Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau talks bullying

2013-09-25 20.25.20

“I am hoping that if you have a moment to read it, you will do so knowing that there are millions of kids out there just like me that and we really need people like you to stand up for us and I hope that when you are in Ottawa, you will do that for us,” Author Marianne Curtis told Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau when he accepted a signed copy of Finding Gloria.

September 25, 2013 – Lorette, Manitoba –  Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took a few minutes out of a busy campaign tour through the Riding of Provencher to talk about bullying with survivor and author Marianne Curtis. A survivor of bullying and child abuse, Curtis has become a vocal advocate by speaking on behalf of thousands of fellow survivors.

“When one is bullied to submission it is difficult to speak out for oneself, I have finally gotten to the point in my recovery that I am no longer feeling sorry for myself, but trying to change laws, and bring awareness that bullying is a real problem and we are not powerless to stop it,” stated Curtis. “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Justin Trudeau how his government intends to guide provinces into protecting children from all types of bullying.”

Curtis quizzed Trudeau on if his government plans on providing leadership or guidance to Canada’s provinces when it comes to drawing up legislation to regulate bullying. Just recently, the Province of Manitoba passed Bill 18, an amendment to the province’s The Public Schools Amendment Act (Safe and Inclusive Schools) Act. Over 300 people opposed the Bill on the grounds that it infringed on their religious freedoms, forced them to accept Gay/Straight Alliances but did little to actually address bullying.

“I just got back from campaigning Steven McNeil from Nova Scotia where he actually put in his platform for the first time in any major political platform a component addressing sexualized violence and actually taking it on seriously and the way he is doing it is by building partnerships with the extraordinary organizations that are already doing a lot of the work,” Trudeau stated. “I am a former teacher, I know how difficult it is to address something like bullying but the way to do it is to create a culture that makes it unacceptable; from the very top to the very bottom; starting at the federal level in our initiatives.”

“We need to be looking at criminal laws to make sure there are consequences, but also looking at working leadership with provinces to see that the framework within our elementary and secondary schools allows for gay straight alliances, or peer support groups or the kinds of supports needed to tackle this problem from every different angles. It’s something that doesn’t lend itself to an easy solution but I know that it is something that is suffering from a dearth of leadership at the federal level,” Trudeau concluded.

In the past year, there has been a number of bullying related suicides across Canada including Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons. Both girls took their lives after being bullied by their peers. Since then public outrage has escalated over the lack of appropriate laws to both protect the victim and prosecute the perpetrators. Individual provinces have begun creating their own bullying laws similar to Manitoba’s Bill 18, but they are all floundering through the process.

Marianne Curtis is a journalist with the Dawson Trail Dispatch, a monthly newspaper from southern Manitoba. She is also the bestselling author of Finding Gloria, a personal account of her journey of survival and healing after a childhood full of bullying and abuse.

Listen to the entire interview here! 

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