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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called for an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday for Parliament to address the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children in an unmarked gravesite near a former residential school.
Last week Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirmed the discovery on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. She said the remains were found using ground-penetrating radar.
The find sparked grief and outrage across the country. At a press conference on Monday morning, Mr. Singh called it a “painful moment,” and used the term genocide to describe what’s happened to Indigenous people. He also said he wants to see the government commit to taking tangible actions in response to the discovery of the children’s remains.
“It is not good enough for the federal Liberal government to just make symbolic gestures to commemorate this horrible loss,” said Mr. Singh. “We are calling on the government to do something concrete.”
Mr. Singh said that the federal government needs to fund support and healing for survivors, and that he also wants to see them work in partnership with Indigenous communities to investigate other sites at former residential schools. He added that the government should fully fund these investigations.
“The sad reality is this isn’t the last site. There will be more that will be found,” he said. “The Indigenous community deserves to have the justice of making sure that every site like this is uncovered.”
In response to the discovery, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau said Friday on Twitter that the news broke his heart and called it a painful reminder of that “dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history.” A subsequent tweet said that he’d asked flags on all federal buildings to be lowered to half-mast.
Flags at other institutions were also lowered, and people left pairs of small shoes outside churches and government buildings across the country as a visual reminder of the lost children.
On Monday morning, Mr. Trudeau said he is committed to supporting Indigenous communities. He is scheduled to meet with cabinet ministers on Monday afternoon to discuss what next steps the government should take.
Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion said that MPs have a “relatively shallow understanding” of conflict of interest rules, and said he’s working to improve that. Mr. Dion made the statements on Friday in an ethics committee meeting. The comments come after he cleared Prime Minister Trudeau of conflict of interest in the WE scandal.
Advocacy groups are warning that Canada’s pandemic travel ban is leaving many refugees in uncertain situations. Though the federal government says it continues to bring vulnerable refugees into the country despite the restrictions, organizations are raising the alarm that many people are still being left in limbo.
Liberal MP William Amos said he is “deeply embarrassed” after a second on-camera slip last week that was broadcasted to his colleagues on closed channels in Parliament. In a statement posted Thursday on Twitter, Mr. Amos said he urinated without realizing he was on camera. He later said he would take time to “seek assistance” without elaborating on what that meant.
Kieran Moore, who is slated to become Ontario’s new Chief Medical Officer of Health, has been lauded for his disease surveillance. Since 2017, Dr. Moore served as Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health - a region which has avoided the heavy COVID-19 caseloads of other nearby areas. Dr. Moore will replace Dr. David Williams, who is retiring at the end of June.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (contributor to The Globe and Mail) on why the discovery of a mass gravesite at a former residential school in Kamloops is just the tip of the iceberg: “We should be sad; it is horrific. But it is not shocking. In fact, it is the opposite – a too-common unearthing of the legacy, and enduring reality, of colonialism in Canada. To the degree it is shocking, it is evidence of how much learning there is still to do.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on why questioning government policy on China is not fomenting racism: “We all need to fight racial intolerance toward Asian Canadians. But it is not racism to ask why this Liberal government still hasn’t banned, as other countries have, the use of Huawei technology in Canada’s 5G network, why it launched a failed effort to co-produce a COVID-19 vaccine with China, or why the Winnipeg lab was co-operating with the Chinese military.”
Kelly Cobey (contributor to Ottawa Citizen) on why COVID-19 shows the need for ‘open science’ in Canada and elsewhere: “As both a researcher and a citizen, I can think of very few circumstances where science being conducted behind closed doors, and not transparently disseminated, makes sense. Should the public not have a right to view, appraise and use research? After all, tax dollars fund much of the research. It is a failing that the public is not allowed to engage with science fully.”
Matt Gurney (National Post) on why it might not matter that Ontario’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Williams is leaving: “Williams had the misfortune of being the guy in the chair when the crisis began. His struggles in the job make an awfully compelling case that he wasn’t the man for the moment, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have been entirely well suited for a different one. Alas, for both him and 8,000 dead Ontarians, we don’t live in that alternate universe.”
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