In the wake of the news that two Concordia University students were lured off campus, drugged and then sexually assaulted, the National Assembly began work Thursday on a new bill to address the issue of preventing sexual assault on Quebec campuses.
“I don’t see this bill as being partisan, I see it as societal progress,” Minister Hélène David said during her opening remarks at the beginning of the public hearings Thursday morning.
With sexual violence constantly in the news, including the Harvey Weinstein scandal and similar allegations in Quebec against TV personality, Eric Salvail and Just for Laughs president Gilbert Rozon, the higher education minister and newly named status of women minister has found unlikely allies across the aisle.
“She (David) seems to want to do something,” said Quebec Solidaire MNA, Manon Massé.
If passed, Bill 151 would require post-secondary institutions to have formal complaint procedures, safety measures for social activities, and victim support services, what MNAs describe as real, concrete measures.
“I’m extremely happy to finally be talking about a legislative framework,” said PQ MNA Catherine Fournier.
“The women in all the parties, I think we really want to work together you know, to break something,” Massé said.
She added that Bill 151 should just be the beginning.
“I’m suggesting six measures to be able to go faster,” she said.
In her own action plan, she wants psychologists, social workers and rights advocates to be present when victims make police complaints. She’s also pushing for mandatory sexual education starting in elementary school.
Students appearing before the hearings have their own ideas: free rape kits available on campuses, clearer rules around employee-student relationships and more money for prevention.