The Current

Ontario plans to end sexual violence by changing social values

Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne has unveiled a sweeping plan to combat sexual abuse. She tells us more about her goal to tackle the issue of mysogyny. And we also ask whether big government projects like hers, are ever effective at bringing about important social change.
"Many women in our province do not feel safe, that's the reality. And as a woman, as a mother, as a grandmother and as at the premier of the province, I have a problem with that." - Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (Paul Borkwood/CBC)

That's a message from the province of Ontario, part of a new campaign that was launched last Friday.

It's uncomfortable to watch, and even more so when the men look directly at the camera, catching your eyes... and thanking you, the viewer, for not saying anything about what you've just seen.

Now, that uncomfortable feeling is precisely the point. The campaign is titled, "It's Never Okay", and it's just one part of a larger project recently announced by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, to curb sexual violence against women.

Premier Wynne was in Toronto.

Ontario's new plan is taking on some deeply entrenched societal values, and trying to change them. And as noble as its goals may be, it's also worth asking whether government initiatives like these can really be effective, and change society's values.

We've brought together three people to today to take on that question for us.

Stephen Huddart is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation in Montreal.

Brenda Cossman is a professor of law and director of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto.

Rinaldo Walcott is director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, at The University of Toronto.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry.