The following is a statement made by the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister for Status of Women, on the occasion of Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women on December 6, 2010, marking the 21st anniversary of the murder of 14 young women at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal.
On Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, I extend a call to action to all Canadians to take leadership in the effort to end violence against women and girls.
Ending violence against women should be the shared responsibility of all of us: government, citizens, police, the justice system, media, non-profit groups, the private sector, and community organizations.
The call to action must extend to men and boys, along with women and girls, if we are to achieve progress and lasting change. Men have the opportunity to be leaders in their communities and speak out against acts of violence that we find intolerable in Canada.
It is a sign of strength to stand up for something as critical as ending violence against women; it is a sign of weakness to remain complacent and let it happen.
As Minister for Status of Women, I am proud that ending violence against women is a major element of our government's tough on crime agenda.
Since 2007, Status of Women Canada has invested more than $30 million for projects to end violence against women and girls in communities across the country. The Government of Canada has also acted swiftly to make our communities safer: we have increased penalties for violent crimes and introduced legislation that would increase penalties for the sexual abuse of children, ended house arrest for violent crimes, and taken action against human trafficking that results in the exploitation of women. We recently announced a strategy to address the alarming rate of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The initiative will improve tools for law enforcement, enhance victims' services and provide support for community-based public safety and awareness efforts.
Importantly, the Government of Canada introduced a new citizenship guide, which conveys our principled standard of the fair, equitable, and respectful treatment of women and girls. In "Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship," our message is clear: no form of discrimination or violence against women will be tolerated, and Canada's openness and generosity as a country do not extend to barbaric cultural practices such as "honour killings," female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence.
Today is an opportunity to reflect on the tragedy of the Montréal Massacre, and to reach out to all families of female victims whose lives have been taken away by acts of violence. May we use the act of remembering to fuel the collaborative efforts across our nation. As Canadians, we must be firm and principled in our commitment to the fair, equitable and respectful treatment of all citizens, and speak out against the intolerable acts of violence against women and girls.