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This article was published 25/6/2015 (1705 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — Outgoing Manitoba Regional Minister Shelly Glover says she has no regrets from her seven years in Ottawa, but she does have one big disappointment.
And that is that the issue of murdered and missing indigenous women has not, she said, been given the kind of balance it deserves.
"My personal heartbreak has been to watch this issue as it has been reported," said Glover.
More than 1,000 aboriginal women were murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2014. Aboriginal women account for less than five per cent of the female population in Canada but 16 per cent of the female murder victims. They also account for about 11 per cent of missing women in Canada.
Many aboriginal leaders and the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission report want a national inquiry launched to delve into the problem and make recommendations on how to stem the tide of violence against aboriginal women and girls.
The Conservative government has been steadfastly against the idea of holding what it argues would be a costly inquiry that would simply repeat the 40 studies and reports on the subject already completed. Instead, it says it’s time to do something, not to study it more.
Glover says that just doesn’t get the same attention as people demanding a national inquiry.
"I’ve met with families and with chiefs who don’t want an inquiry," she said. "That doesn’t get reported."
She said too much focus has been on chiefs and people who want a national inquiry, and not enough on real action.
Last year $25 million was set aside by the government over five years for a National Action Plan which includes $8.6 million for developing community safety plans, $2.5 million for projects to break the cycles of violence and abuse, $5 million to empower women and teach men to denounce and prevent violence, $7.5 million for victim services and help for victims’ families and $1.4 million to share information and report on progress under the plan.
Glover said it doesn’t make sense to her why communities aren’t using the government help to educate kids about the dangers they might face off the reserve, to help families address the domestic violence. It’s up to the chiefs and the communities to take the initiative, she said.
"The government can’t go onto a reserve and tell kids who are about to go into Winnipeg ‘don’t go to this house here, it’s a crack house," said Glover.
Last week a new RCMP report updating statistics on murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada found of the 32 aboriginal women murdered in RCMP jurisdiction in 2013 and 2014, 100 per cent of them were killed by someone they knew – a spouse, family member or acquaintance.
But Glover said last winter, when Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt made a statement to chiefs at a meeting in Alberta that most aboriginal women were killed by aboriginal men, the media crucified him. Some chiefs at the meeting called for his resignation and others demanded he produce the information backing up his claims.
The data on the ethnicity of the offenders was not included in the original report on missing and murdered aboriginal women released by the RCMP in May 2014, and initially the RCMP refused to confirm Valcourt’s assertion saying it didn’t collect data on ethnic origins of offenders.
However RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson did eventually confirm Valcourt was telling the truth. The latest report, released last week, did not again identify the ethnicity of offenders, it just identified the offenders’ relationship to their victims.
Among both aboriginal and non-aboriginal women, homicide victims are most likely to be killed by someone they know, and it’s usually a spouse, domestic partner or family member.
Glover is among several cabinet ministers leaving politics this year for family reasons. Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Industry Minister James Moore both recently announced departures citing a desire to spend more time with their young children.
More than 50 incumbent MPs – 31 Conservatives, 14 NDP MPs, five Liberals, four independents and one Bloc MP – have announced plans not to run again. Several more have already left including Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and new Ontario Tory Leader Patrick Brown.
It is the largest class of retiring incumbents since 2004. Some think it’s a sign the government may be about to change hands and that Conservative MPs are fleeing before they end up on opposition benches.
Others believe it’s a consequence of the changing pension plan for MPs. If an MP retires before this election, they can begin collecting their MP pension at age 55. If they stay on, the formula gets more complicated because of changes made to the plan that take effect after the next election. It means they can’t begin to collect their entire monthly pension until they turn 65, and while they can collect some of it starting at age 55, they take a penalty to do so. MPs will also start contributing three times as much to their pension starting this fall. Currently MPs contribute about $1 for every $6 contributed by the taxpayer.
After the election it will be about $1 for every $1.
MPs who resign when the writ is dropped or who are defeated in the election are also eligible for a severance worth 50 per cent of their salary. For Glover that will amount to about $122,000.
Glover said she told her family she’d give a decade to politics and they held her to it. First elected in October 2008, Glover entered politics in September 2006 when she announced her intention to seek the Conservative nomination in Saint Boniface. She was acclaimed to the role a few months later.
She took an extended leave of absence from the Winnipeg Police Service and will return to policing after taking a bit of downtime.
She said she has spoken to Chief Devon Clunis a few times about where she will fit in but she doesn’t want to be stuck in an office in a back room somewhere. She wants to be out on the streets, seeing for herself what the impact is of the law and order bills she helped contribute to while in government.
"I’m looking forward to going back to police work and kicking some doors in," she said.