3 min

The House is back to full strength

With it being the International Day Against Violence Against Women, and the kick-off of sixteen days of action, the NDP’s Libby Davies kicked off several Members’ Statements to mark the occasion.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP we recognize the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and call for an end to violence against women. In our communities, our homes and on our streets, too many women still live in fear, live without safe and secure housing or a safe place to turn in times of crisis.
In Vancouver's downtown east side and on B.C.'s Highway of Tears, women, mostly aboriginal women, are disappearing and dying in frightening numbers, but their courageous sisters are standing up and speaking out against this epidemic. We honour the women who are daring to speak out.
I recently hosted former Afghan MP Malalai Joya for her book launch in Vancouver. Ms. Joya is a woman who has dared to speak out, as her book notes. Ms. Joya faces death threats and suspension from Parliament for her outspoken criticism of the warlord-dominated government, yet she continues to raise her voice for women's rights and an independent and democratic Afghanistan.
We have the capacity and the resources to end violence against women everywhere. We call on the government to make doing so a political priority.

The Commons also returned to full strength as the other three winners of the by-elections took their seats, being brought before the mace by their party leaders. Normally it’s the party leader and the whip that does this, but Harper had other ideas. In this case, he brought them up with the regional minister for each riding victory – Peter MacKay and Christian Paradis representing Atlantic Canada and Quebec respectively.

Question Period began with Ignatieff asking why it took eighteen months to act between the reports of torture in Afghan jails and altering our transfer agreements. Harper claimed that reports are not proof – and immediately the opposition shouts of “Cover up!” began. In his supplemental answer, Harper then accused the Liberals of slandering soldiers, when that’s never been the issue.

Irwin Cotler was also in full Internationally-Renowned-Human-Rights-Lawyer mode as he questioned the government on the reports of the Afghan Human Rights Commission with respect to the torture of prisoners. Duceppe continued the detainee questions, while Layton again broke ranks on his first question to mention the YWCA’s Rose Campaign, and to ask about the murdered or missing aboriginal women in this country. Harper responded that violence against all Canadians was unacceptable, and hey, look at all the tough-on-crime legislation they’ve put forward.

Harper did stand up to answer another question later on, this time from David McGuinty who wondered if he’d be attending the Copenhagen conference as all of the other world leaders would be. Harper said that he would be – much to everyone’s surprise – but he also said that Obama had not yet confirmed his presence at the leaders’ conference.

A government suck-up question from Patricia Davidson asked about violence against women, and Helena Guergis stood up to talk about all of their great tough-on-crime measures. Lise Zarac and Anita Neville both stood up to decry Maurice Vellacott’s recent erroneous statements about abortion, respectively asking the Ministers of Health and Justice to denounce his comments. Both times, Guergis stood up to remind the House that Members are required to have their own opinions, while on the supplemental, talked up just how much money the government was spending on Status of Women. Also, they’ve doubled the chocolate ration this week from four grammes to two – doubleplusgood!

Sartorially speaking, I must give snaps to Scott Brison’s brilliant purple tie. He often has great ties, but this one caught my eye immediately. Libby Davies looked quite nice in a simple white coat over a brown dress – with no scarf for a change. The style citation goes out to Gail Shea for her boxy and very loud fuchsia jacket. The Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a rather unusual (and frightening) floral-printed ruffled top under a black suit with her dark green heels.

After Question Period, the special Afghanistan committee heard from two former generals (including Rick Hillier) and one current general on the Colvin testimony. This as word was getting out that Peter MacKay’s office certainly knew about the allegations. The generals three denied that there was credible evidence of torture – they would have done something if there had been – and yet the committee still hasn’t seen unredacted documentary evidence, so how could they be convinced? And Richard Colvin? Has been barred from submitting his own memos to the committee by the Justice Department. Because this is the government of transparency and accountability.

Up today – Michael Ignatieff is due to deliver the Liberal position on the environment, climate change and the clean economy. Just what will he say? Will he back away from Stéphane Dion’s legacy of the environment?
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