As many of you know, last week the Québec political scene was turned upside down by revelations that a Liberal member of the National Assembly, Gerry Sklavounos, has been accused of sexually assaulting a young woman.
Although the accusations have yet to be proven in court, this case, is a clear demonstration of the toxic culture that unfortunately still exists within the big three Québec political parties and within many of our government institutions. As a result, women are still vastly underrepresented in all levels of elected office.
To make matters worse, the very same week that the allegations against Gerry Sklavounos were made public, the provincial police force, the SQ, announced that they were suing the CBC for reporting allegations that police officers sexually abused indigenous women in northern Québec.
In the immediate aftermath of the CBC report, public safety minister Lise Theriault was removed from her cabinet position after shedding tears during a press conference in which she was obliged to defend the officers accused of sexual assault. Ms. Thériault is now the minister of the status of women and has been forced to defend her party’s toxic internal culture.
Although the case of Gerry Sklavounos is shocking, it speaks to a larger problem within Québec and Canadian society. The time has come for the government of Québec to make deep and substantial changes to its sexual assault and harassment laws and policies.
Public awareness of the impacts of these crimes, strengthening sexual assault and harassment laws, sexual education and consent training in schools, CEGEPs and universities, increasing training for crown prosecutors and police, as well as increased funding for women’s groups and zero tolerance policies are all positive steps forward that would lead to concrete progress on these issues.
These are some of the reasons I will be marching in the streets against rape culture with thousands of people from across the province this evening.
Leader of the Green Party of Québec