Open letter to Yukon MP Ryan Leef:
Congratulations on your election as Yukon’s member of Parliament.
I am sure the first few days and weeks have been a swirl of activity as you get orientated to your new role and a sense of the full scope of the responsibilities that flow from being the member of Parliament for all Yukon.
As a (relatively) new member of the Yukon legislative assembly, I empathize with the learning curve that you are on. I wish you luck and look forward to working with you to advance issues that are important to the Yukon and her citizens.
I believe your personal connection to Yukon communities and your work experience at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre gives you a unique perspective from which to impress upon your caucus colleagues the vital importance of making sure that the “comprehensive law-and-order legislation” announced in the throne speech is carefully drafted so that, as the throne speech also vowed, “Government will continue to protect the most vulnerable in society.”
One very clear signal of your personal and political commitment to the goal of protecting the most vulnerable would be for you to advocate and garner support for the Canadian Bar Association’s Resolution (10-02 A): Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the Criminal Justice System.”
As someone familiar with the realities of the justice/corrections system you are well placed to educate fellow parliamentarians on the importance of this resolution, especially section (3) which calls on the federal government to “amend the criminal sentencing laws to accommodate the disability of those with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.”
As the proposed comprehensive law-and-order legislation moves through the system, I encourage you to work with the official Opposition as well as nongovernment organizations such as the CBA, policing organizations, and the many service organizations, such as the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon.
Changing the Criminal Code to recognize that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a disability is a first step in ensuring that individuals born with this disability are not caught up in a never-ending and ultimately inappropriate association with the criminal justice system.
I look forward to working with you and the many others who support the CBA Resolution on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the criminal justice system.
I would appreciate hearing your views on how we can best achieve the objectives set out by the CBA last year.
Liz Hanson, MLA, Whitehorse Centre
Leader, Yukon New Democrats