Debate on Rogers' Private Member's Motion to restore the Family Violence Intervention Court

On Wednesday, November 20, 2013 NDP Justice Critic Gerry Rogers introduced a Private Member's Motion which called on Government to reinstate the Family Violence Intervention Court.

The following text and video is the NDP's contribution to the debate; first Rogers' introduction and opening arguments, second Lorraine Michael's arguments, and finally Rogers' closing statements on the debate. For the complete transcript visit Hansard, and for the complete video visit the House of Assembly Broadcast Centre.

MR. SPEAKER: This being Private Members' Day, I call upon the Member for St. John's Centre to introduce the Motion that is on the Order Paper in her name.

The hon. the Member for St. John's Centre.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

WHEREAS the Family Violence Intervention Court provided a comprehensive approach to domestic violence in a court setting that fully understood and dealt with the complex issues of domestic violence; and

WHEREAS domestic violence continues to be one of the most serious issues facing our Province today; and

WHEREAS the cost of the impact of domestic violence is great both economically and in human suffering; and

WHEREAS the Family Violence Intervention Court was welcomed and endorsed by all aspects of the justice system including the police, the courts, prosecutors, defence counsel, Child, Youth and Family Services, as well as victims, offenders, communities agencies and women's groups; and

WHEREAS the recidivism rate for offenders going through the court was 10 per cent compared to 40 per cent for those who did not;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly urge government to consider reinstating the Family Violence Intervention Court.

Seconded by the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi.

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to stand today to speak to this private member's motion. I am speaking about a very specific, concrete program. A very specific, concrete program that is based on expertise, that is based on best practices, that is grounded in the culmination of extensive research and expertise. The Province itself took years of consultation, years of research to develop this court, to respond to a very specific group of people.

I am not talking about family violence in general but a very specific tool that was lauded by the community. Both justice and in the non-government organizations lauded it as a successful program. The Family Violence Intervention Court was a progressive initiative that finally understood and dealt with the very complex dynamics of domestic violence and abuse.

It was established in March of 2009 as a pilot project. After years of research and consultation with community, anti-violence groups, and the entire justice community, it was extended by government in 2011 as an initiative to keep families safe. It dealt with offenders, it dealt with victims.

For the purpose of this debate, Mr. Speaker, I will use he because, overwhelming, the offenders were male; overwhelming, in the partnerships, the victims were female. For the purpose of the debate, I may use he and she in those contexts, as well as children.

In 2011 and 2012, the Department of Justice had intended to make this a permanent program as part of their attempt to deal with family violence. It was very successful. Nova Scotia, as a matter of fact, modeled their Family Violence Intervention Court on the Family Violence Intervention Court of our Province, through our Department of Justice.

It was an active court that was concerned with early intervention – and that is key, Mr. Speaker; it was early intervention. It was concerned with treatments and prevention. It was doing what it was supposed to do, and that was early intervention while providing supports and protection for victims – most of whom were women and children – and treatment for offenders.

The specific thing about this program, Mr. Speaker, is that the offenders had to take responsibility for their crime. They had to acknowledge and take responsibility for their crime. They had to own it. It was cutting edge. It was interdisciplinary and collaborative. Defence lawyers, Crown attorneys, and Victim Services, who all have competing priorities, they were actually working together. This had never happened before in the history of our justice system.

It was five years of hard work; hard work that was paying off, Mr. Speaker. It was cross jurisdictional with all the team having specialized training and expertise. Not only was a team brought together, but the team was given training and they were experts in their field. The Department of Justice was committed to this program because they knew this program was based on evidence, it was based on research, and it was based on best practices.

There was a Victim Services team, there was a half-time position from Child, Youth and Family Services, and there was a bail supervisor. Again, Mr. Speaker, it was so important to keep in mind that these were experts in the field of domestic violence, because we finally had a court that had expertise in this area, in this very complex area.

There was a Crown attorney who was specifically assigned and trained for this particular court. There was a defence lawyer through Legal Aid who was specifically trained and pulled for this particular court. There was a risk assessor – and this was a key position because it was based on the assessments done by the risk assessor whether the offender was eligible to take part in the Family Violence Intervention Court.

There was a judge. A judge who was specifically dedicated, who had other duties, but one day every second week this judge sat over the Family Violence Intervention Court. This judge had a particular expertise and was able to exercise his role with that expertise and confidence.

There was also a court co-ordinator, and this was all about keeping women and children safe. Families who wanted to stay together and who relied on the Department of Justice to fulfill its promise to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that it was committed to giving the best possible service through Justice to victims of violence in our Province.

It was a court that was great for young couples, because many young couples came to the court. It found that women were more willing to press charges – because often one of the very difficult situations in family violence is that women would call the police, but then they would drop charges because it took so long for the case to get to court. What this court did was it responded immediately, which is so important in dealing with issues of domestic violence.

It found that the women were less likely to drop the charges because they knew that there was immediate action. They were more willing to press charges if they knew that their partner was going to get help and probably not go to jail.

There was an 85 per cent retention rate. Judges love this type of targeted and specialized court because it allowed them to focus on the main issues behind the crimes. This is not just about crime and punishment, it is about prevention, it is about treatment, it is about early intervention.

These Family Violence Intervention Courts are all across the country. They are the best practice to combat family violence. They are a concrete, effective program that is part of the continuum of services in the area of family violence. This court was driven from a victim's perspective, not just the individual victim but the entire family. It was ground-breaking work, social workers and facilitators working together. It had knowledge, information, and expertise.

The goal of the court, as stated in literature from the Department of Justice report, was to prevent and reduce incidents of family violence. "Through a collaborative approach, access to support services and intervention programs is accelerated. The FVIC focuses on enhancing victim safety as well as emphasizing offender accountability and treatment for moderate risk offenders."

The majority of the offenders and victims were people who are interested in staying in a relationship, but only because the risks were such that there was a possibility of treatment.

Here is how it worked. Upon an incident, the police would refer the offenders for their first appearance before the family violence intervention judge. That judge sat once every two weeks. The police were trained – and this took quite a while to encourage and train the police – to refer the offenders, for their first appearance, to the Family Violence Intervention Court.

They were allowed to go there as long as the potential sentence that the offender would get would legally be a community disposition. The offender had to agree to a risk assessment and the offender was offered a specialized Legal Aid lawyer. Then the date was set, at least within two weeks – because again, what was so important was that it was a very quick response, that within two weeks they would then go to the Family Violence Intervention Court.

In the meantime, they would meet with the risk assessor, they would meet with a specialized Legal Aid lawyer, they would agree on their statement of facts, and they would enter a plea of guilty. They had to enter a plea of guilty in order to be able to take part in this court because, again, the goal of the court was for the offender to take responsibility for his actions.

Then he had to participate in family violence programming, which was really intense work, where he had to acknowledge, among his peers, his behaviour and he had to take responsibility for it. He had to agree to have all of his information shared among the whole team that was working on his case. He had to agree to be supervised by the bail supervisor, and that was very important because the bail supervisor was intimately involved in the case. If there was an increasing risk to the victim or the family, the Victim Services person would alert the family.

Consequently, what we had was very close expert supervision on the offender in order to keep the family safe. There was no false hope here; this was expertise that was absolutely focused on the safety of the victims and the potential treatment of the offender.

The Family Violence Intervention Court would keep close track of progress and participation. Upon completion of treatment, only then would the judge take into account sentencing. What we have in the regular court system, Mr. Speaker, is that after the offence, it could take up to a year before the offender goes to court – up to a year. Someone may have hit someone, shoved someone, or threatened someone, and the victim has to wait for a year or perhaps even longer before the offender goes to court. Then the victim is taken to the stand and possibly torn apart and challenged. Who – who – goes through that type of court procedure? Of course, women will then drop the charges because they do not want it and it has been so long.

The research has shown, the research is absolutely solid, that intervention as close to the time of the crime is the most effective, and that is what this court was doing. This is not being done in any other program in the Province. Nowhere else in the area of treatment on the issue of family violence is this kind of work being done. The work that is being done in other programs is absolutely crucial; it is also expert and effective in their areas, but not in terms of what the Family Violence Intervention Court was doing.

So the benefits of those who qualified for this program were that offenders agreed to treatment, it kept people out of jail that could be kept out of jail, and then the offenders could continue to earn for their family. The benefits for the victim, the women and the children: the process was accelerated, they were not waiting one to two years to go to court, the bail supervisor was keeping close track of the offender, and the victim was informed and she could avail of counselling and programs for herself and her children. Victim Services responded quickly and thoroughly, which is exactly what needs to happen, Mr. Speaker.

The research that has been done in this area is over thirty years old. There are people who have become absolute experts in this area. The Family Violence Intervention Court is a culmination of that research, of that expertise, and of that commitment.

Also, because the offender had to plead guilty, the victim was not a year or so later forced to stand in the courtroom and be pulled apart by a defence lawyer. Mr. Speaker, there are so many aspects of this program, but the important thing is the immediacy, the expertise, the collaborative team approach to providing services for victims, keeping families safe, and keeping offenders in check. This is about victim safety and offender accountability.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to look forward to getting up and standing again, but I want to say that this court was supported by the women's community. It was supported by the judicial community.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member that her time has expired.

MS ROGERS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL:Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I am very happy, very pleased, to speak to the motion today. It would be wonderful if we did not have to have a motion like this on the floor of the House, but we all know what the situation is when it comes to violence in families and that most of the violence that happens is violence with intimate partners. As my colleague from St. John's Centre said, where the majority of those who are assaulted are women, I am going to refer to the assaults as assaults on women by men because that is the majority.

In Canada, one out of every four women suffers partner and sexual violence. In this Province, it is one out of three. So we are talking about one-third of women suffer family and sexual violence, and the majority of those suffer it in the intimacy of their home, with a partner.

Mr. Speaker, I have to say I am quite disturbed. Everything that the Premier has said was correct and everything that she said points to the fact that we should still have the Family Violence Intervention Court.

When I look at the fact that a choice was made to close a program that was designed to stop offenders from offending, how we could say that that is not as important as doing education at the other end of the spectrum, that the Premier and the minister spoke about – he spoke about it in Question Period today and the Premier has spoken about it here in debate. To say that it is not as important to stop re-offenders as it is to do education and prevention at the beginning, both of them deal with stopping violence. This program costs a measly $500,000. I say measly because we have a budget now of billions – a measly $500,000.

I want to speak to part of the resolution, the last WHEREAS, which is extremely important. "WHEREAS the recidivism rate for offenders going through the court was 10 percent compared to 40 percent for those who did not".

For those who may not fully get it, that means that the reoffenders, those who abuse, who reoffended after going through this program, only 10 per cent reoffended; whereas, offenders going through the normal court system, not the Family Violence Intervention Court, 40 per cent of them – 40 per cent – reoffend. How the government could look at this court and to look at that fact and to stand here today and rationalize that it was okay to close this court, I cannot believe it. Everything that was seen in the evaluation and the report that was done, this court was succeeding.

No, it had not eradicated violence. It had not stopped sexual violence. It had not stopped violence in the home yet, but for 90 per cent of the offenders who went through the program in its short life, they had not reoffended. So there was violence that was being stopped. The re-offenses were not happening at the same rate.

I cannot tell you how shocked I am by the Premier standing, saying what she said here today, and still justifying the closure. One of the things she said is: Would it be that women could get up, walk out the door, and that would be the end of it? It will not be the end of it. Well, that is what the Family Violence Intervention Court was about. It was about trying to put an end to it so that when the woman walked out the door, when she went to a safe place, and when she made sure that charges were laid against the offender, by going through the Family Violence Intervention Court, she had a 90 per cent chance of that person not reoffending.

How can we say that closing the court was justified? I am in shock. I was in shock at the time it happened. I am more in shock today, standing here and listening to what I just listened to. Everything the Premier said was right. I know it, too. I have worked with women all my life as well. We all know it. We all look around as we all know we have it in our own families, whether it was an aunt or maybe it was a grandmother. I doubt there is a family in this Province who cannot somewhere in its history find it.

We are mystified by it. We do not understand how it happens, but we know it happens. We can find it everywhere, yet we stand here today and try to justify the closure of a court and of a program that, to use the government's language here today, at the other end of the spectrum was also putting an end to violence for people who were in violence.

It is like saying in our health care system we have to do prevention – and we do have to do prevention, we have to make sure that we try to have healthier people, and we have to have preventive health measures; but if somebody goes to a doctor and the doctor says you have cancer, we are not going to treat it because we are concentrating on preventive health, well, we have a big problem there.

That is exactly what the government is saying. We have a serious problem. One in three women in this Province can expect to experience violence in their home, yet we are saying: Well, if it happens to you, too bad, try to take care of it. There are things there to help you. There are safe houses and there are programs, but our focus right now in on prevention. It cannot be one or the other.

The thing is that while violence happens in all walks of life – it is not confined to one group of people making a certain amount of money. As a matter of fact, a recent study tells us that the great majority of women in Canada, 70 per cent of the women who are victims of intimate partner violence are working women and women with university or college degrees. That is really interesting. One-third of all Canadians who reported having experienced sexual assault had household incomes of $100,000 or more.

This is not something that happens only to people at the lower end of the income scale. It happens to women who have education, who have college and university degrees, you have heard it; however, the Family Violence Intervention Court, in particular, I think, would have helped people who were at the end of the lower end of the economic scale, who do not have the resources to go out and get help.

This Family Violence Intervention Court was there for women who really could not see a way maybe for years and years and years. Imagine having this court and being able to point to it, being able to educate women to the fact that if you dare to speak out, if you can get the courage to walk out of the house, if you can get the courage to break away, there is this wonderful tool that is there to be used to help you so that you can have a sense of you will not be going through it again. That is what this tool was all about.

How can this government face the women of this Province and say: we are really trying, we are really educating, and we are really doing programs to show what violence is? We are really going to try to get people to start recognizing what violence is, but this tool, which would have given you some sense of security, this tool which could have helped you feel: well, if I do break loose maybe there is something that can make me feel I do not have to fear for my life for the rest of my life because of this person – because that is what it is about.

These women fear for their lives. They fear for the lives of their children. They are terrified. They need to know that if they speak out, if they try to break loose, there is going to be help there so that they can stop fearing the person who has been assaulting them. That is what the court was all about. That is why that rate is so important, and it is so important that it is there in the resolution.

I am going to repeat it again because it is so important. Ninety per cent of the men who went through the program up to the point that it ended did not reoffend. For men who went through the regular court system, it was 60 per cent who did not reoffend. In other words, 10 per cent recidivism rate opposed to 40 per cent – 40 per cent reoffenders for those who went through the regular system.

I do not know what to say to this government except do what is being asked. Put this program back in the system. Do what you have heard the women's community ask. They were shocked when this came out. Do what your own prosecutors have said. Do what lawyers have said. Put it back in.

For the sake of $500,000 a year, put the program back in so that it will strengthen what you are doing at the other end of your resource spectrum, as you call it. So that you are not making a choice between trying to stop it at one end and not helping at the other, when the women are actually in the violent situation. We have to do both. We cannot do one or the other. None of it makes sense to me. None of it makes sense.

It feels like total unreality standing here and hearing a Premier who could speak with all of the authority that she called upon herself today as a woman who has worked with women, and who knows how hard it is for them to get out of violent situations, say what she said. It is hard to leave, and it is not going to end. You are not going to walk out the door and it is all going to be over. That is what the Premier said. If she knows that, then why – as leader of that government and leader of the government in this House – isn't she showing the leadership and saying because she knows all that, the Family Violence Intervention Court should go back in?

I am so shocked by what has happened here today, I really am. I do not question the Premier's experience or anything like that. That is not what I am doing. I am saying, Premier, because you know all that, because you have had the experience that you have claimed here today, then in the name of every woman in this Province who has suffered violence or who has lost her life, put the Family Violence Intervention Court back in.

The Minister of Finance is there, I say it to him. The Minister of Justice is there, I say it to him. This is not acceptable; it is a blight on us. After our program came in, provinces actually followed us. Some already had one, others followed. It is recognized as an extremely important tool in the fight against violence.

I recognize everything that the government is doing, but this is a tool they should not have let go, just like they should not let go of the other tools either. Of everything that this government wanted to make cutbacks in the last Budget – there are others I disagree with too, but not with the passion that I disagree with about this one. This is not acceptable.

I ask the government be humble, admit you have made a mistake. You did it with other things. You did it with other things when you made cuts inside the Department of Justice. You rose up pretty fast when there was a voice of protest there over the cuts.

I think it has to happen with the Family Violence Intervention Court, too. Admit a mistake has been made. Put the court back into place so that women know that if they try to get out of the situation, if they enter into the justice system, if the person who has abused them is charged – well it goes through the system first before they even go into getting sentenced – that they have a sense of security they are being protected because they have come forward, that there is a tool there that is recognized as a very special tool. I plead with this government to be humble, admit the error, and put it back in.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's Centre, to close debate on her private member's motion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS ROGERS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I am very happy to stand to conclude this debate.

Mr. Speaker, we have raised awareness. We have raised awareness for over thirty years. Thirty-three years ago, I was part of a committee that started the first transition house in Newfoundland and Labrador. Thirty-two years ago, I started the first protocol as a social worker for the identification and treatment of battered women coming into the hospital and the Health Sciences Centre.

I have done films on violence against women. We have raised that awareness and we must continue to raise that awareness, but raising awareness is not enough. Raising dialogue is not enough. The Family Violence Intervention Court was a concrete tool that was successful, that successfully made it possible for families to stay together, if that was what they wanted, in a program that made it safe for them, that gave particular concrete treatment by experts, Mr. Speaker.

This program did not just come out of the air. This pilot program took years to develop and it was based on research and based on expertise. This government instituted that program. They brought that in. My motion specifically was talking about a concrete tool, just as there were concrete things that were readdressed in the Justice budget and then implemented again because of the cutbacks.

I believe probably what happened here is that the cutbacks were so hasty when they had to be made and the Family Violence Intervention Court – okay, this is $526,000; maybe we cut that because we have to cut. Who knows, Mr. Speaker? We cannot get a straight answer as to why it was cut.

It was successful. It was doing what it was supposed to do. The police liked it. The judiciary liked. The legal community liked it and the women's community. The co-ordinating committee on violence that the Premier was speaking about and the member for Stephenville was speaking about liked it. They supported it. Everybody wanted it to continue.

Why? Why was it cut? Nobody can give us a good reason. For the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune to stand up and say there were twenty-one people going through the court is absolutely ridiculous. We know there were over forty in the last year, and that was not just offenders; it was their family as well, the women and children as well.

This was an effective program. We all know that. Everybody in the women's community knows that. Everybody in the antiviolence community knows that. Every transition house worker in this Province knows that. We all know that, and there has been no good reason as to why it was cut. The budget was 0.2 per cent of the Justice budget – not 1 per cent, but 0.2 per cent of the budget.

The Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in its annual report of 2011-2012 when referring to the Family Violence Intervention Court said, "The goal of the Court is to prevent and reduce incidents of family violence. Through a collaborative approach, access to support services and intervention programs is accelerated." That is what it was meant to do; that is what it was doing.

It also said that the Family Violence Intervention Court "focuses on enhancing victim safety as well as emphasizing offender accountability and programming… The St. John's Provincial Court welcomes the opportunity to continue this important initiative."

Yes, Mr. Speaker, this court was based in St. John's. This is where it was piloted. We know the expertise and the success of this court could also be taken to other parts of the Province where we know it is needed, whether it be on a circuit, whether some of the experts who work with the court would be able to reach out, or whether there would be training of other Crown prosecutors and other legal aid lawyers to do similar things in other parts of the Province. There was no reason why that could not happen.

Mr. Speaker, how foolish to say, well it only serves St. John's and there are women across the Province who are experiencing violence, it was not serving a large enough population. Well then, let's make sure it does serve a larger population.

On October 25, 2013, the Minister of Justice – and I would have loved to have heard from the Minister of Justice today. I would have loved to have heard why he could justify closing the Family Violence Intervention Court. I was really looking forward to hearing from him today because maybe somebody could have given some kind of half reasonable reason for closing the court, when it was so successful and so supportive; when it was doing exactly what it was supposed to do.

It was initiated by this government to serve the women and children and the men of this Province, effectively with expertise, with absolute expertise, but the Minister of Justice said on October 25, 2013 on CBC Radio in regard to the closing of the Family Violence Intervention Court: The decision to cut was not based on any belief that the program was not effective for the individuals; and, yes, it was very successful for the people who went through the system, no question, and that we may want to revisit the Family Violence Intervention Court.

Mr. Speaker, I do hope this government wants to revisit the closure of that court. I do hope this Minister of Justice wants to revisit the closure of the court because we know the court worked and because we know it can offer services to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, not just in St. John's.

What a waste of government money after the years of research, the years of consultation, all the time, all the energy, to develop a court that was so responsive to the complex issue of family violence. What a waste of money to stop it when it was just getting its legs. Finally, police were referring people in more numbers, and it would have increased. We would have seen an increased usage. Every year we saw an increased usage. What a waste of money, of expertise, of time and energy to nip it like that for no good reason; 0.2 per cent of the entire Justice budget. What is that about? I cannot figure it out, Mr. Speaker. It makes no sense to me.

The alternative, offenders reoffend, someone gets killed. What would have happened for the 138 offenders who went through the court? If they had not gone through the Family Violence Intervention Court, where would they be today? Well, their court cases would have taken at least a year to a year and a half. It would have involved much more money for our Province because they would have had to have longer periods in court, because there are postponements, because they are pleading not guilty. These are people who plead guilty and did their treatment. They took responsibility.

The Member for Stephenville was saying it is very important that people change their behaviour, that they take responsibility for their behaviour, because that is the way behaviour changes. Well, this court was about offenders saying: I take responsibility for my behaviour, I acknowledge what I have done, I plead guilty, and I am willing to get help. That is what it was about.

The treatment was not namby-pamby sitting around and talking about feelings. It was very rigorous, hard work – again, based on years of research, on expertise. That is what we had, and that is what this government let go of. I do not understand.

I do not understand how they could have let go of such an effective program and to stand up and say how important prevention is. Well this is about prevention. It is about stopping reoffending. It is so clear, and I would love to see the internal review. I do not know why this government will not release the internal review. The evaluation was good; Victim Services and the bail supervisory did exit interviews with victims and offenders.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that justice be done, we all know that, and it is important that the government at this point do the right thing, and the right thing is to reinstate that court. I do not know why, I cannot also figure out why they would amend the motion we had before the House. Why would they want to water it down? I do not understand that.

This was about a clear, specific program, and we know this government has done very good initiatives in their violence prevention program. We know that, and we know awareness is important, but you cannot turn on a TV, you cannot turn on a radio, you cannot open a newspaper without hearing information about violence against women, and we know that. We know that, and that is a good thing, but that is not enough.

By doing that kind of awareness program we are promising women and children in this Province that we are going to help. Raising dialogue is not enough. We have raised the dialogue and we have to come back with absolute concrete programs that not only help but that also saves lives in some situations, and that make it possible for families to stay together in some situations. It is not just about raising dialogue.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is irresponsible for anybody to talk about twenty-one cases in the last year of the court. We know that is not true. We know there were more. Behind each number is not just an offender, there is a woman and her children as well. It is about families.

When the Budget came down last year the Premier said she was willing, or the Minister of Finance at the time said he was willing to listen to any compelling argument in the face of any cuts. I cannot think of any more compelling arguments than what we have heard today about the Family Violence Intervention Court.

It is clear the court worked. It is clear the court was effective. It is clear the court was responding to the needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and in particular to the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in the Province. It worked, 0.2 per cent of the Justice budget.

It is our responsibility – if we do raise dialogue, if we do raise awareness, we are giving people hope and we are saying that we are willing to back that up. That is not what happened with the cancellation of the Family Violence Intervention Court. It is a violation of trust. To have closed that court is a violation of trust. Women trusted this government and this Department of Justice to provide programming that would make it safe for them and perhaps their families could stay together.

That is the hope that this government raised in the hearts not only of the particular women, but also the hopes of the women's community, the people who work in anti-violence programs, the people who work in the co-ordinating committees against violence, the people who work in transition houses. That is what this government offered, and then they took it away.

We can continue to raise dialogue, we can continue to raise awareness, and that is important, but without the services to back that up, we are offering nothing. Many of us know that to be true. Many of us know that. We know how difficult this is and we had something that worked. It is my hope that in conjunction with the police, with the judiciary, with the justice community, with the women and men who work in antiviolence all over the Province, that this government will see fit to reinstate the Family Violence Intervention Court and to do the right thing.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have had the opportunity to speak to this. Again, it is a mystery to me as to why the government would want to water down this particular motion; it was about a very clear, concrete program. I thought that we could work on this together.

I look forward to this government doing the right thing by reinstating the Family Violence Intervention Court and honouring its promise and its commitment in the areas of violence, family violence, and honouring its commitment to the women and children and the men of this Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Associated Caucus Members: 

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