Late Thursday night in Toronto, Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, attended a lolcatz!
Internet cat video festival and fundraiser. This black tie event was to raise money for stray cats. Lady
Harper even wore a pair of black, kitten ears on her head for the event.
While I have nothing against cats, stray or grumpy or otherwise, I want to note a certain interruption to Lady Harper's speech.
That night, 21 year old activist, Hailey King, heckled her about her concern for cats but little concern, emotion or accountability shown for the over 800 cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women.
She called out to Harper to answer, "Mrs. Harper, raising awareness of about cat welfare is a good look for your husband's upcoming campaign strategy," disrupting Harper's speech. "Don't you think supporting an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women would be a better look?"
To which, Lady Harper shot back, ""We're raising money for animals tonight. If you'd like to donate to animals, we'd love to take your money."
Harper paused ever so briefly and then addressed the issue raised, "That's a great cause, but tonight we're here for homeless cats."
Right after the verbal exchange, King was forced to leave the event by Harper's security detail despite the fact that she had paid to attend.
The jab about elections is reference to a February 2014 article about leaked federal conservative government reported on by the Toronto Star. The documents in question show that Stephen Harper's Conservative party plans to exploit Laureen Harper's popularity to help win the 2015 federal election.
It goes on to say that the party will 'Connect PM with people', 'Leverage Mrs. Harper' and launch a 'With Mrs. Harper' video series among others to put a more human face on the government and grab eyeballs in the digital age."
If "tonight is about cats," when will it be a fair turn for the families of the 800 Indigenous women in Canada?
So far, the government has fought tooth and nail against investing in an Indigenous focused, national inquiry, into the deaths of so many Indigenous murdered and missing women and the impact this has on their communities and Canada as a whole.
For one thing, according to StatsCan, Indigenous women and girls are three and a half times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women — and seven times more likely to be murdered.
"Mrs. Harper's dismissal and diversion of the issue of MMIW is reflective of the priority given to this current crisis and just how insignificant Indigenous women's lives are to the Harper government. Cats are cute and all but wouldn't it be more helpful for the wife of the PM to actually be concerned about addressing an issue that affects women all across this country such as the lives of hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls?" states Melina Laboucan-Massimo, whose sister is the most recent Indigenous woman in Toronto to have lost her life with her death still under investigation and listed as suspicious.
"My family deals with this issue every night - leaving this issue unaddressed and relegated to "another night" is inadequate and quite frankly insensitive."
You can watch video of the confrontation here.
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