Posted by Jeff Durham | Posts


MP Cheryl Harcastle,

It has come to our attention (via your email response written to someone regarding Cassie and Molly’s law, that in turn was forwarded to us) that you will not be supporting Cassie and Molly’s law.

In this response you infer that MP Wagantall has tricked us by using our family’s tragedy as a means to, “reopen the debate on women’s reproductive rights — a debate that has been definitively resolved in Canada.”

What is particularly difficult in seeing this response is that, as I recall from when we met in person, you had no difficulty in acknowledging the injustice here.

Now you say that to legally protect what Cassie chose would be the undoing of the choice of all women? Do your really think a woman’s choice to have an abortion is no different than somebody committing homicide on her when she is pregnant?

How can you consider a woman’s right to choose protected in Canada when we personally delivered right to your desk the case of a woman – from your very constituency – where that choice has very clearly not been protected in any way?

Your letter stated that, “the NDP is focused on a holistic approach to ending violence against women, including both the protection of constitutional rights and violence prevention.”

Was it not Cassie’s constitutional right to carry our child safely to term?

How can anyone be committed to “ending violence against women” when they stand against a law that would acknowledge the simple reality such a crime poses to a woman in the first place?

I strongly suspect the word “holistic” is code for not doing anything about this very specific problem we have tried so desperately to get our government to acknowledge.

When Cassie’s mother and I met with you, Mr. Masse, and Ms. Ramsey at your office, you each assured us you saw the injustice here.  You told us that something can be done without affecting abortion rights – a law could be created to represent Cassie’s choice – our daughter Molly – in the criminal charges against her killer.

When we asked you to sign our petition you declined and stated that to have your names on it could complicate future proceedings of the creation of such a law. We believed you.

To regard such a profound offence only through the limited lens of a party’s politics is a betrayal to the very real experiences that these women – who were murdered – faced.

You were elected in our community to represent it and to be on the forefront of important lawmaking. You don’t have to agree with Cassie and Molly’s law specifically, but to have agreed that this is an injustice in private, and then to completely ignore it in your public response to others by offering shelters as a resolution? Do you really think it is the woman’s responsibility to see something like this coming? And what of justice when crimes against them do occur? How can it be ok to not hold criminals responsible for the reality it poses to their victims?

Here are some statistics that are readily available to anyone who concerns themselves with such things:

  • 1 in 6 pregnant women are abused during pregnancy (Middlesex-London Health Unit, 2000).
  • Women abused during pregnancy were four times as likely as other abused women to report having experienced very serious violence, including being beaten up, choked, threatened with a gun/knife or sexually assaulted. (Health Canada, 2004).
  • Of the women who were abused during pregnancy, approximately 18% reported that they had suffered a miscarriage or other internal injuries as a result of the abuse. (Health Canada, 2004.)

This is not just my problem that you can wish me luck with and be on your way.

Cassie wasn’t the victim of “domestic” violence. She was the victim of a brutal home invasion – one that left her and our daughter dead.

Why should putting the word “domestic” in front of the word “violence” detract from the severity with which our criminal law responds to such acts? Have you considered the possibility that it is this very attitude that lends to the consistent reoccurrences of these violent crimes against women?

If a woman’s reproductive rights matter to you, why should the choice of a woman like Cassie not matter too?

I know you have at your disposal the independent legal analysis that shows Cassie and Molly’s Law will have no effect on abortion rights. Was this factored in to your decision to not address these very specific occurrences where a woman’s choice does not actually belong to her?

It is one thing to disagree with a proposed solution. It is another to turn around and make belief the problem does not exist.

I am greatly disappointed that we had to find out your actual intentions in this manner when you know how desperately important this issue has been to us.


Jeff Durham

(Meeting with our NDP reps from February 12, 2016)

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