Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 29, 2006
PM meets with CWL
With pen and pad in hand, Stephen Harper asks, 'How can I help you'
- Photo courtesy PMO
A delegation from the Catholic Women's League, including national president Agnes Bedard (right of PM) met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa May 15.
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
In 24 years worth of annual visits to Parliament Hill, a delegation from the Catholic Women's League (CWL) never got in to see the prime minister - until this year.
On Monday May 15, a five-member delegation presented Prime Minister Stephen Harper with the 2005 CWL resolutions and brought forward some resolutions from previous years.
"He was very welcoming," said National President Agnes Bedard of Calgary. "We felt good about the whole thing."
"He sat there with his pen and his pad and said, 'How can I help you?'" said CWL executive director Kim Scammell who works out of CWL's Winnipeg head office.
Age of consent
In a meeting that quickly got down to business, the five women talked about raising the age of consent for sexual activity to 16 from 14.
"The prime minister calls it the age of protection," said Bedard.
The Conservatives have promised legislation to raise the age of protection to 16.
Groups like the CWL have long complained that Canada's low age of consent makes Canadian children a target for sex predators.
The group also brought up the rights of grandparents to have access to their grandchildren and
Harper told them he had personally worked on the issue in the past.
National resolutions chairperson Dr. Rayleen De Luca of Winnipeg said the delegation talked about children living in poverty and government resolutions to eradicate it by the year 2000. That date has long passed.
She said they also talked about human trafficking and Harper told them he shared their concerns about the sex slave trade and child pornography.
They also asked Harper why Canada had not ratified an international covenant on the death penalty, said national president-elect Lorette Noble, who comes from outside Montreal.
"We brought up assisted suicide and euthanasia," Noble said.
The CWL wants assisted suicide to remain a criminal offence.
Harper explained, she said, that it has become easier recently for private member's bills to become law because they don't have to go through the same long process as a government bill.
The prime minister told them he would keep an eye on any private member's assisted suicide bill and the government would not support one.
Other resolutions included a request for Canada Post to include nativity-related themes in future Christmas stamps; the protection of farmers' rights to save seed; a restoration of funding to MaterCare International for pregnant women in the developing world; and the creation of an appeal provision for refused refugee claimants promised in 2002 immigration legislation.
Harper told them Canada remains the most welcoming country to refugees in the world.
The CWL also brought up concerns about the access to safe, affordable water for people in the developing world; about the illegal manufacture and trafficking of crystal methamphetamine; and about toxic flame retardants in consumer products.
The delegation said they were able to go over all the resolutions with the prime minister as well as give him a history of their organization, something Harper welcomed.
The CWL, founded in 1920, is a non-partisan national organization rooted in Gospel values with more than 99,000 members across Canada and in the military. It is the largest women's organization in Canada.