I’m no fan of politicians on most days, but I think that the Liberal’s Maria Minna and the NDP’s Irene Mathyssen, critics for Status of Women (as well as others) have been doing good work on the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women. I like that they’re reporting back to women even though the MSM are not. Here are Irene’s first and second statements to the House regarding Status of Women Canada and the situation for women in Canada. And below is Maria’s last journal entry before the holidays. I post it, in particular, because:
1) she references the meetings held with representatives from women’s groups from across the country regarding the cuts and changes to Status of Women Canada; and
2) she reports that Government Members on the Committee abstained from voting on the motion to invite Minister Oda to appear before the Committee on February 1, 2007. What’s that about?
Maria Minna, MP
December 14, 2006
The following is a continuation of a journal of the meeting proceedings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women, as prepared by the Hon. Maria Minna, M.P., Official Opposition Critic for the Status of Women
The House of Commons recessed yesterday for the Christmas break so this will be my final journal entry for 2006.
In addition to finalizing the report on human trafficking we have had two extra meetings to hear from non-profit groups on the cuts and changes to Status. Let me begin by saying that it has been quite the experience. Personally I am impressed with the quality of the presentations and disturbed by what I am hearing.
Organization after organization outlined in vivid terms the devastating impact of the policy shift. For example, Sherry Lewis, Executive Director of NWAC, testified that “The Sisters in Spirit Initiative was a direct result of tireless advocacy work raising the profile of the violence issue. …the question in our minds is to what degree will our ability to advocate on behalf of Aboriginal women’s issues through the Sisters in Spirit Initiative be affected by these cuts and changes at the department.”
Andrée Cote, Director of Legislation and Law Reform for NAWL, spoke about her disappointment that “after extensive consultations with stakeholders in 2004 and 2005 this government has adopted a policy that goes completely against what was recommended in their own evaluation program that is on Status of Women Canada’s website.” She went on to reiterate that with the cuts NAWL “is anticipating layoffs of probably all our staff and we are not even sure we can commit to renewing our lease at this point, which will be ending in July.”
Equally disturbing to me were comments from some Government members that show they do not understand the broader picture. One member talked about groups being lobbied “by members opposite with not accurate information, so we’re really happy that you’re here today to get as much accurate information as you can because, indeed, we want to help women.” Another one requested witnesses to “try and be a bit more positive about where you think we, as Conservative women, may be going.”
Finally, I am pleased to report that a motion was passed to hold additional meetings in February on the cuts and changes at Status. So many groups have requested to appear that it seemed like the reasonable thing to do. As well, another motion was passed inviting the Minister to come before the Committee on February 1, 2007 to discuss the budget and administrative cuts. Government members abstained from voting on this motion.
If anyone reads this far, is there a list of all Members on the Committee hiding somewhere? I couldn’t find it. Women is not a category in the A-Z list at the New Government of Canada’s website.