After rejecting a Conservative motion to protect pregnant women from violence, the Liberal-NDP coalition has stopped to new lows.
On June 14, Bill C-311, the Violence Against Pregnant Women Act, failed the Second Reading in the House of Commons in a 205-113 vote. The entire Liberal and NDP caucus voted against the bill, as did the Bloc Québécois, Green Party, and Independent MPs.
Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall denounced each party for defeating her private members' bill, claiming they "voted to enable attackers."
"By voting against this bill, the coalition has silenced the voices of vulnerable women who face violence when pregnant. They have also silenced the 70% of Canadians and 73% of Canadian women who want to see increased protection for pregnant women in our laws," she said.
Bill C-311 aimed to stiffen penalties for abuse endured by pregnant women causing physical or emotional harm. Violent offenders would have received harsher sentences for assaulting a pregnant woman if passed.
However, the Liberals and NDP contends the bill attacks abortion rights and voiced their concerns over the motion.
"Bill C-311 proposed by the conservatives is yet another in a series of transparent attempts to give a legal status to a fetus here in Canada," said Liberal MP Rachel Bendayan.
Her colleague Jenna Sudds claimed the bill "is a means to an end, which is to criminalize pregnant people experiencing miscarriages and eventually criminalizing abortions."
NDP MP Heather McPherson added the bill is "dangerous to women in Canada, and it is dangerous to women around the world."
During a debate on June 13, Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen gave the middle finger to Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay.
"Shamefully, the Liberals and NDP have voted to enable attackers to continue to murder, maim, and assault a woman in her most vulnerable state without tougher consequences," said Wagantall.
In recent years over 80 pregnant women in Canada have been killed, including Rori Hache, 18 — killed by a man who repeatedly hit her in the head with a blunt object. Cassandra Kaake, 31, died after a man strangled her, slit her throat, and set her house on fire.
According to Statistics Canada, women disproportionately experience the most severe forms of Intimate partner violence (IPV), such as being choked, assaulted or threatened with a weapon, or sexually assaulted.
Overall, 44% of women in Canada who had ever been in an intimate partner relationship — or about 6.2 million women 15 years of age and older — reported experiencing some psychological, physical, or sexual violence in the context of an intimate relationship in their lifetime.
The Conservative MP said Parliament appears unwilling to address violent crime in Canada by Bill C-311. IPV has steadily increased over the past years, with women making up most victims.
"To all of these Canadians, I want you to know that your work is not in vain. The majority of Canadians are on the side with the protections C-311 would have provided," added Wagantall.
"The day will come when Canadian law recognizes this gap in the Criminal Code and ensures that those who violently attack pregnant women receive serious jail time. One day, the sentences for these criminals will match the crime," she said.
In March, the Conservative MP said her bill "has nothing to do with abortion" but increases penalties for those who brutally murder or assault pregnant women.
"We need to ensure that criminals who attack or kill a pregnant woman can be sentenced appropriately by our courts. The sentence should match the crime," she said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the bill as "another thinly veiled attempt by the Conservative Party of Canada to restrict a woman's right to choose."
Bill C-311 is the third attempt by Conservatives to introduce more robust protections for pregnant women through private members' bills in recent years.