Better approach to prevent crimes

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So far, Stephen Harper has dug his heels in over the need for a public inquiry into reasons for the high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Perhaps it's the usual reluctance to heed the opinion of others, including political opponents, but his stance is growing evermore lonely.

While the prime minister continues to insist this disturbing trend is a strictly criminal matter, with cases to be pursued by police, other leaders are adding their voices to the call for such an inquiry.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is one of the more recent to issue the call, describing such crimes as part of a pattern that has gone on for many years in Canada. Also underlining the need for a national inquiry have been a number of premiers – Kathleen Wynn of Ontario and Brad Wall of Saskatchewan.

Wynn called it outrageous that the prime minister refuses to see the systemic aspect. Wall, following the recent murder of a 15-year-old aboriginal girl in Manitoba, said he doesn’t understand how a government can continue to ignore the pattern.

Nova Scotia had its own infamous case this past year. Loretta Saunders, an Inuk woman from Labrador studying in Halifax, was missing for several weeks before her body was found. Two people face charges for her murder.

In discussing this trend, people describe a typical response from police. Oh, this person is a native, they have a tendency to take off somewhere from time to time. He or she will show up.

If this is what police say, then we do have a serious problem with police attitudes toward investigation that should be addressed. If a high proportion of aboriginal women are targets of criminals we have a problem.

Harper is partly right when he says such incidents need to be pursued by police investigation. But the troubling suggestion there is that an investigation follows a crime such as murder or assault. What we need to do is find ways to prevent such a high number of incidents occurring in the first place.

Geographic location: Canada, Ontario, Saskatchewan Manitoba Nova Scotia Labrador Halifax

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