From: Laval News Online, January 13, 2010, 2009 not a great year for women’s rights, says women’s critic. Tory minister’s gun registry vote was low point: Bloc’s Demers
Posted by cgccanada on January 18, 2010
Of all the proceedings that took place in the House of Commons last year, Nicole Demers, the Bloc Québécois’s MP for Laval, remains most bitter over the fact that Conservative Status of Women Minister Helena Guergis voted in favour of doing away with Canada’s long gun registry. According to Demers, it was “unheard of” until then that a government Status of Women minister would vote for abolishing the registry, which came about largely as a result of the Dec. 6, 1989 Polytechnique Massacre, in which 14 female students were murdered by a crazed male gunman. ‘For all women’ “When you’re a minister you have to realize that you’re the minister for all the women in Canada, and not just the women who are Conservative,” says Demers, who is her party’s critic for women’s issues. “You are also the minister for those who believe that the gun registry should remain as it is right now. “And as more than 50 per cent of Canadians believe that the gun registry should remain as it is, then she should have either stepped down and not vote on that, or vote against it. But she didn’t. She got up and voted for it. That’s very disturbing. And her parliamentary secretary, Sylvie Boucher, she also got up and voted for that bill and that’s also unheard of.” A moment of unity In early December, in a relatively rare moment of solidarity, the three opposition parties united to make a statement denouncing the Conservative government’s policies on women’s issues. Demers and the others had refused to take part in a ceremony organized by Guergis’s department on the occasion of a day commemorating actions taken to deal with violence committed against women. Demers and the others maintained that the ceremony was nothing but “hypocrisy” since the government had shown itself “hostile” since it was in power to virtually all efforts to further the rights of women. A 50-year setback Demers maintains that since the Conservatives have been the minority government since 2005, they’ve “been trying to set women’s rights back 50 years.” She says that the Conservatives have cut virtually all funding to women’s groups across Canada, effectively preventing them from promoting their cause. Since 2005, the cuts have resulted in the closing of nearly all Status of Women offices across Canada. A court challenges program for women was also terminated. Demers says the Conservatives remain determined to bring the abortion debate back to the floor of the House of Commons. Regarding her parliamentary last year, she had about 10 motions before House of Commons committees when the Conservative government decided in December to prorogue the Commons until March. The suspension means that work to bring the motions forward must now restart.
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