MP Cathay Wagantall introduced the private member’s Bill C-225 to protect unborn children in the womb, which was defeated by the House of Commons 209-76 on Oct. 19. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

Father vows to keep fighting after Molly and Cassie’s law defeated

By 
  • October 26, 2016

OTTAWA – Jeff Durham vows to keep fighting for changes in the law in the wake of the defeat of Cassie and Molly’s Law, a bill named after his murdered unborn daughter and her mother, Cassie Kaake.

Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall’s private member’s Bill C-225, which would have made it an additional criminal offense to injure or kill an unborn child while committing a crime against his or her mother, was defeated on second reading in the House of Commons on Oct. 19 by a 209-76 vote.

Despite tens of thousands of signatures and a poll showing nearly 70 per cent of Canadians would support such a bill, the vast majority of elected representatives chose to vote “against any conversation,” Durham said.

He pointed out the vote was not on a final bill, but on whether it would go to committee for further study. “It was voting on discussing the situation,” he said.

“They voted that this wasn’t a problem for them. They voted it shouldn’t be a woman’s choice, but it should be anybody’s choice to terminate a woman’s pregnancy.”

Cassie Kaake was seven months pregnant with Molly when they were murdered in Windsor, Ont., in December 2014. Matthew Brush of Lasalle, Ont., has been charged with Cassie’s murder and has undergone a preliminary hearing, but no additional charges were laid for Molly’s death.

“We feel that the whole point has been missed,” said Durham, who has been driving his campaign for the bill through MollyMatters.org. “The whole point for us was protecting a woman’s choice. Her choice to have an abortion is already protected. Nobody wants to protect her choice when she chooses to take her child to term.”

Meanwhile, Durham and all the people who loved Cassie and eagerly awaited Molly’s birth, continue to await the outcome of the murder case, which has yet to go to trial.

“It’s all been difficult,” he said. “The fact is, whatever the possible outcomes, with what is in place now, he will not be held accountable for the reality of the crime.

“Two lives ended. Two of our family members were brutally slain.”

Though Durham is not sure what he will do next, he said his campaign for justice will continue. He expressed gratitude for the level of support MollyMatters.org has received across Canada.

“We will keep on going even if nobody supported us,” he said. It is a matter of justice because the way the criminal justice system presently treats families like his and the many others who lose mothers and unborn children through violence creates a “massive indignity to the victims.”

“For us, it feels like we’re being re-victimized,” he said.

“In Canada, there is no component in the Criminal Code to protect pregnant women from violence. This gap is leaving women vulnerable,” Wagantall told the House of Commons Oct. 17 during the bill’s second and final hour of debate.

Wagantall said a number of groups such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime endorse her bill.

She rejected claims by opponents of the bill that it could affect a woman’s access to abortion services.

“Because this bill would only affect existing crimes, and abortion is not criminal, Cassie and Molly’s law would have no impact on abortion services,” she stressed.

“This vote tells us that our Members of Parliament are unwilling to take a small step in increasing consequences for violence against women in Canada,” said WeNeedaLaw.ca director Mike Schouten. “They continue to ignore cries for justice and instead allow fear of the abortion discussion to colour their decisions regarding women’s health and safety.

“Medical teams will fight to save premature babies, yet our criminal justice system will not take a stand against violence targeting pregnant women. This devalues the choice of the hundreds of thousands of women each year who desire to carry their child safely to term.”

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