Special parliamentary committee on missing, murdered Indigenous women at centre of House of Commons procedural battle

The fate of a special parliamentary committee created to study the high rate of murdered and missing Indigenous women is at the centre of a procedural battle between the Harper government and opposition parties.

APTN National News
OTTAWA–The fate of a special parliamentary committee created to study the high rate of murdered and missing Indigenous women is at the centre of a procedural battle between the Harper government and opposition parties.

NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen says the Harper government is using the committee in a ploy to force opposition parties into giving the federal government “carte blanche” to re-introduce legislation at the same stage it died on the order paper after the governor general prorogued Parliament at the request of the Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“They are trying to get us to give them carte blanche on all the bills they want to reintroduce and they are holding up the study on murdered and missing Aboriginal women to do it,” said Cullen. “It is wrong to use this issue to do that.”

The Conservatives have introduced an omnibus motion onto the Order Paper to bring back all bills spiked by prorogation and revive a parliamentary committee that was studying the issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women. That committee was also dissolved as a result of prorogation.

“They have connected the two things. They are trying to get their whole agenda back before they shut down the house and tying it to the study on missing and murdered Aboriginal women,” said Cullen. “That is not normal, that is not right. We have told the government from day one, ‘don’t do that.’ It forces us into a place we don’t want to be.”

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan’s office accused the NDP of playing “partisan games” on the issue.

“We are taking a balanced, principle-based approach that reinstates government and opposition motions, bills and committee mandates as they were in June,” said Van Loan’s office in a statement. “This includes the special committee on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”

The motion could either be passed through unanimous consent by the House of Commons or be put to a debate and vote.

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Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.