Bill C-311 - The violence against pregnant women act would amend the Criminal Code by adding two new aggravating circumstances to paragraph 718.2(a)

I am pleased to have laid my private member's bill, Bill C-311, before parliament, and I will now end this second hour of debate with my closing comments.
The violence against pregnant women act would amend the Criminal Code by adding two new aggravating circumstances to paragraph 718.2(a). In other words, when an individual is charged with causing injury or death to a pregnant woman and has gone through a trial in a court of law and been found guilty, the judge determining the sentence would have to consider evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a person who the offender knew to be pregnant, and/or evidence that the offence caused physical or emotional harm to a pregnant victim.
First and foremost, I stand here tonight in response to the families of victims who have done, and continue to do, so much in the midst of their grief in calling for these aggravating factors to be entrenched in our Criminal Code on behalf of pregnant victims of crime. There is Jeff Durham, who lost Cassie and Molly, and Sherry and Chan Goberdhan, who lost Arianna and Asaara. They are the voices representing so many more who lived through their experience, their grief and their call for greater justice.
It is my privilege to stand here advocating on behalf of those who no longer breathe or have a voice, on behalf of their families who have lost loved ones as their lives were taken in targeted violent crimes, and on behalf of those who face violence daily while living in fear of injury because they have made the choice to carry their pregnancy to term.
This evening, I am incredibly grateful for the endorsement of cultural groups whose work involves a heavy focus on the prevention of violence, namely: the Vedic Hindu Cultural Society, the United Sikhs Canada, the Overseas Friends of India Canada, the Greater Vancouver Bangladesh Cultural Association, the Baitul Mukarram Islamic Society, the Pakistani Canadian Cultural Association and the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario.
It has been an honour to spend time with each of these organizations and to receive their written support for the violence against pregnant women act. I thank them again.
I am thankful for the support of my Conservative colleagues from South Surrey—White Rock and Peterborough—Kawartha for contributing to the debate in this place, and I thank the member for Brantford—Brant, whose legal competence assured me that the claim that this bill could harm pregnant women was a fallacy.
A special thanks to the member for Calgary Nose Hill, whose Substack article on this very issue reached 57,000 positive reads overnight last night, as we weighed in together on this difficult issue. Those people are not the people the Liberals are claiming are putting this bill forward.

I have deep respect for my colleagues and our leader, who know that this clear, concise bill is about one thing: protecting vulnerable pregnant women from violent men. In my speech in the first hour of debate, I referenced the fact that 70% of Canadians and 73% of Canadian women want to see increased protection for pregnant women in our laws, and want to see a woman’s choice to carry her child to term have greater recognition and weight in our legal system. This is fact.
I extend my sincere thanks to the thousands of Canadians who have made their desires known through their letters, phone calls, opinion polls, Substack responses and very direct comments of disgust and disappointment on the Liberal social media campaign that misrepresents the intent of the violence against pregnant women act.
Since 2015, violent crime has increased by a third and gang killings have doubled across our nation. Intimate partner violence has steadily increased each year for the last seven years, and eight in 10 victims of that crime are women.
In the first hour of debate, I spoke of a call from a young woman who, while pregnant, feared for her life and the life of her child. With the challenges she is now facing, such as limited income when food prices are skyrocketing, an inability to work while wanting and needing to care for her newborn, waiting for a room in a shelter, finding a home she could afford, and having had her belongings, credit card and bank account stolen by her abusive and threatening husband, she is nothing short of a strong, determined and brave woman. This remarkable woman thanked me for bringing forward the violence against pregnant women act.
Colleagues, every measure we can implement to better care for pregnant women facing violence must be taken. The violence against pregnant women act is one of those measures. Everyone in this place, including lawyers, know this is true, and Canadians await our decision.