Liberals to champion cause of missing women
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, May 14, 2009 8:42AM CST
The Conservative government is deflecting calls for a public investigation into more than 500 cases of missing or murdered native women.
Liberal MP Anita Neville says her party will push until the government acts.
She says there would be national outrage if hundreds of women from another cultural group were targeted the same way.
A recent report found that 520 native girls and women - most under the age of 30 - have been killed or have vanished since 1970.
Two-thirds of them - 348 women - were murdered, and almost one-quarter are still missing.
The government cites $5 million spent on the Sisters in Spirit research campaign, and says it's working on a second phase.
Neville says more action is needed.
"Their plight has been ignored long enough - it's time," she said Wednesday in the House of Commons.
The Liberals say they'll write to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson asking for action that goes beyond research.
"It's time to go beyond the record-keeping and find out why the police are not responding," Neville said.
"Why are these women missing? Are they women who come from poverty? What are their life circumstances that have put them in this position?"
Media also have a role to play to ensure no missing-person case is swept aside, said Liberal MP and aboriginal affairs critic Todd Russell.
Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, says native girls and women still don't get the same attention from police or the media when they vanish.
Time and again, families are told by officers that their daughter likely ran away or doesn't want to be found, she said.