoming from the Conservative government.
That said, it has bumped up funding to some shelters this year. But that does nothing to head off violence.
In fact, according to Neville, "Their whole focus on violence against women is what one colleague refers to as `after the gavel.' That means putting more people in jail, harsher sentences, mandatory minimums, that kind of thing.''
Or as Hoeppner recently said in committee: "The best thing we can do to protect women is to make sure that people who commit crimes against them go to jail and stay there for as long as they need to." Which, not only closes the slammer door after the deed has been done, it does nothing to get women out of dangerous situations and into self-sufficient lives.
As for Guergis, well, although her resumé includes many years of volunteering at Barrie's Rape Crisis Centre, she just tiptoes the party line.
With girlfriends like these, who needs enemies?
Not much to add but this: In committee yesterday, Hoeppner complained at the start of proceedings.
It would be as if, if people disagree with the long gun registry, they have every right to disagree with it, but to politicize this remembrance is wrong. To demonize me and to say that I don't care about women and that somehow I don't have the right to be at that event, and I was told that by every party, everybody that's at this table—
Which is when the chair, Liberal MP Hedy Fry, shot her down.
UPPITY WOMAN DATE: Emily has more.