Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 14, 2009
CWL brings resolutions to Parliament Hill
Catholic Women expressed concern over poverty, need for a national strategy for end-of-life-care
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - A Catholic Women's League (CWL) delegation came to Parliament Hill Nov. 30-Dec.2 to raise concerns about poverty, end-of-life care and unjust hate speech prosecutions.
"We got our point across," said CWL president Danielle McNeil-Hessian. "I think people were open to listening to us."
"We talked a lot about hospice and palliative care and the need to coordinate a national strategy," she said. While CWL members know health is a provincial jurisdiction, the federal government can play a leadership role.
In their first-ever meeting with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the delegation raised the issue of poverty, especially as it affects poor families.
RAISE MINIMUM WAGE
McNeil-Hessian said they spoke about whether raising the minimum wage might help.
On the minimum wage, Flaherty told them he was concerned doing so might put small businesses out of business. She noted that it was good to hear both sides of several issues they brought to the discussion.
Resolutions chairperson Barbara Dowding said Flaherty explained ways the government is trying to help poor families with tax relief that eases the transition for those leaving welfare and joining the workforce.
The delegation also met with Justice Minister Rob Nicholson concerning a resolution passed last August to seek the repeal of section 13 - the hate speech section - of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). The CWL maintains that this section permits a low burden of proof that can be damaging to persons or institutions that face unjustified complaints.
Nicholson told them he was waiting to hear from the parliamentary justice committee, which is examining section 13.
The delegation also met with the Canadian Human Rights Commission's secretary general Karen Mosher.
"All of them talked about the fact that there are two sides to this and that some religious groups would be against repealing it because they are the victims of hate messages," said Hessian.
The use of section 13 and similar provincial legislation to persecute Christian expression did not come up in the discussions.
McNeil-Hessian said the focus of their resolution was based on ensuring high legal standards as found in the Criminal Code for anybody who would be prosecuted for hate speech.
Mosher told them the CHRC has made recommendations that wouldn't repeal section 13, but would put a more stringent control on the handling of complaints, McNeil-Hessian said.
In addition to the hate speech resolution, the delegation brought a resolution to help people leaving prostitution; and a resolution to urge provincial and federal governments to provide support for foreign victims of human trafficking.
"It always amazes me the high admiration they have and comments that they made about how well our resolutions are presented," said president-elect Velma Harasen.
Harasen was impressed by the welcome they received and the number of cabinet ministers who met with them. "I think it speaks highly for the Catholic Women's League and we should be very proud that we're able to come year after year."
The delegation, which also included legislation chairperson Judy Lewis, also met with Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan; Status of Women Minister Helena Guergis; Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai; Liberal Senator Colin Kenny and seven MPs.
In recent previous trips to Parliament Hill, the CWL delegation has met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but Harper was in China.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.