Métis lawyer resigns from MMIWG national inquiry

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has been hit with another resignation.

Breen Ouellette, a Métis lawyer working for the inquiry in Vancouver, announced his departure via Twitter.

“More details in the coming days,” Ouellette posted June 30 on the social media site with a link to a one-page statement.

Ouellette said he worked for the inquiry from April 3, 2017 to June 21, 2018.

In the letter, he accuses the federal government of undermining “the independence and impartiality” of the two-year inquiry it established in 2016.

“I have experienced a serious loss of confidence in the National Inquiry,” he writes. “I cannot remain part of a process which is speeding toward failure.”

This resignation brings to nearly 25 the number of people that have quit or been forced out of the process tasked with examining the causes of ongoing violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Ouellette hints he has more to say but has to be careful not to disclose confidential information.

One of the four remaining commissioners – Michele Audette – only recently returned to help lead the probe, which in May was granted an additional six months.

Audette took a two-week break in protest after Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett refused to extend the inquiry by another two years and $50 million.

Ouellette suggested in the statement his resignation is related to testimony from “credible witnesses [who] raised the possibility that improper and illegal foster care apprehensions are driven by the self-interest of government bureaucrats.”

The inquiry could “use it powers to force government departments to comply with investigations into these allegations,” he added.

“The perpetrators could be identified so that government could stop the misuse of billions of Canadian tax dollars” but the “federal government is undermining this important function of the” inquiry.

Ouellette sounds like he wants to name names.

“I urge the public to demand that the Commissioners allow me to fully disclose the reasons behind my resignation,” he writes.

“Canadians deserve to know which provinces and territories perpetuate this unnecessary and harmful spending.”

The inquiry has never commented publicly on its high rate of staff turnover.

An email seeking comment on this resignation was not returned before this story was published.

 

Investigative Reporter / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.