Debates of the Senate  
2nd Session, 40th Parliament,Volume 146, Issue 75.
  Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Question Period: Status of Women

  Violence Against Women

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

In the aftermath of the massacre at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal, we learned that Mr. Lépine was a deeply troubled young man with a violent attitude toward women. Having grown up in an environment where abuse against women was common, Mr. Lépine unleashed his disturbed sentiments toward women by killing 14 female engineering students on December 6, 1989.

Understanding the profound influence his social environment had in forming his anti-feminist opinions, which led to his horrific actions, could the Leader of the Government in the Senate please tell the chamber what steps the government is taking to combat abuse against girls and women, especially as it relates to educating and building awareness for youth and young adults?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, all women and men remember December 6, 1989. I remember that horrific day. It was a cold, bitter day.

This morning, the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons and representatives of political parties participated in a ceremony marking this tragic date.

As both Speakers noted, a disturbed and deranged man struck down 14 young women who were in the prime of their lives. All levels of government are working and have worked extremely hard to address this serious issue.

Violence against women is now, and always will be, a serious matter. Since 2007, through Status of Women Canada alone, we have supported 117 separate initiatives to address abuse of women, domestic violence, culturally based gender violence and violence against Aboriginal women. One year ago, on behalf of the Government of Canada, Minister of State Guergis signed on to the UNIFEM Say No to Violence Against Women campaign. As the honourable senator is aware, we also support the Sisters in Spirit Initiative, which is a five-year initiative to address racialized and sexual violence against Aboriginal women and girls.

There is no easy answer to dealing with a person like Marc Lépine. All levels of government have undertaken initiatives to combat this issue including, and I believe most importantly, the initiatives undertaken under the chairmanship of former Senator Kirby on the issue of mental health and mental health issues, dealing, at least in part, with one aspect of this serious issue.

Society as a whole cannot and will not tolerate views such as those held by Mr. Lépine. Each and every one of us should be on the look-out to prevent situations like this from happening again.