Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
As I prepared to talk today about Bill C-3, I could not help, like many of us I am sure, to think back to what we had experienced and learned over the course of our lives. I am firmly ensconced in white guy middle age, in old white guy zone.
However, I started out in public life as quite a young guy. I was 21 when I was first elected to Huntsville town council and the Muskoka regional council, and I did not know anything. I was fairly clueless and needed to learn an awful lot. Among the first things I learned about were the needs that existed in my community.
There is a perception of Muskoka as the playground of the rich and the famous and that everything is rainbows and sunshine. However, the reality in a place like Muskoka, and certainly the entire part of my riding, Parry Sound and Muskoka, is that the people who live and work in these communities year-round have a median income about 20% lower than the provincial average. There are struggles, there is a housing crisis and there are a lot of social problems, which I, as a kid, tended to think only existed in places like big cities.
I was in the home of a good friend of mine, Claude Doughty from Huntsville. He was the mayor at that time. He was a dentist in town and left his practice to become a developer, and he has built lots of wonderful things. His wife Kim Doughty is one of the most dynamic women I have ever known. They live in a beautiful home overlooking Fairy Lake, a gorgeous, absolutely stunning place. We were sipping on a Heineken and thinking about how this was all wonderful and we had great things going on in our town.
Claude's wife Kim came home and she was clearly upset. She had a difficult day. I knew she worked with Muskoka victim services. I asked her what had happened that day. She proceeded to tell me some of the most tragic and heart-wrenching stories I had ever heard. What struck me more than anything was that the situations she described, these traumas, these fears, these anxieties that existed, were literally blocks away from this home in the lap of luxury overlooking Fairy Lake.
Claude and I were both quite distraught by what we heard and decided we needed to do something, so we got to work. I immediately spoke with the executive director of Muskoka Women's Advocacy Group, which ran a shelter for women, called Interval House, in Bracebridge. We recognized that we needed to do more for north Muskoka and certainly into the Parry Sound area.
Claude, with his building expertise, donated a piece of land. We started a campaign that consumed the community. We were able to build a six-room shelter and 10-unit transitional housing facility for women escaping violence in their homes. As that project started, I came to know an awful lot more people in the social service industry and business in our area.
One of the other amazing people I met through the process of starting this was a woman by the name of Carolyn Bray. Carolyn was the executive director of the YWCA of Muskoka. People called it the Y without walls. It was not about gyms; it was about programs and supporting women and girls. I learned a lot from Carolyn about the issue of sexual violence and how, yes, they were most certainly victims. However, she recognized the importance of not just supporting women and girls, but helping little boys who may have grown up in a circumstance where they saw domestic violence, saw the way their father treated their mothers and because of their own lack of understanding, fears, anxieties and mental health, modelled the same behaviour when they became intimate partners.
Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person. Security means without care and without anxiety. Sadly, we know not all Canadians experience security.
Sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining, and 67% of Canadians know a woman who has experienced sexual violence. Roughly 6,000 women and children sleep in shelters on any given night in our country. Despite these numbers, only 5% of sexual assaults were reported to police in 2014.
We know it is because of the fear. We have heard people talk about how women are afraid to approach the justice system for fear of being revictimized or reliving the pain of the experience.
I have had the privilege of learning throughout my life and growing up into this role. As shocking as what I heard many years ago in the lovely home of Mr. Doughty, it is dismaying that we are still here talking about these things, that we have not solved these problems.
Bill C-3 is an important next step. It is really a minor next step. We have much more work to do. I am honoured that I have the opportunity to speak in favour of the bill. As a new member of Parliament. who oftentimes sees how dysfunctional this place can be and how it takes forever to get anything done, I am thrilled that everybody gets the importance of the bill, of supporting women and ensuring that all women feel the same security and liberty I feel.