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Against the backdrop of continued outrage over the deaths of Indigenous children at residential schools, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday disclosed the federal response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“We are meeting today in a very difficult week,” Mr. Trudeau said. “In recent days, we have been forced to recall the horrors of the residential schools.”
The Liberal government, which established the national inquiry in 2016 to examine disproportionate impacts on the Indigenous community of violence, initially said it would respond with an action plan within a year. It said last year the timeline would be delayed because of the pandemic.
Mr. Trudeau offered a federal response of $2.2-billion in spending starting this year as part of the $18-billion in funding announced in the budget to improve the lives of Indigenous people.
“Our pathway is a holistic approach to ending this national tragedy,” Mr. Trudeau said. “This is a necessary plan, essential. This is a plan that will evolve across time and adapt to the specific needs of communities. In other words, the work doesn’t stop here.”
Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said, in response to Mr. Trudeau, that the funding commitment is “progress” but there is a need for more work to support communities in ending violence. “First Nations families and survivors must be central to the implementation process, the accountability process.”
THE KAMLOOPS RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL’S UNMARKED GRAVES
CONTINUED REACTION - Facing a national outpouring of grief and anger over the long-ignored deaths of Indigenous children at residential schools, the federal government said it will distribute $27-milllion to help communities locate and identify those lost. During the same announcement, government ministers asked Roman Catholics to demand a papal apology for the church’s role in the schools and release all records on those it operated.
Jody Wilson-Raybould (Contributing to The Globe and Mail) on how the Kamloops residential school’s unmarked graves serve as painful reminder of why we need leadership: “From my vantage point we are clearly in need of a revitalization of true leadership in this country, and with it a rejuvenation of good governance. On Indigenous issues, on federalism, on the rule of law, on racial justice, and on so many other fundamental issues, principle must guide us more than partisanship. More than votes. Honouring the children means acting. Canadians know this now more than they have before – and we can do what is needed. The question is: Will our leaders lead? Will our leaders honour the children?”
FREELAND TO LONDON - Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will travel to London this week to attend G7 meetings in person, where she says an international deal on global taxation is within reach.
LIBERALS OUTVOTED - Opposition MPs outvoted the Liberal minority government on Wednesday in an attempt to obtain details on why two federal scientists were fired from Canada’s highest security infectious-disease laboratory.
RCMP ACTS ON SEXUAL; MISCONDUCT - The RCMP is launching an independent body this month that will have the power to investigate complaints of sexual misconduct and harassment within the national police force and recommend discipline after decades of struggling to address these issues.
KENNEY FACES NEW COVID CRITICISM - Premier Jason Kenney’s office is defending photos that show the premier and senior cabinet ministers sitting on a patio at the Federal Building, saying they’re not in violation of COVID-19 gathering rules. From The Edmonton Journal.
AIR CANADA BONUSES DENOUNCED - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said bonuses Air Canada (AC-T) paid to executives while the company was negotiating a government bailout are “completely unacceptable” and the airline owes Canadians an explanation.
CODERRE FACES CHALLENGES - Allison Hanes of The Montreal Gazette writes about what a “textgate” scandal says about the challenges former federal Liberal cabinet minister Denis Coderre is facing as he tries to become Montreal mayor again. Story here.
FINAL SPEECHES- New signs of a looming election. On Thursday, the House of Commons Twitter account reported that, by unanimous consent, the commons has adopted a motion to hold a debate on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, to allow members not seeking re-election to the 44th Parliament to make their farewell speech.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Private meetings. Prime Minister does a “drop-in” to a virtual meeting with volunteers from the “Faster, Together” initiative on their efforts to encourage the uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations. He participates in a virtual event for the launch of the National Action Plan on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People. He also chairs the cabinet meeting.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh presents NDP’s Opposition Day Motion on reconciliation, holds a media availability, meets with the Canadian School Boards Association and attends Question Period. Also participates in an Instagram Live event with entrepreneur Jillian Harris and the NDP nomination meeting in Windsor West.
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on the necessary next steps in Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination effort: “The U.S. vaccinated more of its citizens, sooner – much more, much sooner – than we did, and is reaping the benefits. It is the same reason Israel and Britain, two other early frontrunners, have also been able to open their societies faster. That has tended to get lost in all the recent hoopla over Canada having caught up to and indeed having surpassed the U.S. vaccination rate.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how Bill C-15 will mean everything for Canada’s reconciliation progress with Indigenous peoples: “In theory, it doesn’t matter that the Senate took up Bill C-15 the same week that the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced they had located the remains of 215 First Nations children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. In reality, it means everything. C-15 will become law in the shadow of stark, new proof that Canada has horribly abused its Indigenous population, decade after decade.”
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on Chrystia Freeland’s misleading picture of Canada’s indebtedness: “Ms. Freeland has painted an at-best misleading picture of Canada’s true debt profile. Comparing apples to apples, we were not top of class in the G7 before COVID-19; Germany was. And we are on track to emerge from the pandemic with one of the highest gross-debt-to-GDP ratios in the developed world. There is no way for Ms. Freeland to sugarcoat that fact.”
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