Toronto MP Olivia Chow Urges Continued Progress on White Ribbon Campaign

December 3, 2011, 3:00 PM EST

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NDP MP Olivia Chow urged delegates to continue their efforts to end male violence against women by not only raising it on the shop floor and in their communities, but also by taking the fight into electoral politics.

"The quest must continue - we must continue it in the political sphere," Chow said during a ceremony honoring her late husband Jack Layton's key role in establishing and building the global White Ribbon Campaign on December 3.

Layton helped launch the campaign as a way to raise awareness and to change male attitudes after a male gunman fatally shot 14 young women at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal 23 years ago on December 6.

Chow recalled how Jack started the campaign in his son Mike's bedroom in their Toronto home and how it was eventually built into a world-wide awareness effort that now reaches into more than 60 countries world wide.   

After the massacre there was widespread shock and anger and then mourning and concern, but Chow said Jack was determined to create a movement that resulted in action and concrete results.

A key concept was to use White Ribbons as a visible symbol, which led to dialogue and awareness among other males especially and ultimately to taking responsibility. She said there was such a feeling of despair after the shootings and the White Ribbon Campaign helped provide a way to move ahead.

The White Ribbon Campaign tackled the issue from two key angles: by empowering women, and also by asking men to recognize their responsibilities in ending male violence against women.

She blasted the Harper government in Ottawa for rolling back so many social and human rights programs of which the Tories' relentless efforts to end the long-gun registry is of  particular concern. 

Chow stressed the need for a national child care program, affordable housing programs, quality public education, the entrenchment of pay equity and many other progressive programs.

She thanked the CAW for its long-standing commitment to the White Ribbon Campaign and for taking concrete steps and practical approaches to ending male violence against women over many years.

CAW President Ken Lewenza slammed the Harper Conservatives for working to eliminate the long run registry and for pledging to destroy all the data from the gun registry so that no future government could reinstate it. Lewenza gave an emotional thanks to Chow and to Mike Layton, Jack's son and a Toronto City councilor, who also spoke to delegates.

"This is such a fantastic and fitting tribute to Jack's legacy," Mike Layton said, who also urged continuing efforts to end male violence against women and children.

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