While the federal Liberals are asking for patience in meeting the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ calls for justice, opposition parties say victims and families of violence can’t wait any longer.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller admitted to reporters on Thursday, that the government has failed to reach the benchmarks set out in the inquiry’s final report released three years ago.
“We’re failing as a country,” he said. “To the extent that respectively falls in part on the federal government, we have to look at it through that lens.”
At the same time, Miller said serious movement on the MMIWG’s calls to justice won’t happen overnight.
“This is something that – it’s not an excuse for inaction to say it won’t get solved overnight. But if you think it can be solved overnight, you’re kind of misunderstanding the gravity of the situation. These are investments that can’t be measured in one budgetary cycle. The investments in housing in the current budget will make a difference, particularly in the far north. The investments that are seen through the lens of reducing gender violence, will make a difference.”
The minister’s remarks followed a four-hour debate on MMIWG in the House of Commons on Wednesday night.
Winnipeg NDP MP Leah Gazan said victims and families of MMIWG have been patient long enough and can’t wait any longer.
“I’d like him to say that to families who are looking for loved ones at the moment,” she said. “Survivors of violence who are not getting support and women, men, and girls and two-spirit (people) trying to flee violence. I think asking them to be patient, asking anybody who’s dealing with this ongoing genocide to be patient is unacceptable.”
Saskatchewan Conservative MP Gary Vidal, who is the party’s critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations, said the Liberals have fallen so short on their commitments on MMIWG they risk breaking the public trust.
Something he says the government can ill afford to do when it comes to relations with Indigenous people.
“They typically have over promised and under delivered on so many things,” he said. “There’s lots of announcements, there’s lots of photo-ops, there’s lots of promises. But they end up being a little short on kind of getting it done. And so, maybe that’s a transition in strategy to say, ‘hey, let’s stop this over promising and under delivering,’ because the ultimate consequence of that is that trust is lost with people”
Last year, the government released its national action plan on MMIWG with seven priority areas.
At Wednesday night’s debate, Miller told the House of Commons his department will have an update next month on the government’s progress on these priorities.
On Thursday, Red Dress marches marking a day of commemoration were taking place across the country to remember women who were lost to violence.