Time to stop hiding behind words

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Canada’s premiers have joined the chorus of native rights and social activists calling for the federal government to do something about the substantial number of missing and murdered native women in this country.

To date, the prime minister has pushed back against the wave of pressure from many corners and has refused to call a public inquiry. Seeing that they are unlikely to sway Stephen Harper on the public inquiry issue, the country’s premiers, who are meeting here on the Island this week, are calling instead for a national roundtable to discuss the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women as a compromise.

Harper’s reluctance to convene a public inquiry is not without merit – the process would take years to complete, cost a lot of taxpayers’ money, and rarely, it seems, result in any significant improvements or changes – at least not quickly. But his unwillingness to do anything except spout partisan nonsense about being tough on crime is completely unacceptable.

Being tough on crime is fine, but first you need to dig out the root causes and eliminate them, and find the criminals – neither of which is solved by being tough on crime after the deed is done. The Conservatives are content to treat the symptoms instead of the cause.

What is it they say about an ounce of prevention?

After a meeting with aboriginal leaders in Charlottetown this week, P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz said the provincial leaders will continue to support calls for an inquiry, but acknowledge that as the federal government has continually rejected it, suggested instead that a roundtable discussion would be “a step in the right direction.”

It would certainly be better than the status quo.

As long as people (regardless of sex, age or status in the community) continue to go missing in such significant numbers, something needs to be done. It should not be who they are that is important but, rather, what is happening.

In May, the RCMP released a study of 1,181 cases involving aboriginal women since 1980. The study found aboriginal women made up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, but accounted for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.

We can’t help but think that if upper-class businessmen and women were going missing in similar numbers, the reaction from Ottawa would be somewhat different.

 

Organizations: Conservatives, RCMP

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Ottawa

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