Liberal MPs scuttled plans to have MMIW inquiry commissioners testify before committee in June

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Liberal MPs on the Indigenous Affairs committee appear to have scuttled plans to hold a hearing this month on the troubles facing the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).

Committee MPs initially passed a motion tabled by Conservative MP Cathy McLeod to invite the inquiry commissioners to appear before the committee by June 15. The committee clerk had reached out to the commissioners who tentatively agreed to appear before the committee, APTN was told.

Then, Liberal MPs changed their minds on the issue and argued the committee was already overloaded with too much work, according to information provided to APTN about the discussions which happened behind closed doors. Liberal MP Remi Masse led the Liberal side’s arguments on the issue, APTN was told.

“Masse shut it down,” said a source with knowledge of the issue.

Masse could not be reached for comment.

None of the MPs on the committee would comment directly on the issue because the discussions happened during in camera sessions.

McLeod, who is the Conservative party’s Indigenous affairs critic, said the motion is “sitting there,” but would provide no other details.

“I can’t speak to what happens when committee is in confidence,” said McLeod. “I absolutely believe we have an important role which is why I put forward a motion to meet with the commissioners to hear what their challenges are.”

Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree said he could not discuss internal committee business. He said the commissioners would be invited to testify before the committee in the fall.

“Over the years many of the commissions that have come forward have always gone through difficulties,” said Anandasangaree. “We need to give them the time and space to build a framework and execute it. In the fall we will hear from them on how they are progressing.”

The inquiry commissioners have faced criticism from the families of the murdered and missing who say they’ve received little information on plans. The families have also said they believe the Privy Council Office, which is the prime minister bureaucracy, has too much control over the affairs of the inquiry.

The inquiry has suspended hearings until sometime in the fall. There are no public hearings planned over the summer.

The Senate committee on Aboriginal Peoples also requested the commissioners appear and testify, but it won’t happen until the fall. According to a committee official, the commissioners were not available to appear this month.

The inquiry’s media spokesperson did not return a request for comment.

The inquiry held one session of public hearings in Whitehorse which lasted three days.

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