Conservative candidate suggests a ‘lack of a job’ one reason for missing, murdered aboriginal women

A Conservative candidate in northern British Columbia said during an all-candidate debate that one of the reasons for missing and murdered aboriginal women is a lack of economic activity – “or simply put, a lack of a job.”

Bob Zimmer, the Conservative incumbent in the riding of Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, made the comment when asked whether an inquiry into the missing women was necessary.

“If I thought an inquiry would save one life, one life, I absolutely would do it. There’s already been 42 studies that have been done,” Zimmer said.

“One of the major drivers of missing and murdered aboriginal women is lack of economic activity, or simply put, a lack of a job.”

He continued:

“I think our perspective and we have tried to do things where we try to bring economic activity or jobs to reserve and different other legislation to see that through. And ultimate when people have a job, they’re not in despair, and they can stay on reserve, and that’s where we want them to be, we want them to be happy where they live, and go from there with their families.”

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Nearly 1,200 aboriginal women were murdered or went missing between 1980 and 2012. An RCMP study of the issue released in June found that female victims are most often victimized by men they know.

Similarly, a 2010 study found family violence made up a quarter of all victims of violent crime.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it is “way past the time for further study” Tuesday when asked whether a re-elected Conservative government would launch an inquiry.

“Our government position on this has been very clear; we have moved forward with a whole series of criminal justice reforms that deal with the problems of violence against people generally, violence against women in particular. There have been some 40 studies of this particular issue that we are moving forward with, a plan of action that deals with issues of prevention and investments in preventative services particularly on reserves, that deals with issues of inquiry, with investigation.”

Kathi Dickie, the NDP candidate at the meeting and the Chief of the Fort Nelson First Nation, said during the debate that the Conservative government’s refusal to launch an inquiry was “shameful,” claiming the 42 studies haven’t worked.

“We had almost 1,200 women murdered because they didn’t have a job? And if they would have stayed on the reserve?” she asked following Zimmer’s comments. “You know, 42 studies, obviously they have not worked. Women are still going missing today. They are still being murdered.”

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Liberal candidate Matt Shaw called the situation “a bloody national emergency.”

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