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From Emma's notebook

Hi, <<First Name>>.  Earlier this week, Discourse Media published my investigation into government funding of British Columbia's anti-violence sector. I discovered that B.C. forces some women to wait up to two years to access counselling after being raped or experiencing other trauma from gender-based violence. I also found that those who work to support people fleeing violence are doing their jobs with inadequate pay and support.

Reporting on this crisis has been truly eye-opening. The resilience of front-line counsellors, advocates and activists has been inspiring — but it’s also left me wanting to know: How are B.C.’s political candidates planning to respond to this failure by our current government?

As the provincial election quickly approaches, my colleagues and I are asking this question. We’re also fact-checking the Liberals on their claims, and combing through NDP, Green Party and Liberal platforms. We’re assessing their commitments to gender issues, including how they plan to address violence against women.

It can be hard to definitively measure how successful political parties are in fulfilling their promises. So, to help me navigate the grey areas, I interviewed Vicky Law, a self-described “feminist lawyer” and founder of Equitas Law Group in Vancouver.

What are B.C.'s political candidates promising? 

Law doesn’t see enough commitment to ending gender-based violence on any of the three platforms. “For women to wait to get counselling, to wait for protection or safety, is inexcusable in my mind,” she tells me. “Women who don’t have money, but are refused legal aid, is inexcusable in my mind.”

What have the Liberals accomplished?

Law is candid in her assessment of B.C.'s ruling party. "To be perfectly honest and frank, I don’t think [the Liberal government] has changed anything for women leaving violence,” she says.

There [are] little bits and pieces, here, like the [amended] residential tenancy act,” she adds. “But overall, in the bigger picture, there can be more effective ways to make changes for women. The ones that they have listed, or the ones that they’ve promised to do, do not achieve that.”

How can we hold politicians accountable?

Law suggests asking MLAs what “they think their party should do, or could do, to end violence against women,” and then monitor them closely to see if they honour their commitments.

She also encourages citizens to push politicians to be more honest about acknowledging the complicated, systemic problems at the heart of gender-based violence. “I think — and it’s across all political parties — that there is a lack of acknowledgement,” Law says. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to acknowledge the impacts of colonization, or to acknowledge the patriarchy that exists in society.”

Let's keep talking

I'll continue to bring you news and resources on gender issues until the B.C. election on May 9. After that, I’ll be tracking political action, and holding leaders accountable to their promises.

Do you have a thought or concern to add? An angle I missed? An experience to share? Head over to my new Facebook page, and let me know. If you have suggestions for how media can do a better job reporting on gender and identity issues, take a few moments to fill out this short survey. I’d also appreciate if you could forward this newsletter to anyone who’d be interested, and encourage them to subscribe.

Thanks, as always, for your questions, your ideas and your stories.

 Talk soon,
Emma

Snapshot

Vicky Law, 30, is a self-described “feminist lawyer” and founder of Equitas Law Group in Vancouver. “To be honest, I don’t see enough of a commitment [from the B.C. government] to end violence, or to address the issues that are directly affecting women who live in violence," she told me. (Submitted by: Vicky Law)

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