Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair said on Wednesday his government, if elected, would begin an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, starting on his first day as Prime Minister.
Mulcair said the inquiry – which would launch into a national “full public inquiry” within 100 days of his NDP in office – would be held in cooperation with First Nations in Canada.
“We know that each of these deaths is a tragedy that could have been avoided, avoided if we had truly investigated the causes of this violence and acted to put an end to them,” Mulcair said (video above). “We need comprehensive solutions that go beyond just the government and police.”
On Wednesday – at a separate meeting between Canada’s premiers in Charlottetown, PEI – Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne and Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall both also voiced their support for a national inquiry.
“Saskatchewan would endorse any process or event that ends up with results, that’s really action-oriented,” said Wall. “We’ve talked about this since 1996. There have been 500 recommendations and various reports on this issue and on other issues. It’s time for us to make sure whatever we’re doing, whatever the process is, that it’s informed by a desire to act.
“Call it what you will, let’s make sure it’s not another ponderous, interminable process that costs a lot of money and helps precisely no one.”
Speaking alongside Mulcair on Wednesday, Liberal MP Stephane Dion said he had called for a public inquiry in 2006, when he was the leader of the federal Liberal party. Dion held that position until 2008, when he lost the federal election to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
Dion is now a Member of Parliament for Saint-Laurent–Cartierville.
“We still think it’s needed,” he said. “It’s clearly needed. We are in 2014 and we see that the problems are not solved. The difficulties are still occurring. We need to save lives for the future and use all the tools that we have to save lives.”
Dion also criticized Stephen Harper for his government’s inaction in holding an inquiry.
“He has no strong argument,” said Dion. “He said he’s not interested in the root causes. What kind of leader do we have, if he’s not interested in the root causes of problems?”
On Sunday, Aug. 16, a 15-year-old aboriginal teenager named Tina Fontaine was found dead in Winnipeg, in a bag in the city’s Red River. Police have treated her death as a homicide (CBC).
Speaking in Whitehorse, Yukon last Thursday (August 21), the Prime Minister said he would not pursue an inquiry into Canada’s missing or murdered aboriginal women – now totalling 1,181 in the country over the past 30 years, according to an RCMP report from May.
“I think we should not view this as sociological phenomenon. We should view it as crime,” Harper said (The Toronto Star). “It is crime, against innocent people, and it needs to be addressed as such. We brought in laws across this country that I think are having more effect, in terms of crimes of violence against not just aboriginal women, but women and persons more generally. And we remain committed to that course of action.”
His stance has been criticized by his opponents and others in the political sphere, provincially and federally, from Ontario’s Premier Wynne to federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
Wynne has called Harper’s assessment “outrageous, quite frankly” and Trudeau has stated that his party, if elected, would also hold an inquiry into the missing or murdered women.
“The prime minister has shown himself not to be simply… just out of touch with Canadians on this issue, but also on the wrong side of history,” Trudeau said last weekend.