Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleagues for allowing me to speak today.
The first words I spoke in the House were on December 6, 2019, in remembrance of the massacre at École Polytechnique. Today I think of the victims and the families of those lost, and indeed I think about Canada and what this day means for us as a nation.
I reflected then, as I do now, on the frame of mind of the individual who carried out the heinous act, and what could have possibly motivated a person to tear down the pillars of a community and snuff out bright lights.
Then, and now, I will say it was anti-feminism and misogyny. Violence against women and 2SLGBTQiA+ peoples continues to steal from us as a society. We lose aunties, sisters, friends, teachers and students. These words we share are important, our remembrance is essential and our actions must be immediate.
Since last December, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the realities for women at risk, particularly marginalized women including trans women, girls, femme-identified and non-binary people, racialized women and women of colour, indigenous women and immigrant women.
We see article after article about record numbers of calls to women’s shelters for those fleeing violence. We see survey after survey describing the increasing severity and frequency of the violence and torment women are facing in their own homes during lockdowns. We see the oozing growth of online vitriol and hatred.
In April, we saw another terrible massacre in Nova Scotia that began with intimate-partner violence. That day 22 people lost their lives, 13 of them women. I am also haunted by Chantel Moore’s story. This young indigenous woman was shot in her home, alone, by municipal police in my home province in June, without an explanation.
Two weeks ago, the final report on the implementation of the Merlo Davidson settlement agreement shocked many of us, with revelations of systemic and horrific misogyny and violence within the ranks of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Hon. Michel Bastarache, independent assessor, describes Canada’s national police force as having a toxic culture, and recommends nothing short of an independent external review to reform policing in Canada. We absolutely must undertake this work immediately.
When indigenous women disappear from their communities, their families cannot trust that their lives will be valued. As long as our policing institutions are fraught with misogyny and racism, police cannot possibly hold citizens accountable for their gender-based hate and violence.
Today we remember the women whose lives were taken on December 6, 1989, at École Polytechnique by a man who hated the women who dared to study. We must also remember Chantel Moore and those lost in Nova Scotia.
As each week passes we lose more. In 2018, there were nearly 100,000 victims of intimate-partner violence. Four out of every five were women. That year, 87 people were murdered by their intimate partners.
Amid this pandemic, we have come together in the name of health. The year 2020 has proved that when we are united with a common goal, and when we tackle a societal crisis with intensity, albeit desperation, we can move mountains. We know change is hard, but we have seen progress. Bill C-3 is a testament to moving the needle by legislating training on sexual assault for judges.
I challenge my colleagues in the House and I challenge Canadians. What will it take for us to come together and to recognize gender-based violence as the crisis it is? We need to move this mountain. May we always remember this day.