Women who have gone missing along British Columbia's Highway 16 — also known as the Highway of Tears due to the number of unsolved murders and disappearances of women along the route — were "putting themselves at risk," former Conservative MP John Cummins says

"Many of those cases where people have been on the highway — northern British Columbia, Highway 16 — they've been picked up by God knows whom and their remains are found days later and there simply aren't any clues." Cummins told host Rick Cluff on CBC Radio's The Early Edition.

'That behaviour is dangerous'

"It's not simple and easy to solve these matters. But what is I think fairly clear is that, you know, quite often people are engaging in behaviour — hitchhiking on these lonely roads by themselves at night, that behaviour is dangerous," Cummins said.

Cummins was speaking as part of an election panel on the topic of why aboriginal issues were not a focus in the current election campaign. First Nations leaders and some communities along Highway 16 have expressed frustration that previous recommendations for a shuttle bus service, or other transportation plan have not been acted on.

Both the NDP and Liberals have committed to launching a national inquiry if elected, and Cummins was asked why the Conservatives appear reticent to study the issue of missing and murdered women — a subject Stephen Harper once stated "has been studied to death."

'Difficult circumstances'

"The rationale for Mr Harper's comments are that the RCMP and other police agencies, I think, have done the very best that they can under difficult circumstances to determine just what has happened to these missing women," Cummins said.

Cummins was asked directly whether he felt the women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered along Highway 16 were themselves at fault.

"What I'm saying is that if you engage in that risky behaviour — hitchhiking on a lonely road in the middle of the night — you're putting yourself at risk." he replied. "And that's a reality." 

Last Sunday was the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.


To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Aboriginal issues in election campaign with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.