FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The BC government moved quickly to add its voice to the widespread block of vocal support following the announcement this week of a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Although former Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected the idea claiming enough studies have been done, the launch of the new federal inquiry honours an election campaign commitment last year by Justin Trudeau’s victorious Liberals.
He has chosen Marion Buller-Bennett of Port Coquitlam, BC’s first female First Nation’s Judge, to chair the five member commission, and in congratulating her provincial Attorney-General and Justice Minister, Suzanne Anton said, “The BC government is pleased to confirm, support for, and intention to fully participate in, the national inquiry.”
However some inquiry advocates have concerns about its’ terms of reference and Fay Blaney with the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network is particularly troubled, that police conduct won’t be formally included.
Meantime, the official federal opposition Indigenous Affairs Critic promises to be watching to see whether the inquiry comes up with any new recommendations.
Cathy McLeod is the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP.
That’s a reference to the $53.8 million commission cost, which the Conservative critic notes could be focused more directly on programs and services.
Among the other probes into this issue was the 2010, ten million dollar Provincial Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, led by former BC Attorney-General Wally Oppal, who after submitting a 2012 report, also rejected the need for a national inquiry arguing his recommendations could be applied across the nation.
However, he has now altered his position, and while still recommending the inquiry not cover the ground he did, he also echoes the views of others, who say the national inquiry will take an expanded look at systemic and institutional barriers and also examine the role of the Indian Act.