Monday , December 6 2021

When the MMIWG request is interrupted, Bennett defends the decision to reject timeline extension



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Interior Minister Carolyn Bennett says she is proud of the work that the missing and murdered stranger and the girl (MMIWG) have done to document the huge injustices introduced by the United Nations, Métis and Inuit women – but she also defends her move for to limit the requested timeline, despite grounds for letting the Commissioners continue for longer.

Since the survey began in 2016, the commissioners have signaled that they would need an extension to the two-year timeline that the Federal Liberal Government initially set.

Take a look at Commissioner Marion Buller's interview on Power & Politics

Timelines and accountability will be important in the future, says Commissioner Marion Buller. 05:28

The survey was released to submit its final report last month – but it only ended the last of its public material meetings on Friday after Bennett granted a six-month extension.

During that time, the inquiry was heard from almost 1,500 family members over 15 meetings.

But the commissioners, led by former B.C. Judge Marion Buller, has plagued the liberal government's movement to limit a time extension – accuses the government of attempting to report a report to a timeline that is in line with the electoral plan.

The final report from the survey is now expected in April 2019. A federal election will be held next autumn.

I think we did the best we could, so that the research aspect continued until December 31, and then give them extra time to write the report.– Interior Minister Carolyn Bennett

In an interview with Aboriginal Peoples Television in October, Buller said that Ottawa's refusal to extend the investigation was "terribly disappointing".

"I try to think of polite words to use, but terribly disappointing not only for us but for native people and non-native people all over Canada," Buller said.

"We look at this issue or problem of violence against domestic women and girls to be so serious and so important for all Canadians that it should have survived a electoral cycle."

Buller repeated the critique in an interview with CBCs Power and politics Friday says the final report lacks "breadth and depth" that the Commissioners hoped could include in its final report initially because of the limited timeline and other restrictions imposed by the government.

Bennett said Friday the government's first priority has been an early delivery of a report to families who have lost their close and those who have been requesting an investigation for many years.

She said the government decided to compromise by allowing more time while rejecting the request for another two years.

"I think we did the best we could to keep the survey going on until December 31, and then give them extra time to write the report," Bennett said in an interview with CBC News.

"The families have been very clear. They did not want it to go forever. They wanted something in place."

Bennett also noted that this was the first real national investigation by giving all provinces and territories issued order-to-afford giving commissioners some judicial powers – requiring the production of relevant documents from the police for certain crimes, for example.

A further extension of the timeline could have resulted in certain provinces and territories withdrawing their continued support for the investigation, Bennett said.

Bennett said she hopes that after the investigation has finished the work, the whole country has a better understanding of the colonial trauma suffered by individuals for domestic women for generations – trauma that often puts domestic women in dangerous situations.

"The ugly side"

She said that the disproportionate amount of violence that domestic women has endured is linked to the full story of the Indian housing school system, "Sixties Scoop" in the foster home and the current troubled state of provincial child and family services.

"People who are injured are hurting people. It's about what happens when people are injured as children," says Bennett.

"I think we have come to understand that all things, protection, education and all the things that have been talked about for a very long time, child and family services, racism and sexism in so many of our institutions … The Commission really confronts it ugly side of the divide found in Canada, says Bennett.

Buller said that the final report will provide practical recommendations that are "manageable", with fixed government timelines for implementation.

"Families and survivors will not let the government ignore our recommendations. They will keep the government's feet to fire," Buller said.

And yet Bennett said that Ottawa does not wait for the commissioners to complete their final report to implement some of the basic reforms that it believes may help to cushion violence committed against domestic women and girls.

"Even before the interim report, we discussed some of the things that pointed us out in the preliminary investigations," said Bennett.

First, the government is moving forward with a plan to fundamentally reform domestic childcare systems in the country, "said the minister.

Bennett constantly pointed to the regrettable state of childcare in her interview with CBC News – condemns a system that often prioritizes the arrest of children who need care for preventive measures. She said that the welfare system of children really is "the basis for so many social issues".

While only 7.7 percent of all children under 14 years of age are resident, they account for 52.2 percent of all children in foster homes.

"It's about a vulnerability that can be prevented. The request is about introducing concrete measures to stop this terrible tragedy – and that's what we have to do," says Bennett.

Interior Minister Jane Philpott announced earlier this month that the federal government would surrender the provision of childcare services to individual first nations over time in an effort to push down the large number of domestic children in foster homes.

Ottawa works with domestic partners to "co-develop" federal legislation that will initiate the process of delegating authority to the first nations, Inuit and Métis people to take care of their own children who need foster homes.

It is a deviation from how the current system works, which often leaves most domestic children housed in provincial child protection systems, which critics say ignores their unique cultural needs.

In addition to childcare reforms, Bennett also quoted the establishment of a special unit within the RCMP to develop best practice and change the culture of police as meaningful development that comes out of the investigation process.

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