Tory MP calls study of link between resource development and violence ‘shameful’

OTTAWA — A private email shows a Conservative MP from Alberta calling “shameful” an NDP-initiated study on the relationship between resource development and increased violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Stephanie Kusie made the comments during an exchange ahead of a Tuesday meeting of a House of Commons committee to study the issue, which has been flagged as a concern by the National Inquiry into Women. and missing and murdered Indigenous girls.

The final report detailed how the inquiry heard from witnesses and received other evidence about the risk of largely male transient workers linked to major resource projects committing acts of physical or sexual violence against women. indigenous.

Findings from the survey reported an increase in cases of drug and alcohol offences, as well as harassment and assault.

Diane Redsky, executive director of the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Center in Winnipeg, told the Women’s Committee on Tuesday that whenever groups of men with money parachute into an area for a temporary period, violence against women occurs.

She was among the witnesses the Conservatives asked to testify.

Conservative committee chair Karen Vecchio had emailed some of her Conservative colleagues in Alberta several weeks earlier asking for suggestions of potential witnesses for the study, as well as possible leads for questions.

The email was inadvertently sent to the federal NDP. The party provided the initial email, along with a response received from Calgary MP Stephanie Kusie, to The Canadian Press.

Last Friday’s response shows Kusie, who doesn’t sit on the committee, saying, “In my opinion, that’s disgraceful.”

She suggested that Vecchio find a First Nations-owned natural resource company, and she also added that these companies contribute financially to First Nations initiatives.

“Disadvantaged groups will never progress as long as the collective left limits their prosperity,” she wrote.

Kusie said in a statement Tuesday that what she found shameful was that the study failed to recognize how the natural resource sector has often contributed positively to Indigenous communities.

Vecchio said in an interview Tuesday that she supports the study because the safety of women and girls is most important to her above all else.

She said any possible impact of the resource development sector on this issue should be explored, adding that the curators have made sure to include witnesses who can speak to the issue of human trafficking.

“When I look at this, I’m not looking specifically at one type of resources that are mined. What I want to look at is: if these things are happening, how can we stop them? said Vecchio.

“How do we make sure that there is proper education and awareness, that there are proper policies to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen in our communities and that young women and girls are not not victimized.”

Vecchio is the Conservative Critic for Women, Gender Equality and Youth.

NDP MP for Winnipeg Leah Gazan, who sits on the committee and proposed the idea for the study, said it was unfortunate that another MP called further examination of the issue “shameful”. .

“It is the dismissal of the current crisis of violence and genocide against indigenous women by some members of parliament,” Gazan said.

“I have to say what is shameful is that instead of wanting to help end the violence, they are more concerned with protecting the profits and reputations of the big fossil fuel companies… This justifies an apology.”

Several years ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau drew the ire of some conservatives and resource workers for suggesting that bringing workers to a rural area had gender implications.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 26, 2022.

Laura Osman and Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Harry D. Gonzalez