Cheri’s Statement in the House on Trustee Irene Atkinson:
March 18, 2013: I stand today to deliver a love letter really on behalf of all of us to our beloved trustee Irene Atkinson, who is currently fighting for her health in an ICU unit. Irene, as many people know, succumbed to smoke inhalation because of a fire in her kitchen. Now I think we want to send her a message that we want her to fight for her own health the way she fought so hard for 40 years in my riding for the health of our children in our public school system.
Irene is a feisty woman. Irene is known, of course, for her efforts for a fully funded public education system. But we know her in Parkdale–High Park as a woman who calls a spade a bloody shovel and as a woman who stood up not just for the public education system, but for clean trains from Pearson to downtown, for parks, for everything really that would make our community a better place.
So now our love and our prayers go to Irene and her family, from all of us. I think I speak on behalf of all of us, Mr. Speaker. Irene, now is the time to fight for yourself because we need your energy more than ever. We need your spunk more than ever. We need you, Irene. We love you, Irene. Get well soon.
Cheri’s Bill to Protect Front-Line Workers
October 10, Queen’s Park - NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo held a press conference today to discuss Bill 129, a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act with regards to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The recently tabled bill ensures workers who suffer PTSD during or because of their employment are entitled to insurance benefits.
“As with many Health and Safety issues in the workplace, post-traumatic stress disorder is impossible to predict and can occur to anyone at anytime,” said DiNovo. “These changes assure that PTSD would be recognized as an occupational disease. As such, these workers are entitled to necessary benefits to get the treatment they need. This bill will help workers come forward, get the necessary treatment, and get back to work.”
Jim Christie, President of the Ontario Provincial Police Association agreed with the need for reform. “Under the current system, claims simply take too long, and some of our front-line uniform and civilian members are falling through the cracks. The OPP Association supports this bill because we want to see anyone who is suffering post-traumatic stress diagnosed, treated, and back to work when they’re healthy.”
At the press conference, DiNovo’s bill was supported by the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, the Police Association of Ontario, OPSEU Paramedics and the Ontario Provincial Police Association.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of mental stress that can occur after one has seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. It is characterized by reliving a psychologically traumatic situation through flashbacks and nightmares.
This is the third time DiNovo has tabled this Bill. It was previously tabled in 2008 and 2010.
Cheri Tackles Housing Crisis with Inclusionary Zoning Bill
September 26, Queen’sPark – NDP and Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo will table a Private Member’s Bill that will allow inclusionary zoning. This will enable municipalities to tackle the housing crisis currently plaguing Ontario.
“Developers have a responsibility to the communities they build in”, said DiNovo. “Allowing municipal governments to set a minimum requirement for affordable units in new developments is a low-cost way to provide Ontarians with badly needed access to lower-cost housing.”
Inclusionary zoning is in effect in dozens of jurisdictions in North America including Vancouver, Atlanta, Washington DC, San Francisco and Colorado.
“The Bill is not prescriptive. It does not impose on the municipalities. It simply gives them the tools to introduce inclusionary housing, if they choose to do so”, explained DiNovo.
Since the Bill was first tabled, over a dozen municipalities across Ontario including Toronto, London, and Thunder Bay passed motions in support of the Bill. The Regional Planning Commissioners of Ontario representing planning directors, commissioners and other senior officials of municipal governments across Ontario have also supported inclusionary zoning.
“Inclusionary zoning builds affordable housing without spending tax dollars. I hope the government will take this seriously and either pass it or bring their own legislation to allow it in Ontario” concluded DiNovo.
This will be DiNovo’s third attempt to get this Bill passed. Previously, the Bill passed second reading twice.
Cheri’s members’ statement supporting Iraqi War resister Kim Rivera
Cheri questioning the government about underfunding of emergency services for women
Cheri questions Premier McGuinty on issues at Marineland
Bill 33 – Toby’s Law Passes!
On June 13th, Toby’s Law passed its third reading in the legislature, adding gender identity in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Cheri had fought for Toby’s Act the entire six years she has been in the Ontario Legislature and this was the fourth time she introduced the bill.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Wow. Can you believe this is happening? It’s astounding. It’s astounding for a variety of reasons, but it’s particularly astounding in a kind of slightly humorous way, because Toby, were Toby alive today, was a very private person and would be completely embarrassed by all of this.
I want to start by introducing some incredibly important people, and those are the people who are sitting in our gallery. We have Douglas Elliott from the Ontario GSA Coalition. We know Doug. We have the Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, Boris Dittrich; Andrea Houston; Kevin Beaulieu, Luka Sidaravicius—these are Pride people—another, Luka Amona, Francisco Alvarez, Evan Dean, all from Pride; Richard Hudler from Queer Ontario; Lynn Anne Mulrooney from the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, senior policy analyst; Bahar Karbalaei—I’m going to massacre these names—again from the RNAO; Susan Gapka, famous Susan, the chair of Trans Lobby Group; Davina Hader, from Trans Lobby Group; Christin Milloy, from Trans Lobby Group; Martine Stonehouse, the famous Martine, from Trans Lobby Group; Nick Mule, also from Trans Lobby Group; Shannon Hogan and Pamela Bond, who were responsible for putting the stained glass window of Toby Dancer in our church, are here—two good friends; Alex Moakler; Stefonknee Wolscht; Rachel Lewis; Jonathan Mackereth; Dwayne Shaw; Amanda Ryan; Stephanie Williams; my own staff, Susan Rogers, Gerard Di Trolio, Ramesh Rajandram—thanks, staff, for all your work—and also Butila Carpacci, my EA, who’s not here; Emily McDonald and Debbie Wooldridge.
If I left anybody out, we love you too, whoever you are, so thank you.
I can still remember Toby’s playing. Every Sunday night, Toby played Amazing Grace. She was our music director at the church. The reason that Toby played Amazing Grace every Sunday night—although she hated playing it after a while, as you can imagine—was that the evening service was and is made up of people mainly on social assistance, people who are marginalized because of mental health and addiction issues. Many of them didn’t have glasses that worked, back in the day when Toby played, and many others had literacy issues. It didn’t even work to do overheads for them. So Toby had to play Amazing Grace, because everybody knows the words—at least, to the first verse—of Amazing Grace.
What Toby would have preferred to have played was jazz. Toby was a John Coltrane fan. She was a phenomenal producer of Ian Tyson albums, as was mentioned, and a great studio musician. I remember that one service we did, which we called John Squared, was the gospel of John and the music of John Coltrane. I think it had an audience of about four people, but that’s okay. We had a good time.
A few facts about not only Toby but about all trans folk that I think are really important to hold, that haven’t been mentioned yet: 48% of trans people attempt suicide. That is the highest suicide rate of any marginalized group you can imagine or mention. About the same number live in poverty, and Toby represented both those groups: attempted suicide and living in poverty.
Once Toby began to transition, Toby’s life went downhill. Certainly, we saw from deputations that not only in employment but in trying to find a place to live, in all of those markers of prejudice, trans folk are the ones who suffer most, out of all of the marginalized groups. What we are doing here today, ladies and gentlemen, is the first step towards saving lives. That’s what we’re doing. We’re making that first step towards saving the lives of those who are deeply, deeply discriminated against, and that’s why today is so significant.
Toby was doing really well, we thought, as well as could be expected, considering the facts that I’ve just given you and the fact that she herself found it extremely difficult just to walk down the street. I hold that image up, Madam Speaker: just to walk down the street.
We had another wonderful trans person who came through our congregation who was the first ordained trans person in the United Church of Canada: Cindy Bourgeois. Love to Cindy—she’s out there in Stratford, doing her church work. Cindy is six foot four. She didn’t pass very well; looked more male than female; constantly walked down the street to verbal abuse. Imagine walking out your door every day to verbal abuse. Cindy used to joke—she’s six foot four—“Come on. Come and get me,” right? But still, that’s hard. That’s difficult.
Jurisdictionally, this will be the first major jurisdiction in all of North America, not just Canada, to pass this gender identity and gender expression into its human rights code. That is significant. The Northwest Territories has been mentioned. Not to say anything negative about our Northwest Territories brothers and sisters, but there are only about 40,000 people who live there. We have 13 million in Ontario. This is huge. This is a huge, historic step forward for human rights, for all people, because when you stand up for the human rights of a minority of people, you’re standing up for the human rights of all people, and that’s what we’re doing here today.
I’ve had calls from New York state, from North Carolina. This will have an impact beyond the borders of Canada.
I was in Winnipeg, the mayoral town of the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, just about a week ago, speaking to the attorney general there—and they’re copying us, by the way, on the record. They’re going to be bringing in gender identity themselves this week at some point. But we still beat them—yay! It was a friendly competition, I said, in which we all win.
Certainly, federally—here’s where I want to say, first of all, hats off to the member from Whitby–Oshawa. I have to say that if Toby were alive to hear Progressive Conservatives talk in glowing terms about her, she would have been verklempt. Thank you all, to the Progressive Conservative Party, who really showed your progressive conservative side today. Thank you for being progressive. And thank you for speaking to your husband. Thank you for speaking to the Minister of Finance, who voted in favour of this bill federally.
How amazing, that we live in a country where this bill can go to committee, and I’m sure it will eventually work its way out and be passed federally as well. But again, just to be a little competitive here, I have to say that when we pass it here today, it will cover the rights of more people than the federal bill will, still. The federal bill is a lot more constrained in terms of the numbers of people it covers, so again we’re making history for all of Canada here in terms of just the numbers of people that this bill will affect.
You ask, “Well, what will it affect?” I can think of a number of ways. One of the struggles for trans people is around identification. We heard lots of testimony about identification issues. This will help them get an OHIP card, get a driver’s licence. It will help them there. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for psychiatrists: This could open up a challenge to that. There are all sorts of ways in which this bill could begin to change the scenario for trans people in the way that trans folk are viewed and the experience that trans folk have.
I mean, just for a moment, can you actually imagine a child—for those with young children who are listening, and those with young children in the chamber, one of them, statistically, may be trans. Imagine the different world that that child will grow up in because of this bill and all that it entails and all that it will unleash in terms of the way we go about our lives in Ontario: who we hire, how easy it is to get hired; who we rent to, how easy it is to get rent; quality of life, income levels, education. Every aspect of one’s existence will be affected by this bill, potentially. That, too, is phenomenally historic.
Really, what we’re doing is simply one thing, and that is to recognize that trans folk are human beings like the rest of us.
I also want to give a shout-out to the member from Ottawa Centre, to Yasir, and to thank you so, so much for carrying this forward on your side. That’s the other aspect of this bill that’s quite wonderful. This bill shows how minority government can work. You’ll witness in about 40 minutes that we’ll all start yelling at each other again, but for this halcyon moment, that’s not the case. For this halcyon moment, we’re actually all working together, with a common theme, to a common end, and that’s something that really overrides just about everything else, and that’s human rights itself, civil rights, which I’m sure inspires all of us to have even run to be here in this chamber. Showing that minority government can work is critical, and I think that’s what we were all elected to do. We were elected to a minority government to show that it can work. This is what it looks like when it works at its very best.
Shout-outs, too, to the Attorney General, who’s here, and the past Attorney General, who’s here as well. Thank you for your offices and for your staff, and thank you for becoming part of the solution and not part of the problem, which is amazing. I know, again, that this will open up all sorts of things, Mr. Attorney General, in your department as well. It’s great that we’re voting together on this so that that will roll out seamlessly—also good.
What else to say? I want to thank a few people. I want to thank the people from Emmanuel Howard Park United Church. I’m not part of that church anymore. When you leave the pulpit, you leave the church. But it was a phenomenal moment in history, a phenomenal group of people who actually allowed the church to be transformed, wrote a book about it, won a prize about it, but it really was the people in the church who allowed that to happen, who allowed a church to become inclusive and grow because of its inclusion. We have a great member here, the Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, who showed how one can do that in church: grow a church based on inclusion.
This is true, by the way, not just of Christians but of all faiths. I’ve had letters from some wonderful people of faith, including in the Jewish faith, supporting Toby’s bill. Again, that shows that all faiths can be open; all faiths can be inclusive.
I want to give a shout-out, too, to members here from the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association—Cheryl Fullerton, I see up there. Her name wasn’t mentioned. Again, talking about people of faith: a union of Catholic teachers who voted 90% in favour of gay-straight alliances and are also here in support of Toby’s bill. The times they are a-changing, no doubt, but true people of faith, people who walk in faith, walk there because they’re called to love their neighbours as themselves, no matter what the faith is that they represent. Truly, trans folk are our neighbours, and we’re doing the work of faith here, not only the historic work but the work of faith here.
I got a letter from a young trans person that was both tragic and beautiful. I’m going to paraphrase it and not read it. What she talked about in the letter was how she grew up constantly bullied, ostracized by her family, kicked out of the house at 14, lived on the streets, ended up in sex trade work and drug abuse, found her fleeting way back—this is not an atypical story, unfortunately. She found her fleeting way back to a group of caring adults, finally got her feet on the floor, got a job—a minimum wage job—was putting her life back together one piece at a time, and talked about the trials and tribulations and the horrors of her day. Again, she talked about that searing moment that I described in the life of many trans folk, of just walking out the door into abuse every day on the streets of our cities. She said, “If this bill—Toby’s bill—passes, this will give me hope.” To extend hope to those who are hopeless is also the job of all of us here as legislators, and that’s what we’re doing.
Toby, we thought, was doing well, as I say, but, it turns out, wasn’t doing so well: had been clean and sober for many, many years and fell off that wagon and died of an overdose. We’re not even sure how or why. I want to send condolences and regards to the other organization in Toby’s life, which is Parkdale Activity–Recreation Centre—a phenomenal organization on Queen Street that feeds 150 people a day; phenomenal social workers who work out of there. Toby was also their music director and led a band there as well, and originally walked into that place to get food—just like she walked into Emmanuel Howard Park, because we had a dinner on Sunday nights. It slowly rolled out from there.
Again, Toby’s life was abusive. Her sister also was trans and also died of suicide—a phenomenally musical family; phenomenal success stories. As she transitioned and as her sister transitioned—Starr was her name—it became tragic very quickly. When Toby died, friends of Toby’s dressed her before she was placed in the coffin. Toby usually just wore jeans and T-shirts—that kind of gal—but for her funeral, she was dressed in a mini skirt, high heels, a beautiful blouse and full makeup. We hadn’t seen Toby as her true self until that moment—profoundly sad and yet profoundly glad at the same time. I know Toby is listening to this and I know Toby is watching.
After that, we put up a stained glass window—I’ve told this story before in this chamber. We thought we were the only church with a stained glass window of a trans person anywhere in the universe. It was a picture of Toby playing the piano, put up there and donated by Shannon and Pam, whom I introduced earlier. When I said that at the funeral, somebody yelled out, “Yeah, but what about Joan of Arc?”, which makes you think of historical trans folk as well. Who knows?
Toby would be embarrassed, shy; probably would not have shown up to this debate if she were alive. But certainly what we’re doing here today is to memorialize not only Toby Dancer—and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have Conservative research do research on Toby Dancer; that’s just amazing; it would be amazing—but every other trans person who has died in an untimely fashion. We’re memorializing them all. We’re giving them a fitting funeral. Not only that; we’re providing them with a resurrection story, and that is that from now on, that doesn’t have to happen. We will not only pass this bill but we will absolutely commit ourselves to our children and the children of the future that that story is never, ever repeated in quite that way.
We will be at the threshold of a new Ontario, a new Canada, because they’re all following suit after us, and actually a new North America, because I know it’s going to change south of the border as well, state by state by state. We’re the first. I herald that. Despite the Northwest Territories—as I say, there are only 40,000 people there. We’re the first. I’m proud, so proud, to be an Ontarian and so proud to be a Canadian and so proud to be part of an assembly where we’re all on the same page about this.
I think back to what I started with: Toby Dancer playing Amazing Grace. To that poor, young trans person who wrote me that letter: It’s not a hope we’re talking about here; it is grace, and it is amazing.
Mr. Yasir Naqvi: I want to take this opportunity to really recognize the work and persistence of the member from Parkdale–High Park. She is a great definition of a defender of those who need their voice to be spoken. She never steps back from speaking for the vulnerable in our community and she has used this Legislature—the perfect place to do so—to raise issues that need to be discussed. So I salute you, MPP DiNovo, for bringing this bill not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times to ensure that we protect the rights of the trans community. And thank you for working with the rest of us and bringing us into the fold as part of this debate, as part of this bill, to ensure that we get it done this time around.
Mrs. Christine Elliott: To my fellow members here in the chamber: I also would like to pay tribute to the member from Parkdale–High Park, who has laboured long and hard on this. On the fourth time, we’ve finally gotten it to third reading.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I want to thank my friend the member for Parkdale–High Park. I think it’s been mentioned a number of times: One of the major reasons this bill is before us is not just because of her unrelenting work on this but also because she reached out to others, and she played a very catalytic role in this. As my mother always says to me, “If you don’t worry about who gets the credit in life, Glen, you’ll get a lot more done.” I think that was important.
New Drive Clean Program will drive independent garage owners out of business: DiNovo
QUEEN’S PARK – Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo today pressed the McGuinty government for answers with regards to the changes in Ontario’s Drive Clean Program that are driving independent garage owners out of business.
Changes to the program require garage owners to spend up to $20,000 in new equipment, even if their old equipment is still working well. They also have to pay extra fees for re-accreditation and monthly maintenance. All of this was done without proper consultations with garage owners.
“This unfairly targets independent garage owners at a time when the economy has not recovered,” said DiNovo. “As it is they are having a hard time keeping their business going. This additional cost is going to drive them out of business.”
The changes to the program were developed by Parsons, the company that is the only service provider for all equipments and services in this new program. The government has also been late in getting information to businesses at every step of the modernization program leaving businesses little time to come up with a financial plan and financing for this program.
“Small businesses provide 90 per cent of the jobs in our province. Why is the government hindering small businesses instead of helping them?” asked DiNovo.
2nd Reading of Bill 33 – Toby’s Act
Cheri’s Question to the Minister of Community and Social Services about the Community Start Up Program
Question Period May 7th 2012:
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. The community start-up and maintenance benefit has provided thousands of social assistance recipients with emergency financial support to avoid eviction and homelessness. The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic says that the government’s decision to cut this benefit by 50% and transfer the remainder to municipalities will, “lead to more homelessness in Hamilton and in communities across Ontario.” Why, we ask, is the McGuinty government making a decision that experts say will actually increase homelessness?
Hon. John Milloy: I thank the member for the question. Mr. Speaker, as I’ve admitted in this House before, we had to make some hard decisions when it came to the recent budget. At the same time, I would outline to the member that there are only three areas where the government is investing significantly in investments going forward: That is, in terms of health care, education and the final one, social assistance, where we’re seeing an average increase moving forward of some 2.7% in my ministry and in that of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
In terms of CSUM, Mr. Speaker, it’s a housing benefit. As the honourable member is aware, we are right now in the process of finalizing a long-term housing strategy which takes a number of programs under my ministry and transfers them to municipalities, removing many of the rules and barriers which have not allowed municipalities to spend that money in a way that’s appropriate.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Again, to the minister: The community start-up and maintenance benefit is absolutely the last resource many people have before being forced right out into the street. It’s a homelessness prevention program. Now this program’s funding is being cut by 50%. How will the government ensure that municipalities actually use the transferred funds to help people avoid eviction and homelessness? We’d like some answers on this. And what guarantee will the government give that more people on social assistance will not end up on the street because of this very cut?
Hon. John Milloy: For a long time, housing advocates have recognized the fact that we have a variety of programs which are offered by my ministry, programs … for a long time housing advocates have recognized the fact that we have a variety of programs which are offered by my ministry, programs offered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which have been very difficult for municipalities to administer. There had been tight rules around them and there had been barriers around them. We have situations where municipalities are spending literally thousands of dollars to support someone in a setting and not have that capacity to take that money and put them in a more appropriate setting and offer the support.
What we are talking about through this new program is giving municipalities the flexibility they need to start to plan, to start to work with their communities and use this money that’s aimed at keeping people at risk out of homelessness situations, finding homes and supports for them and making sure that they can move forward. This is the approach coming forward. This is something that poverty advocates have long called for. This is something the municipal sector has wanted for a long time and it’s going to mean a big difference for those in poverty.
TAX CHANGES — Ontario Trillium Tax Credit
Due to the pressure put by MPP Cheri DiNovo and other NDP MPPs on the government regarding the new rules to the Ontario Tax Credits, which have taken many Ontarians by surprise. Minister Duncan in an answer during Question Period indicated that the government will bring forward regulatory changes to the legislation. This legislation would order to give people the choice to either have their Ontario tax credits in a lump sum payment or in the proposed 12-month installments.
February 23, 2012
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Mr. Speaker, last night in my riding, we had a powerful and moving event. It was a candlelight vigil for the Roma refugees and immigrants in my riding. There were about 300 people there, and when asked if they had ever experienced violence in their home countries, many of them coming from European Union countries likeHungary and the formerCzechoslovakia, all of them put their hands up. We asked them if they had ever experienced oppression or racism. All of them, including the children, put their hands up.
They were there for another reason too, and that’s a draconian bill that’s being brought in by the federal government under the auspices of Jason Kenney, Bill C-31. It’s a bill that will limit even more Roma people from being able to seek refugee by the federal government under the auspices of Jason Kenney, Bill C-31. It’s a bill that will limit even more Roma people from being able to seek refugee status in this country; we only accept 2% of those who are applying now.
I also remind the members that Roma were victims of the Holocaust as well: Two million Roma were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust years. The least we can do is to accept those who are already being faced with deportation from home countries, who are faced with imprisonment and violence and draconian laws throughoutEurope.
We strongly oppose this bill. We ask that the government here do what they can to oppose it when they’re dealing with the federal government, and we ask all members to be very aware of the plight of the Roma people, not only here in Ontario—although they are here—but everywhere in the world.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Woman Abuse Prevention Month
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s an honour and privilege always to stand as women’s critic, on behalf of the New Democratic Party and our leader Andrea Horwath, to speak to this important initiative.
Many people here know that I used to be in active duty as aUnitedChurchminister full time. What they don’t know is that in our church, a large portion of our church came from marginalized communities, many with mental health issues, many with addiction issues, many with prison records.
But I have to say that though hundreds would flock to our sanctuary from those communities, I never felt frightened once, except for one day. One day, on a Saturday afternoon, this young woman, well-heeled, well-educated, came running into the church, chased by her husband. There were programs going on—yoga programs, yoga classes—and children were in the building. She ran into my study. I locked the door. He chased her from room to room, upsetting the entire establishment. There was no time to call the police. Finally, luckily—and it was luck only, Mr. Speaker—when he left, I found her cowering in my office in terror. For a few minutes, I and we got a taste of what she lived with every day of her life.
I want to focus on two initiatives, two positive initiatives, that we all support here at the House. Number 1, Ruth’s Daughters, was launched at Queen’s Park two years ago on Mother’s Day. Donna Cansfield and Christine Elliott came, along with faith leaders from acrossOntario, and we all agreed on one thing: We wanted to see an end to domestic violence. And that happened in this very House.
I want to report, Mr. Speaker, that since that day, we’ve encouraged all faith traditions to focus one service a year on this issue, and it has happened. There have been two huge masses done by the Roman Catholic church, and many services by other denominations and faiths. Many groups have started since then. We look forward to this Mother’s Day to commemorate those events.
The second initiative, the White Ribbon Campaign, has already been mentioned. What wasn’t mentioned is that it was started by someone who now belongs to all Canadians—that’s our own Jack Layton. He and a couple of others were at a kitchen table. They were men who said, in response to the member from the PC caucus, that men have to do something about this initiative. And now, as you heard, it’s in 60 different countries.
Last Sunday in mychurchofHumbercrest United, the two initiatives met as we did a service for Ruth’s Daughters, and the lead speaker was the executive director, Todd Minerson, from the White Ribbon Campaign initiatives met as we did a service for Ruth’s Daughters and the lead speaker was the executive director Todd from the White Ribbon Campaign.
When we discussed the service and we set it up, we thought we would have a candle-lighting ceremony at the end of the service to commemorate women who had been lost to members of the community or known to be lost by members of the community, and we discussed how many candles to get. We didn’t know if anybody would get up—we’re United Churchers, we’re a little reticent—to light a candle but we bought 25 thinking maybe about 25 people would come forward. Every single person from that congregation got up and walked to the front to light a candle in prayer and remembrance of some woman they knew who had been lost to domestic violence. That’s how pervasive the problem is. We ran out of candles, but, Mr. Speaker, we never run out of hope.
I hope that those candles and the light from that service and the light that’s been shed here today on this problem is carried forth by every member here into their communities; that they find out about Ruth’s Daughters and the White Ribbon Campaign if they don’t know much about them and that they carry that light forward so that, in the holiday season we all look forward to, we share with our families a season of peace, a season that is free from domestic violence, and a season, Mr. Speaker, and members here, that is safe for all of our sisters.