Feds fail women hurt by violence

By Robert Washburn

As women from across Northumberland County gathered to remember the victims of the Montreal massacre and others who suffer at the hands of violent men, it will be particularly poignant.

Yes, they will think about the 75 women who were murdered this past year as victims of violence. And, they will reflect on the 45 minutes an enraged gunman strode through the corridors of the Ecole Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989, mowing down innocent women with his automatic weapon, killing 14.

Despite their efforts to want to raise awareness in the community about the tragedy of violence against women, those women will also know their own government is in the process of turning its back on them.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government are in the process of killing Canada’s gun registry, which was put in place in 1995 as a result of the massacre. It costs $2.2 billion and holds records for more than 7 million guns.

If it passes, people will no longer need to register their rifles and shotguns, including automatic weapons. It will also mean the destruction of the existing records in the Canadian Firearms Registry, leaving police without a valuable tool for safety and investigations.

The Quebec government is trying to get the database for its police officers to use.

Ontario Liberals will also turn their back on these women. Community and Safety Minister Madeleine Meillleur confirmed her government would not seek to obtain a copy of the registry for the OPP and local police to use.

Sadly, it is not only guns that are used to kill women. The news is filled with stories.

Currently, a trial in Kingston is trying to decide the fate of a father, wife and son, who are accused of an honour killing, where four women – a mother and three teenage daughters – were killed when their car was pushed into the Rideau Canal.

To be fair, the federal government announced last week it is planning to fund projects to address violence against women on university and college campuses.

Rona Ambrose, Minister for the Status of Women, announced up to $200,000 for proposals to prevent violence against women on campus. It comes in response to several cases of predators and attacks on campuses at the University of Windsor, Vancouver Island University, York and McGill in the past year or so.

Still, this does not change the bigger picture.

In July, Ian Jeffrey Paget killed his estranged wife, her daughter and granddaughter, and then turned the rifle on himself in a home in Northern Alberta.

Kitchener native Nadian Gehl was killed at a bus stop close to her home in February. Waterloo police capture three suspects, who turn out to be her husband and two of his friends.

In Orangeville, police are called to investigate a murder-suicide in September where a mother of two and her husband are dead.

And, the list goes on.

The number of Canadian women murdered using a gun fell to 32 in 2005 from 85 in 1991. The registry works in reducing violence against women.

What is so puzzling is our own MPP Rick Norlock, a former OPP officer, must know about violence against women. Surely, he has witnessed it as part of his duties when he did his job. Yet, he is voting with his party like a good backbencher.

It will be a sad day in so many ways.

First published: Dec. 7, 2011