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Women’s advocates slam Karen Vecchio’s ouster from federal committee

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Advocates are crying foul after a London-area MP was shuffled out of her longtime post as chair of parliament’s status of women committee.

Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio was moved out of her role as the chair of the standing committee last week, a position she has held since 2017, after her term ended and the Conservatives on the committee voted to replace her with another MP.

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Local women’s advocates and a former municipal politician took to X to slam Vecchio’s unceremonious ouster from the committee.

“I add my name to the growing number of people upset that Pierre Poilievre has removed Karen Vecchio from her role as the chair of the status of women committee,” London police service board member Megan Walker, a former executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, wrote.

“Karen is a hard-working MP who has worked relentlessly on issues facing women and Canadians.”

A request for comment to Vecchio’s office was unreturned Monday.

Former Thames Centre councillor Kelly Elliott said on X that Vecchio’s departure from the committee was a “huge blow” and that, though she and Vecchio disagreed on some issues “one thing no one can ever debate about her is her passion on this committee,” she wrote.

In a post on X, London Abused Women’s Centre executive director Jennifer Dunn said Vecchio’s departure from the committee is a huge loss and thanked the Conservative MP for her “unwavering support” to the women’s organization.

Hastings-Lennox and Addington Conservative MP Shelby Kramp-Neuman, who was elected in 2021, is succeeding Vecchio in the committee chairperson role.

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The 11-person standing committee, which was created in 2004, has five Liberal MPs, four Conservative MPs, and one each from the New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois. During the years, it has studied murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, safety in sports, intimate partner violence and access to menstrual products.

Liberal MPs on the committee abstained from the latest vote for the chair.

Lisa Hepfner, a member of the status of women committee, said she was “devastated” by the change. “It feels like (Vecchio) was thrown under the bus.

“She’s worked so hard for so many years, worked with her whole heart and we have been able to accomplish great things at this committee. I really hope we can continue being collaborative,” Hepfner said.

In an emailed statement Monday, Conservative spokesperson Sebastian Skamski said changes to committee assignments are not an irregular occurrence and praised Kramp-Neuman as a “proud female common-sense Conservative” who will “champion the issues facing Canadian women who have suffered after nine years of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal-NDP costly coalition.”

Vecchio, who was first elected in 2015, first joined the committee as a member in January 2016. She has previously served as the deputy house leader in the Conservative caucus.

The three-term MP was among the handful of MPs who backed former Quebec premier Jean Charest in the 2022 Conservative leadership contest. Poilievre won in a whopping first-ballot victory.

– with files by the Canadian Press

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