CENTRAL NOVA REPORT BY PETER MACKAY
Each year on Dec. 6, Canadians mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It was on this day 24 years ago that 14 young women were killed at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. Canadians were horrified at this act of gender-based violence, and have since used this date as a time to reflect on our collective efforts to eradicate violence against women and young girls.
Sadly, gender-based violence remains too common. The statistics coming out of our universities and colleges are sobering: between 15 and 25 per cent of women will be the victims of a sexual assault on campus during their post-secondary career, and 25 per cent of women over age 18 have reported being the victim of violence by a boyfriend. These numbers are unacceptable.
That is why our Conservative government continues to act to end violence against women and girls across Canada.
Since taking office we have nearly doubled funding for community-based projects: from $10.8 million to close to $19 million, its highest level ever. In addition, $54 million has been invested in groups seeking to end violence against women. Overall, more than 550 women’s empowerment projects have been supported.
Violence against women and girls comes in many forms. These projects deal with issues from emotional abuse and harassment to sexual assault. This type of gender-based violence not only hurts the victims, it also takes a heavy toll on families, on our universities and campuses where the violence occurs, and on the wider community.
We have also introduced a number of measures ensuring that those found guilty of such crimes against women receive the sentences they deserve. By eliminating the option of house arrest for those who have committed sexual assault, toughening penalties for the trafficking of date rape drugs, and by bringing forward legislation to help better protect women living on reserves, we are helping to ensure that our streets and communities remain safe. Our government’s commitment to increase penalties for those who create sexual offences against children, and reform Not Criminally Responsible legislation will also further these objectives.
As Canadians we should never forget the events of Dec. 6, 1989, and continue to honour the memory of the 14 young women through our collective efforts to end gender-based violence across our country.
Peter MacKay is MP for Central Nova and federal Justice Minister.