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Harper at odds with calls for inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women

Indigenous women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population but account for 16 per cent of murdered women and 11.3 per cent of missing women in Canada. Most recently, 15 year old Tina Fontaine of the Sagkeeng First Nation was found murdered in Winnipeg.

The three opposition parties agree that a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is needed to understand the root causes of this and to develop a national action plan.

On May 16, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair stated, “A national public inquiry is the only way to seek answers about the hundreds of Indigenous women who have been murdered or gone missing across the country, and to begin to bring closure and healing to their families and communities.” On May 12, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau tweeted, “Canada must hold national inquiry on missing & murdered Indigenous women & girls.” And on May 14, Green Party leader Elizabeth May tweeted, “We need an inquiry NOW into missing and murdered indigenous women.”

Many others are calling for an inquiry.

Nova Scotia’s three main party leaders called for a national inquiry following the murder of Loretta Saunders. Manitoba’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson believes an inquiry is needed. The Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Métis National Council, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs have also all called for an inquiry.

And in October 2013, United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people James Anaya called on the Harper government to launch a “comprehensive and nationwide” inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

But the Harper government continues to refuse. Justice minister Peter MacKay said yesterday, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Ms. Fontaine at this very difficult time. …[But] now is the time to take action, not to continue to study the issue.” It points instead to its tough-on-crime legislation.

This is unacceptable.

The Council of Canadians continues to add its voice to the call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.