Of course it means that serial killer Robert Pickton will likely remain behind bars for the rest of his life. It also means that the families of the six women he is convicted of murdering will experience a measure of relief.
But what about the larger picture? Does the Pickton verdict provide any more safety for the thousands of Canadian women who virtually live on the streets in Vancouver and elsewhere?
The tragic fact is there are now more women in East side Vancouver living or working in the streets than when Robert Pickton cruised the neighborhood. They are easy victims of violence because their poverty has forced them onto the streets. In the past few years in Vancouver homelessness amongst women has increased by 60 per cent.
Since 2002, 16,000 women have been kicked off social assistance in British Columbia. Under provincial regulations a single mother who has been getting social assistance will lose that support when her child turns three. Social workers says that is why a lot of single mothers who can’t find work and can’t afford child care, end up turning tricks on the street.
Wouldn’t the Pickton trial have some real meaning if governments and social agencies used it as a spring board for dealing with the root causes of much violence against women – homelessness and poverty.
Some creative thinking is needed. Like the initiative right here in Montreal called Project Chance. It is a program whereby single mothers with children live in a shelter and go back to school to obtain a degree. Thus they acquire job skills and become productive citizens. Without Project Chance many of them might end up on the streets subject to the violence of predators like Robert Pickton.
Does the Pickton case have any meaning for you?
Is there any way to reduce violence against women forced onto the streets?
Should the Crown spend millions more of taxpayer dollars to try Pickton for the killing of 20 more women?