While news of the weekend was focussed largely on some burglaries, moose accidents, and a house fire, an infuriated discussion of Thursday’s tiff in the House of Assembly coursed through Facebook and Twitter.
The story starts back in March of 2013, when justice minister Darin King announced that family violence intervention court was being eliminated, seemingly as a cost-saving measure. MHA Gerry Rogers immediately raised concerns that the termination of family intervention court could make matters even worse for families in St. John’s affected by domestic violence.
It’s a cause Rogers has continued to address to date. She said the program was “de-funded despite widespread support from … judges, prosecutors, police, defense attorneys, social workers, Child Youth Family Services, victims and offenders.”
Rogers was vocal about how the court was “working at its full capacity and really making a tangible difference in the lives of the people who used it. It fulfilled its mandate of using early intervention and treatment to reduce both violence and recidivism.”
When she asked to see the internal review of the court that was done before the Justice Department shut it down, she was told it was a cabinet secret. “Nobody, including the minister of Justice, has been able to give me a good reason for why it was shut down.”
In March of 2014, there was a demonstration at Confederation Building, demanding government reinstate the family violence intervention court. It was around this time that Rogers also questioned why “neither the former nor the current Minister Responsible for the Status of Women said a peep in defense of the Family Violence Intervention Court, even though women’s groups and anti-violence groups have begged government to reinstate the court. The Women’s Policy Office is who government turns to for direction on policy and program decisions affecting women. Their primary focus is violence prevention and addressing the needs of women who are victims of violence”
Rogers merely asks that the premier meet with representatives of the groups who want the FVIC reinstated. She would also like to know whether the Justice Minister has evaluated increased court costs since the innovative FVIC was cut.
This Thursday, she raised the matter again in the House of Assembly. She asked premier Tom Marshall to make an act to reinstall the family violence intervention program, which local law enforcement agrees is a great idea that should be implemented provincewide.
All reports indicate that boyish, insensitive laughter and scoffs followed.
Marshall was quick to react to critique. He told The Telegram last Thursday night that it’s unfortunate how proper “decorum” can go out the window during proceedings in the House of Assembly. “We all must strive to do better in this respect … however, this lapse in decorum should not be equated with disregard for the importance of an issue. All members care about preventing and dealing with violence in our society.”
The problem here is substituting the word “decorum” for common decency. Arguably, a decent person doesn’t have to mind their decorum, because a decent person not have to reel himself or herself in to put on airs of decency and civility.
Allegedly, Marshall’s problem with Rogers’ sentiment was that the program she was looking to revive only benefits those in St. John’s, and he insinuated that she “doesn’t care” about people in other parts of the province (quite a grand statement).
In addition to its lack of a provincial reach , government says the pilot project is reportedly demonstrating a decline in numbers as well. The province says it has implemented similar programs across the province, to combat domestic violence, that will see an RNC-RCMP joint force working towards the prevention of domestic violence for high-risk families.
Rogers continues to contend that the unique family violence intervention court we had here in St. John’s was working very well. The program involved having a bail supervisor keep tabs on offenders, and provided victim counselling.