by Tamara Gorin
LINKS Project (British Columbia)
The Solicitor General of Canada
The Honorable Lawrence MacAulay, PC, MP
House of Commons
March 5th, 2001
Dear Honorable Member MacAulay:
These past weeks, Bonnie Mooney, of Prince George British Columbia, has been engaged in a civil suit against the Solicitor General of Canada, the Attorney General of British Columbia, and the RCMP.
I am currently participating as a researcher in a Department of Justice funded 5-year study of the barriers to justice faced by Canadian women. As a long time rape crisis worker, and now in my capacity as researcher, I am gravely concerned about not only the situation that Bonnie Mooney had to endure in 1996, but also the response of every level of the justice system in response for her insistence on accountability.
Far away from the courtroom, the average British Columbian woman is receiving reports in the media of the lawyer for the governments and RCMP blaming Ms. Mooney outright for lack of police response to her. We are hearing reports of RCMP refusal to act on Ms. Mooney’s behalf, refusal to apply the law, and how it took murder to make the police respond.
This unfortunately, is all too common a response to battered women. Within my own work, I currently work with at least 3 women who submitted complaints to various RCMP in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia for almost exactly the same behaviour as displayed by the Prince George RCMP towards Bonnie Mooney. This is not an anomaly. It is quite simply the reality for women trying to get a response from local police, both RCMP and Municipal, when they have experienced violence.
Too often, women must die before there is government and police action to rectify the situation, and proceed with charges. An entire family had to be murdered in Vernon, for lack of a simple statement and application of the Attorney General’s wife assault policy. This caused a public accountability process, which has resulted in the RCMP admitting wrong doing and building its own policy and procedures for violence against women in relationships cases. Yet, this month, the same governments that expressed outrage and promised changes, the same police force that had to admit it was not handling violence against women cases appropriately are now in court arguing that in a situation almost identical to that in Vernon, they have no responsibility.
The RCMP, Solicitor General of Canada and the Attorney General of BC are undermining every Canadian woman’s access to the justice system by defending themselves in this court case. Bonnie Mooney should not have to go through a difficult and expensive civil case in order to find the truth and get accountability. Women in this country should not be forced to sit through police justification for refusal to apply the law that is based in myths and stereotypes that all levels of government agreed years ago were unacceptable.
If the Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of British Columbia are truly serious in their frequent statements asking more women to come forward and report crimes against them to the police, and if the RCMP are also serious about their own very similar public statements, then there are obvious things to do. Ms. McLellan, you must insist that your colleagues at each level of policing and government withdraw from this case. You must insist they publicly apologize to Ms. Mooney. You must facilitate a settlement to the satisfaction of Ms. Mooney. And you must call for and implement a public enquiry process which will establish, a pan-Canadian policy about application of the law in violence against women cases, and a way for Canadian women to hold the police accountable when they refuse to do so. Anything less is a further betrayal of Canadian women. Anything else is a refusal to acknowledge that too many Canadian women are dying when they do not have to.
Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres
LINKS Project (British Columbia)
cc: Attorney General of Canada And Minister of Justice The Honorable Anne McLellan