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The Hon. Charlie  Watt, O.Q. Appointed to the Senate by the late former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Senator Charlie Watt represents the province of Quebec and the Senatorial Division of Inkerman.

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Budget 2011—Public Safety

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Statement made on 08 June 2011 by Senator Elizabeth Hubley

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley:

Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. When I read the budget I was delighted to see the government pledge to promote safer Aboriginal communities. Statistics show that the violent crime rate in Nunavut is nine times the national average. This is unacceptable.

Clearly we must take action to keep our northern communities safe, but the strategy proposed by the government in Monday's budget is a band-aid solution. The government is planning to spend millions of dollars to hire more police officers, prosecutors and judges in order to put more Aboriginal people behind bars. Meanwhile, it has cut funding for Aboriginal housing by 45 per cent. This is the wrong approach.

We know that overcrowding is a serious problem in Aboriginal communities. Not surprisingly, overcrowding has been linked to chronic stress, frustration, substance abuse and, ultimately, domestic violence.

Why is the government not taking a proactive approach to crime in Aboriginal communities by investing in preventative measures, such as building more housing, rather than simply sending more vulnerable people to jail?

Please click here to read the full text of the Senator's question

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