What are the political parties saying?

Understanding party positions is important for political engagement. It can help you to think about which party might be best aligned with your values and interests. Better understanding party positions can help you choose who to vote for, which party to join. You can check out party positions in their platforms, issues during elections, platforms outline priorities and plans for government. Parties hold policy conventions where members can propose and vote on policies and positions.

While all parties condemn gender based violence, the policies they think are best to address the issue can significantly vary.  For example, while the 2015 federal Liberal, NDP, and Green parties included an inquiry into the missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada in their platforms, the Conservative party of Canada rejected the benefit of an inquiry and instead reiterated their “Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls”.

Federal Political Parties

Liberals:

  • At their most recent policy convention, the Liberals passed a motion on protecting LGBTQ rights and refugees and calling on the Minister of Foreign Affairs not to allow for the deportation of individuals to countries where the safety and security of human life is threatened because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 2015 Federal Campaign Platform

Conservatives

New Democratic Party

  • 2015 Federal Campaign Platform
  • During their 2016 policy convention, the NDP policy document recognized the belief that “ending violence against women by investing in prevention, education, and counselling, and by improving access to justice and protection of victims’ rights”, and “adequate, sustained and multi-year funding to expand access to shelter and transition houses to support women fleeing violence”.

Green Party of Canada

Provincial & Territorial Political Parties

What is being done now?

Key Laws

Federal Laws exist under the Criminal Code pertaining to the use of physical and sexual violence, including:

Act

Criminal Code

Assault (causing bodily harm, with a weapon and aggravated assault)

Section 265-268

Kidnapping & forcible confinement

Section 279

Trafficking in persons

Section 279.01

Abduction of a young person

Section 280-283

Homicide - murder, attempted murder, infanticide and manslaughter

Section 229-231, 235

Sexual assault (as well as sexual assault causing bodily harm, with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault)

Section 271-273

Sexual offences against children and youth

Section 151-153, 155, 170-172

Child pornography

Section 163.1

In terms of the laws that cover gender based violence, the resources available to survivors, and the policies for prevent, there is tremendous variation across the provinces and territories.

Feature: The Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Training Act (The JUST Act) serves to give transparency to sexual assault education and training for judges. This will be achieved by amedning the Judges Act to constrain eligibility for appointments to the judiciary to only individuals that have undertaken sexual assault education. The JUST Act further compels the Canadian Judicial Council to give reports pertaining to the continuing education seminars regarding sexual assault law. It also amends the Criminal Code to require the judiciary to offer written reasons in all sexual assault decisions. In May 2017, The JUST Act was passed in the House of Commons with unanimous support. It is now undergoing the next step of becoming a law by being reviewed by the Canadian Senate.

This bill demostrates the opportunity to make change through cross-party cooperation and women’s leadership. The bill was introduced by former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and was supported by other parties to pass the House of Commons. It is very rare for a Private Member’s Bill (a bill proposed by someone outside government) to pass as this one did. There is opportunity for collaboration and change!

Provincial & Territorial Government actions

  • British Columbia: Does not have specific legislation on family violence, and instead covers this area under their Family Law Act section 38 and their Victims of Crime Act.
  • Quebec: Does not have specific legislation on family violence, and instead covers violent actions against children in their Youth Protection Act.

Why do policies matter?

Survivors of gender-based violence often have their experiences dismissed, and are the subject of “victim-blaming” for the violence that they have endured. In February 2017, the Globe and Mail revealed that 1 in 5 sexual assault allegations within Canada are dismissed as baseless and therefore, unfounded. This is unique to sexual assault, as this dismissal by police is at a rate which is “dramatically higher than that of other types of crime.” Despite the unwillingness of society, including law enforcement agencies to believe survivors, it is a misconception that sexual assault is more heavily misreported than other crimes.

In fact, only between 2 through 8 percent of complaints are false reports, which is analogous to the false reporting rate of other crimes. The quick dismissal of sexual violence cases by Canadian police consequently “distorts” Canada’s crime statistics in this area to appear less than they actually are.

gbv