A federal NDP motion calling for a national action plan to address violence against women was voted down last week by the majority Conservative caucus — with one notable exception.
Yukon MP Ryan Leef was the lone Conservative to vote in support of the motion, which included a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
"Fundamentally, because the Yukon's position, I think, was loud and clear on it," said Leef, explaining his decision to vote in support to the CBC. "Yukoners were, I think, rather unanimous in their call in support for it. Part of that was indicated by the territorial legislature's support calling for that motion.
"And I had made a clear commitment to the people of the Yukon that if the motion came before the house that I would stand up and support that, and that's exactly what I did."
The private members motion was introduced by aboriginal affairs critic Niki Ashton, who said she was "surprised" by Leef's support.
"I certainly didn't have any indication of the support from Mr. Leef, but I certainly appreciated his support," said Ashton, who added that she thanked Leef following the motion. "I only wish that his colleagues would have followed suit."
Ashton said she is pleased that Leef saw fit to support the vote, but that it was a very lonely single vote, and that "if we're going to go forward in a spirit of reconciliation, we need to see the federal government step up in a big way, and that includes calling a national inquiry."
The lobby in the Yukon is strong on the issue of violence against aboriginal women, said Ashton, and Leef has clearly hear the intensity of voices in the territory.
Leef agreed, saying that although he did inform his caucus of his intentions, that he was elected to be a strong voice for Yukon in parliament.
"When it boils down to it, I made a commitment in 2011... that when tough questions got asked, and leadership was required, that's what I would demonstrate," said Leef. "And I would exercise Yukon's voice in Ottawa, and not the other way around.
"So it was important for me to uphold that promise that I had made, and on a very important issue to the Yukon."