Opposition Motion—Missing Aboriginal Women

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for St. Paul’s for bringing this important motion to the House, and the hon. Parliamentary Secretary for her remarks.

This is obviously an issue that touches us all. We are deeply concerned about the failure to respond to crimes and our seeming inability and lack of political will to prevent them from occurring.

There is a very specific proposal that I think has real promise. It is not the whole solution but one small piece. I would be grateful to hear the Parliamentary Secretary’s view on it. My understanding is that the only barrier to implementing this idea is money, yet it would cost much less than we spent last year on celebrating the War of 1812.

The idea is a DNA databank. It has been studied in committee. The idea is that at a crime scene of a murder where we have what is called a Jane or a John Doe, the information could be cross-referenced back to missing persons’ information. It is a sensible thing. It is known as Lindsey’s law in honour of a young woman named Lindsey from my riding who went missing when she was 14-years-old. It is coming up to 20 years ago that it occurred.

What is my hon. colleague’s view on the importance of bringing in a DNA databank?

Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for supporting the creation of the special committee, as it would appear from her remarks.

Many initiatives have already been undertaken and many others are under review. This is a complex issue and I think it is unfortunate that in the rhetoric from the opposition, we hear extreme language such that we have done nothing and that we never pay attention. That is simply not true.

Among our many initiatives has been establishing the new National Centre for Missing Persons; enhancing the Canadian Police Information Centre’s database; creating a national website to help match older missing persons cases and unidentified human remains; supporting the development of school and community pilot projects aimed at reducing vulnerability to violence among young aboriginal women; supporting the development and adaptation of victims’ services so that they are culturally appropriate for aboriginal people; developing a comprehensive list of best practices to help communities, law enforcement and justice partners in future work; working with aboriginal communities to develop their own adapted community safety plans; and supporting the development and distribution of public awareness materials. The list is extensive.

However, it is obviously a crisis and a tragic issue, and we agree that we should all be part of ongoing work and solutions. If there are innovative ideas to bring forward, I would hope they would be brought to the committee.