Un­due de­lays un­der­mine in­quiry

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ap­peared in the Toronto Star:

The Trudeau govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to launch an in­quiry into miss­ing and mur­dered indige­nous women and girls has pro­vided new hope to First Na­tions fam­i­lies that they would fi­nally get over­due an­swers about the vi­o­lence that has long af­fected their com­mu­ni­ties.

But ap­par­ent in­ef­fi­ciency and un­due de­lays are threat­en­ing to un­der­mine that hope. The like­li­hood that the com­mis­sion will meet its dead­line to file an in­terim re­port by Nov. 1 looks in­creas­ingly re­mote. Given the his­tory, this sim­ply looks like bad plan­ning. And there’s no rea­son why the com­mis­sion couldn’t at least hold hear­ings in ur­ban ar­eas where more than half of all indige­nous peo­ple live.

The com­mis­sion is fully aware of the hu­man costs of de­lay. In Fe­bru­ary the chief com­mis­sioner of the in­quiry, B.C. Judge Mar­ion Buller, ac­knowl­edged “the im­pa­tience and frus­tra­tion” sur­round­ing how long it has taken to get the hear­ings un­der­way.

Of course, she was right when she said the in­quiry must be con­ducted in “a thought­ful and pur­pose­ful way.” That goes with­out say­ing. But there is no ex­cuse for the de­lays or this lat­est prom­ise of sus­pen­sion.

We know this sort of work can be done both sen­si­tively and quickly. Con­sider that the three min­is­ters re­spon­si­ble for es­tab­lish­ing the com­mis­sion — Indige­nous Af­fairs Min­is­ter Carolyn Ben­nett, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wilson-Ray­bould, and then-sta­tus of women min­is­ter Patty Ha­jdu — heard from 2,100 par­tic­i­pants and re­ceived 4,100 on­line sub­mis­sions in a mere two months lead­ing up to the start of the in­quiry.

If the com­mis­sion­ers can­not soon demon­strate that they can get this vi­tal in­quiry on track, the Trudeau govern­ment should look to lead­er­ship that can.

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