Monday, February 18, 2013

Family Day For All?

Ralph Goodale discusses the perils facing those poor souls who can't enjoy Family Day. Great read. Thanks Ralph!

A commentary by the Member of Parliament for Wascana

February 18th, 2013


Many Canadians enjoy their mid-February "Family Day" holiday, but not all families can celebrate equally.

Think, for example, of those low-income families who are caring for elderly parents, or would like to get their kids into sports or arts programs, or have disability issues, or volunteer as community firefighters. They are deliberately excluded from the federal tax credits that more wealthy families get.

This sounds perverse, but it's true -- our tax system says you must have income above a certain level to access a variety of family tax credits. The more wealthy can benefit. Those on the most modest incomes cannot. Close to 9-million Canadians are left out.

This discrimination should be remedied in the next federal budget.

On Family Day, think also of those Aboriginal families who mourn more than 600 missing or murdered women and girls -- daughters and sisters, mothers and grandmothers, wrenched from their families, some known to be dead, others long unaccounted for.

Indigenous women make up 3% of Canada's population, but represent 10% of all female homicides. About 85% of all homicides are solved by police investigations, but that "clearance rate" drops to just 50% when the victim is an Aboriginal woman or girl.

If non-Aboriginal women were being killed or disappearing at the same rate as Aboriginals, there would be 20,000 Canadian women missing or murdered.

Indifference toward this carnage must end. Strong action is required to expose the truth about these 600 victims, achieve justice, and build a society in which violence toward all women is far better prevented.

That's why, for more than five years, Liberals in Parliament have pushed for a comprehensive Public Inquiry to dig out all the facts about these 600 unsolved cases. Such an initiative is necessary to get to the truth, and to start building a new era of trust and respect with indigenous peoples.

We also want the appointment of a Special Prosecutor or other civilian authority to launch proper investigations into allegations of police complicity in the violence.

You cannot expect traumatized women and families to report their allegations to some of the same authorities who may have victimized them in the first place. The government must provide safe and secure ways for them to tell what happened.

The House of Commons gave unanimous support last week to a Liberal Motion setting up a Parliamentary Committee to get to work on various policy questions related to violence against Aboriginal women. This is a good move, but only a small first step.

-- Post From My iPhone

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