rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Wife of Canada's prime minister shows callous disregard for missing and murdered women

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

The wife of Canada's prime minister has been caught out on the issue of the hundreds of women who have gone missing or whose murders are unsolved in Canada over the past four decades, many of whom are Aboriginal. Laureen Harper challenged a 21 year old activist who interrupted her speech at a black-tie event in Toronto on April 17 that was raising funds for… stray cats.

"Mrs. Harper, raising awareness of about cat welfare is a good look for your husband's upcoming campaign strategy," activist Hailey King called out, disrupting Harper's speech. "Don't you think supporting an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women would be a better look?" 

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."

She paused ever so briefly and then addressed the issue raised by King: “That’s a great cause, but tonight we’re here for homeless cats.”

Harper’s husband is the prime minister who is resisting calls by Aboriginal women and so many other human rights advocates for a public inquiry into more than 800 missing or murdered women.

Activists with ‘Shit Harper Did’ have released a video, here, of Laureen Harper’s callous dismissal of Hailey King’s concerns.

In February, leaked Conservative Party documents obtained by the Toronto Star showed that party strategy for the 2015 federal election will include exploiting Laureen Harper’s popularity. The paper reported: “Under ‘Tactical Plans/Strategies,’ it says 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.”

Canada is currently under investigation by the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women for its treatment of Aboriginal women. The investigation was requested by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action because of government inaction on missing and murdered Aboriginal women, among other concerns.

Canada is one of only two countries to be formally investigated by CEDAW. The other is Mexico in 2003-2004, in response to the murders of women occurring in the state of Chihauhua.

One year ago, following investigations in northern BC, the international agency Human Rights Watch issued an explosive, 89-page report stating that Canada’s federal police force is failing in its duty to protect women and girls in the north of the province. The report accused the RCMP itself of sexist and violent conduct against women, whose rights the police force is supposed to be protecting.

One of the recommendations in 2012 of the BC government inquiry into murdered Aboriginal women in the province ('Pickton Inquiry') was to establish public transportation along the 'Highway of Tears' in northern BC. That's the 700 km stretch of Highway 16 that connects Prince George in the BC interior to Prince Rupert on the northwest coast. An estimated two dozen women have gone missing along the highway over the past several decades.

Public transportation along the route is poor or non-existent. Cuts to VIA Rail passenger service by previous Conservative governments in Ottawa (left untouched by succeeding Liberal regimes) eliminated daily service more than 20 years ago. Poor women have historically been left dependent on hitchhiking to get around. A recent Globe and Mail article reports that women are still obliged to resort to hitchhiking, notwithstanding all the awareness and concern generated by the cases of disappeared women.

The Highway of Tears is geographically proximate to the proposed tar sands (Northern Gateway) and fracked natural gas pipeline routes to run from Alberta or northeast BC to the province’s northwest coast. In the regressive, fossil-fuel corrupted Canada of 2014, there's loads of money and regulatory approval for pipelines available, but funding for life-saving bus and train service for poor and Aboriginal people is a non-starter. Even the harsh judgements of the BC inquiry into murdered Aboriginal women and human rights agencies such as CEDAW and Human Rights Watch are not enough to spark action by federal and provincial governments or concern by a prime minister’s wife.

Who will be surprised as more and more popular revolts such as Idle No More spring up against these awful injustices?

See: Ten unheeded calls for a Canadian inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous  women, by David P. Ball, published in Indian Country Today, Feb 11, 2014.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.