Clare's Law was introduced Monday and will name Manitoba the first jurisdiction in the world with public or community-based support to highlight the safety of the people.
"Manitoba has some of the highest rates of intimate partner violence in Canada," says Families Ministers Rochelle Squires in a press release. "The purpose of Clare's Law is to provide Manitobans with access to information on whether their partner has a documented history of violence, as well as access to public and community-based supports to promote safety and end the cycle of violence."
Squires also notes that it is women and girls, more so those living in rural, remote and northern communities, Indigenous people, people of colour and those who identify as part of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community who are affected by these acts of violence.
The name "Clare's Law" comes from the story of a British woman, named Clare Wood, who was murdered by her partner back in 2009. Wood's family did not want others to experience what they were going through and fought for the enactment of a disclosure protocol, which would allow people to view their partner's documented history of violence from police. Allowing them to leave the relationship safely if there are risks of violence.
"The Canadian Centre for Child Protection welcomes the introduction of Clare's Law in Manitoba," says Signy Arnason, associate executive director for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. "We believe that this important and innovative law will make a tangible difference for the safety of Manitobans. We are pleased that community-based supports will be woven into the process and that sexual violence will be in scope. It is critically important for parents to be able to obtain essential information to help protect their child and this legislation will do just that."
In Manitoba, the law would include not only domestic violence but also family violence and sexual violence.
"This means a mom who may be concerned about her safety or is concerned bout behaviour from her intimate partner towards her minor children would be eligible to complete an application," says Squires.
Bill 43 has been in progress and under revision by the Manitoba Status of Women Secretariat and Manitoba Justice. They have included teams from the police department, local organizations and provincial departments to assist them in Manitoba's approach to Clare's Law.
The team has also been in contact with international researchers on Clare's Law to target any gaps, risks, and challenges that other jurisdictions around the world have experienced.
"On behalf of the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police, I support the implementation of a disclosure protocol in the spirit of Clare's Law and the design team's ongoing work that would enable Manitoba residents to access information about their intimate partner's documented history of violence," says Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth, and President of Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police.
Privacy is still a priority for those whose information is being disclosed and the design team continues to work with privacy experts.
The minister acknowledged that the bill will come into effect upon proclamation within the next 18 months for the remaining details to be finalized.