Mr. Chair, right now the status of women committee is studying the experience of indigenous women in the justice system and in jails. The stories we are hearing are 100% terrible. It is an even worse story than we had understood.
A particular theme that has come from a great number of the witnesses is that extra burden that was put on indigenous women when the previous Conservative government brought in mandatory minimum sentencing. It took away the discretion of judges. Say, for example, a woman is an accessory to a crime. Her car is used as the getaway vehicle and her boyfriend is charged. It used to be that the judge could say, “You can serve your time on the weekends and you can get your sister or your grandmother to look after the kids on the weekends when you're in jail.” That is all gone. That judicial discretion is gone because of what the Conservative government put in place.
Here is an example. Jonathan Rudin from Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto:
What happens then is that the person goes to jail, and if they don't have someone to look after their kids...they will lose their kids....Even if the person gets their children back, they will have been removed from their families.... [T]hat experience of being taken from your family and put into foster care...is incredibly damaging.
How could this be happening in this country at this time? We know how much damage generations of residential schools did to disrupt family parenting, and our judicial system is doing it right now. The Liberal government two years in has not kept its campaign promise to—