Ashley Burnham, Mrs. Universe, Urges Aboriginal People To Vote Out Harper

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The newly crowned Mrs. Universe has called for the defeat of the Harper government.

Ashley Burnham, who last weekend became the first Canadian and aboriginal woman to win the international pageant, took to Twitter Monday to urge Canada's First Nations to vote out the Conservatives this fall.

"We are in desperate need of a new PM. Fight for your rights," she wrote.

Burnham, 25, is from the Enoch Cree Nation west of Edmonton. An actress on the APTN show Blackstone, she is better known by her maiden name, Ashley Callingbull.

This year's contest in Minsk, Belarus was dedicated to the topic of combating domestic violence. Burnham has spoken publicly about enduring physical and sexual abuse from her stepfather as a girl.

On Monday, she told APTN's Brandi Morin that she wants the federal Tories defeated, in part, because of their approach to the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. She also accused the Harper government of having an adversarial and "controlling" attitude toward First Nations.

"Other countries need to know what's going on in ours. It feels like the government just does not care about us," she said.

Though she re-tweeted a number of supportive posts, Burnham also took to Facebook to respond to apparent criticism that she was being too political.

"Did you really think I was going to just sit there and look pretty? Definitely not," she wrote. "I have a title, a platform and a voice to make change and bring awareness to First Nations issues here in Canada."

Really? People think I'm too political for my first day as Mrs Universe. Did you really think I was going to just sit...

Posted by Ashley Callingbull on Monday, August 31, 2015

Both Harper and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair were asked Monday about Canada's 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women.

Mulcair, speaking in Saskatoon, reiterated that he would call a national inquiry into the crisis within 100 days of forming government. He blamed an underlying "attitude of racism" for the fact that an inquiry hasn't been called already.

"I say this to every mother, to every daughter, to every sister that it's time you had a prime minister who cares," he said.

The Conservative leader was asked in Ottawa about a report from CBC News that a promised RCMP database on missing persons, meant to help police solve such crimes, is long overdue.

Harper said Tories have taken a "range of measures" on the problem, including providing additional investigative tools for police and additional funding for protection services

He suggested that action, not another study, is what is required.

"What I notice about the other guys, what they always leave out, is actually taking any action against the perpetrators of violence," he said of Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who has also promised to call an inquiry if elected.

"And there is no way you can ignore the criminal element matter of this and expect to protect women and children."

With files from Rebecca Zamon, The Canadian Press

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