Tag Archives: rona ambrose

A Television Series Senator Plett Should Watch

I just finished watching the television series Unbelievable. It isn’t an easy drama to view but it is an important one. It tells a true story about a serial rapist who attacks a young girl in Washington and then a string of women in Colorado. He meets his match when two dogged female detectives literally work night and day and leave no stone unturned to try and find him and convict him.

Toni Collette and Merritt Wever are brilliant in their roles as two female detectives pursuing a serial rapist. – Photo from Netflix

Unbelievable teaches you a great deal about rape.

Police can interview victims in a way that makes them feel like their story isn’t believable or they can interview them in sensitive and respectful ways.

Although it shouldn’t make a difference, a woman’s past, her race, her age or even her occupation can have an impact on how seriously her rape claims are taken.

Men with military backgrounds and police backgrounds are checked first as possible suspects because they have a much higher rate of violent behaviour.

Police in one district don’t routinely share information about rapes with police in other districts. In Unbelievable the fact that detectives from two different districts work on finding a rapist together happens just as a matter of chance.

Rape changes a woman’s life forever. As the victims shared their stories in the trial during this series it didn’t matter whether they were box store workers or college students or grandmothers or career women the rapes devastated them, totally turned their lives upside down and left them vulnerable and afraid.

I kept thinking as I watched Unbelievable that a series like this should be mandatory viewing for judges and politicians. In 2017 former Conservative party leader Rona Ambrose introduced a bill in Parliament ensuring judges in Canada were trained in sexual-assault law. The bill required judges to learn about rape myths and stereotypes and how biases of race, gender and other social factors could influence their decisions.

Rona Ambrose the former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Rona Ambrose worked in a rape crisis centre in university and that experience made her realize the need for such a bill. She found support across the political parties for her legislation. Her efforts were definitely seen as necessary after an Alberta judge told a sexual assault victim she should have” just kept her knees together” and after a Halifax judge said a woman can give consent even when she is drunk. Ms. Ambrose said responses like those discourage women from reporting rapes and laying charges.

Rona Ambrose’s bill was passed unanimously in the House of Commons but Senator Don Plett from Manitoba and some of his Conservative colleagues decided to stall it in the Senate for over 700 days so it didn’t pass before the last federal election call. Ms Ambrose expressed her disdain that those “old boys” in the Senate had failed to protect Canadian women. She specifically called out Senator Plett for procedural stalling. A CBC article stated that “because of political procedural moves by the Conservative whip, Manitoba Sen. Don Plett, private member’s bills like Ms. Ambrose’s haven’t made it onto the Senate agenda.”

Such a response was hardly surprising since Senator Plett was a vocal supporter of President Trump who has faced some twenty-six charges of sexual misconduct, including rape, and brags about his skill at grabbing women’s genitalia. Senator Plett has referred to Mr Trump as his good friend.

Unbelievable makes you very aware that many things need to change if we want to adequately protect women from sexual assault and rape. I wonder if Senator Plett has watched Unbelievable? Maybe someone should suggest he do so.

Note: Something I found very interesting about the series is that one of the detectives on the case is a woman with a strong Christian faith and it helps her deal with the disturbing things she witnesses as she investigates rape incidents. Her partner on the case is an atheist because she can’t believe that if there was a God that God would allow such horrible things to happen to women. It is interesting to see how the two detectives influence one another in matters of faith as they pursue their case.

Note: The current Liberal government introduced a bill very similar to Ms. Ambrose’s and it passed in November. Because it is not a private member’s bill there is a much better chance it will make it through the Senate as well.

Note: The thing that makes Unbelievable so chilling is that it is almost 100% accurate in depicting a true story reported on the podcast This American Life and in a print story by Ken Armstrong and Christian Miller.

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Should Women With Young Children Be Politicians?

“Could Andrew Scheer have been elected the leader of a national party if he were a woman with five children including a newborn? “

In an essay in Macleans magazine Rona Ambrose, the previous interim leader of the Conservative party writes about ways to encourage more women to be involved in politics. She says we have to be willing to accept that women regardless of their physical attributes and family compositions are capable of holding government office.

Her comment about Andrew Scheer, the father of five young children and…….. the Conservative party leader who succeeded her, suggests we don’t always think of male and female politicians in the same way. There’s an assumption that mothers of large families with young children might not be the best political candidates, but fathers of similar families are.  Ambrose says this reflects not only the obvious practical challenges in such a situation but also ” the real, judgmental, and sexist perceptions that women face in politics. ”  

Women with young children should represent us politically.  They are in tune with the needs of young Canadian families and their voice is of great importance.  What things could we do to encourage and support them so they would not face stereotypical discrimination and so many practical impediments to political service? Should affordable child care with extended hours be offered on Parliament Hill? Should members of Parliament have more flexible working times, additional help with travel expenses so families can be together more often, and assistance with finding schools and housing in Ottawa? Should there be a greater openess to allowing children to be present in their parents’ work place on Parliament Hill?  Implementation of some of these changes has already begun  as this CTV News article suggests.

These changes will not only benefit women politicians but also support fathers like Andrew Scheer and my own member of Parliament Robert Falcon Ouellette who has five children, so they can share parenting responsibilities  more equally with their partners. 

Other posts………

Looking Back Instead of Forward

Could I Join the Conservative Party?

I Sat in the Speakers Chair

 

 

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Filed under Politics