NDP confronts Liberals on Dept of Justice denying 3000 residential school survivors justice due to a technicality

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mark_alfred
NDP confronts Liberals on Dept of Justice denying 3000 residential school survivors justice due to a technicality

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Regions: 
mark_alfred

CBC article on it:

Indigenous affairs minister to look into rejected residential school cases

Bennett made comments in question period after coming under fire from NDP MP Charlie Angus

Here are the House of Commons debates on the matter.  First Saganash, then Angus, ask the Minister of Justice, Wilson-Raybould, about the claim rejection by the Justice Ministry, who declines to answer, with Bennett stepping in instead (Feb 3, 2016):


House of Commons Debate
:

Mr. Romeo Saganash (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, NDP wrote:

Mr. Speaker, today we learned that 1,000 compensation claims for harm caused at residential schools were rejected because of a technical administrative error.

This attitude flies in the face of reconciliation. Parliament did in fact offer an official apology. The victims have suffered enough. The government has to follow through on its intentions.
   
What does the Minister of Justice intend to do to correct this shameful situation?

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Lib.) wrote:
 
Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to the successful implementation of the Indian residential schools settlement agreement and to honouring all its obligations under that agreement. I have asked my department to look into this issue as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP) wrote:

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the hon. minister heard the question. The question was for the justice department.

What we have learned is that 1,000 victims of sexual and physical abuse in the residential schools had their cases thrown out on a flimsy legal technicality, which is that children who were abused in institutions run by the government are not, somehow, eligible for compensation by the government.

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Lib.) wrote:

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the member needs to know that my department is the client. The Minister of Justice's department actually gives advice.

I have asked my department to look into this, and we are going to look into it in a very serious manner right now.

On Feb 4, 2016, Mulcair once again follows up with Wilson-Raybould, who does answer this time:

http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode...

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, NDP) wrote:

Mr. Speaker, Canadians learned today that it is upwards of 3,000 indigenous people, who suffered abuse in residential schools, who have had their claims denied because of a technicality.
   
It was the Department of Justice that came up with this loophole, and argued against these victims in court. This is contrary to the spirit of reconciliation and a violation of the residential schools agreement.
   
Will the Minister of Justice instruct her officials to back down? Will she also apologize for this tactic and provide the compensation these survivors are entitled to?

Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould (Minister of Justice, Lib.) wrote:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member across the way for the question and certainly the passion he expresses with respect to indigenous people.

Without question, I share that same passion, as does our government, to ensure that we implement the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in a timely and fair way. As the Minister of Justice, I take very seriously my commitment to follow through with our commitments in the election to ensure that we are compliant with the charter and to ensure that there is fairness.

I have instructed my hard-working and dedicated officials to come up with options to remedy this situation, working with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs—

The Speaker wrote:
 
The member for Outremont.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, NDP) wrote:
 
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her answer, but she said “in a timely...way”. Does she not think these victims have already waited enough?

Pondering

This is an important issue.  I don't understand why the NDP is pushing the Justice Dept. on it. Apparently legally the victims are not entitled to the funds. Morally they are entitled.

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Lib.) wrote:

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the member needs to know that my department is the client. The Minister of Justice's department actually gives advice.

I have asked my department to look into this, and we are going to look into it in a very serious manner right now.

The Justice Department doesn't have any decision-making power on this. The department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is the client that the Justice Department works for in this particular case. The justice department gives advice to the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. The department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is now going to look into the issue. So, a week from now the NDP should ask if the minister has begun the process and how much time she foresees it taking before a decision is made.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Pondering wrote:

This is an important issue.  I don't understand why the NDP is pushing the Justice Dept. on it. Apparently legally the victims are not entitled to the funds. Morally they are entitled.

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Lib.) wrote:

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the member needs to know that my department is the client. The Minister of Justice's department actually gives advice.

I have asked my department to look into this, and we are going to look into it in a very serious manner right now.

The Justice Department doesn't have any decision-making power on this. The department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is the client that the Justice Department works for in this particular case. The justice department gives advice to the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. The department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is now going to look into the issue. So, a week from now the NDP should ask if the minister has begun the process and how much time she foresees it taking before a decision is made.

So you are saying the Liberal government has already started passing the buck between Ministries instead of dealing with the actual problem. If the NDP wants do know what the government is doing it should just wait until someone gets around to dealing with an issue that has been festering since before the election. Your apologies for the Liberals are becoming more nauseating every day.

By the way this story is already three weeks old just from when it was raised in the House let alone when they were denied. I guess its not a high priority for anyone in the government.

Pondering

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Pondering wrote:

This is an important issue.  I don't understand why the NDP is pushing the Justice Dept. on it. Apparently legally the victims are not entitled to the funds. Morally they are entitled.

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Lib.) wrote:

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the member needs to know that my department is the client. The Minister of Justice's department actually gives advice.

I have asked my department to look into this, and we are going to look into it in a very serious manner right now.

The Justice Department doesn't have any decision-making power on this. The department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is the client that the Justice Department works for in this particular case. The justice department gives advice to the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. The department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is now going to look into the issue. So, a week from now the NDP should ask if the minister has begun the process and how much time she foresees it taking before a decision is made.

So you are saying the Liberal government has already started passing the buck between Ministries instead of dealing with the actual problem. If the NDP wants do know what the government is doing it should just wait until someone gets around to dealing with an issue that has been festering since before the election. Your apologies for the Liberals are becoming more nauseating every day.

By the way this story is already three weeks old just from when it was raised in the House let alone when they were denied. I guess its not a high priority for anyone in the government.

Just the opposite. Didn't you read the post? I didn't bring the article here. I'm just responding.

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Lib.) wrote:

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the member needs to know that my department is the client. The Minister of Justice's department actually gives advice.

I have asked my department to look into this, and we are going to look into it in a very serious manner right now.

Time to ask for an update. I hope the NDP does.

mark_alfred

It's a bit of a red herring which department is to blame for this travesty.  The Liberal government is to blame.  Good for the NDP pointing it out and getting a commitment from the government to redress this issue.

Pondering

mark_alfred wrote:

It's a bit of a red herring which department is to blame for this travesty.  The Liberal government is to blame.  Good for the NDP pointing it out and getting a commitment from the government to redress this issue.

It isn't a red herring. She said her ministry is the one responsible and that she intends to look into it. This is left-over from the Conservatives. They were in power for 10 years and set a lot in motion. I agree it's important not to drop this file. A month should be amble time to come up with some sort of answer. 

There is also the matter of restitution for some victims who were tortured overseas and left out of restitution on a technicality. 

Is there a C-51 thread because I think movement on that is more urgent. Before they were elected the Liberals had documents specifying changes they would make in legal language. 

I hope the NDP doesn't lose sight of this and asks again in a few weeks. 

mark_alfred

It was Justice Department lawyers who made the argument of the administrave split, as mentioned in the CBC article (and as mentioned by Angus, Saganesh, and Mulcair) and it's the Justice Department that should back off and apologize now.  Angus is following up.  There's further detail here:  http://www.residentialschool.ca/committee-rejects-call-to-investigate-di...

bekayne

mark_alfred wrote:

The Liberal government is to blame. 

From the article you linked to:

Starting in 2010, Justice Department lawyers began to argue before IAP adjudicators that some institutions listed in the agreement ceased to be residential schools in the 1950s and 1960s, when Ottawa took over the operation of the educational facilities and left the churches responsible for only the dormitories – which is known as the administrative split.

 

Pondering

mark_alfred wrote:

It was Justice Department lawyers who made the argument of the administrave split, as mentioned in the CBC article (and as mentioned by Angus, Saganesh, and Mulcair) and it's the Justice Department that should back off and apologize now.  Angus is following up.  There's further detail here:  http://www.residentialschool.ca/committee-rejects-call-to-investigate-di...

That isn't following up. Bennett already told him it is her responsibility. 

“The oversight committee is not an investigatory body. It was set up to advise on and oversee the independent adjudication process,” Ms. Moran told The Globe and Mail in an e-mail. “The courts have determined that matters of the nature raised by Mr. Angus in his letters are otherwise outside of the mandate and function of the oversight committee.”

The courts already determined that they are not entitled to restitution because that is the direction the Conservatives took. Now a political avenue is the last resort. Bennett already said it is her responsibility. Following up would be asking her what steps she has taken. 

mark_alfred

Anyway, now that the government is aware of this unjust decision, hopefully they will rectify it in short order and give these residential school survivors the justice they deserve.

ETA:  It was not the courts that made this decision.  It was the IAP.

Quote:
The Independent Assessment Process (IAP) is a claimant-centred, non-adversarial, out of court process for the resolution of claims of sexual abuse, serious physical abuse, and other wrongful acts suffered at Indian Residential Schools (IRS).

link

And the decision is asinine and should be fixed ASAP.  The government is aware and should fix it now without delay.

And it was the lawyers from the Ministry of Justice who made this argument before the IAP rather than lawyers from the Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. In essence the Ministry of Justice turned what was supposed to be a non-adversarial out-of-court process into a court-like adversarial proceeding.  Totally wrong.  So the Ministry of Justice should apologize now. However, if the Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs wishes to take responsibility and apologize, then fine. But rather than dithering, they (the government) should move now and do the right thing.

swallow

There are updates on this case. 

Quote:

Daniel Shapiro, the chief adjudicator of the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), which was created to allow former students who suffered serious physical or sexual abuse to obtain quick redress without going to court, issued a bulletin to all of his adjudicators saying they should not proceed with cases that could be affected.

“As you will read in The Globe and Mail, the minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has made a commitment in the House of Commons to have officials conduct an urgent review of the administrative splits,” wrote Mr. Shapiro in the bulletin that was posted Thursday morning on the IAP website. “To this end, while the review is under way, Canada is requesting that any active files that engage in an administrative split be adjourned pending outcome of the review.”

Mr. Shapiro said in an e-mail to The Globe that “the administrative-split issue is a complex legal issue” and his instruction to adjudicators to put the cases on hold was made at “at Canada’s request.”

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/halt-ordered-to-denying-res... ordered to denying residential-school abuse claims on technicality[/url]

Which means Bennett's order was heard, at least, and the IAP acted on its own initiative to suspend denials.

But there's more since then. 

Quote:

The head of the committee established to oversee the process for compensating people who were abused at Canada’s Indian residential schools has rejected a call to investigate why government lawyers were allowed to use a legal technicality to have many of the claims thrown out.

Mayo Moran, chair of the oversight committee of the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), was asked in writing by Charlie Angus, the NDP’s indigenous affairs critic, to examine the IAP’s decision to discard what is estimated to be at least 1,000 claims on the basis of what is known as the administrative split.

“The oversight committee is not an investigatory body. It was set up to advise on and oversee the independent adjudication process,” Ms. Moran told The Globe and Mail in an e-mail. “The courts have determined that matters of the nature raised by Mr. Angus in his letters are otherwise outside of the mandate and function of the oversight committee.” ... 

But Mr. Angus said he is left to wonder about the credibility of the entire process when the IAP oversight committee is content to let the government, which is the defendant in the cases that have been thrown out on the “dubious technicality” of the administrative split, determine whether justice has been done.

“Who speaks for the survivors?” Mr. Angus asked. “This is absolutely bizarre. I have never heard of a legal process where people were so disinterested in ensuring that the process respected at least some level of protection for the claimant.”

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/committee-rejects-call-to-i... rejects call to investigate discarded residential-school compensation claims[/url]

Legal processes are one thing, but I think Angus is right to focus on the issue of "who speaks for the survivors." In this process, at the moment, no one. We can go back to a quote from the first article I linked: 

Quote:

Bill Erasmus, the regional chief for the Northwest Territories at the Assembly of First Nations who handles issues related to residential schools for that group, said Thursday that the government had no legal authority to unilaterally change the terms of the court-approved settlement agreement by deciding what is, and what is not, a residential school.

“If this is all about reconciliation,” said Mr. Erasmus, “then Canada has to give new instructions which talk about the intent of the agreement and the fact that there is a contract in place and we all agreed which schools were going to be included.”

Let's remember that the government is not acting out of generosity. It is not supposed to control the process. It has been ordered by the courts to take xertain actions, including compensating all survisors. It's managed to wriggle out on a technicality of paying thousands compensation - and it thus denies them not only reparations, but more importantly, it denies them the dignity of having their suffering acknowledged. The two sides amde an agreement. Ottawa broke it. This needs to end. 

I believe Carolyn Bennett and Judy Wilson-Raybould (who was herself on the AFN executive) would like to do the right thing. Bennett did not know about this, it seems, and ordered a review. It's been a month. This is the only IAF piece of unfinished business. The Justice department's lawyers ahve been arguing a denislaist position and are clearly in the wrong. They were acting on orders from Ottawa in doing so. So, Ottawa has to issue different orders. It's been a month. Time to issue those orders, or explain the delay. Time, also, for the IAF oversight committee to do its job and start acting like a neutral party charged with carrying out a settlement, not a partisan of one side. 

mark_alfred

Thanks for the updates swallow.

quizzical

What really pisses me off even more than this is their giving themselves a raise while begrudging  a pittance pay out in the scheme of things.

Pondering

Quote:
“As you will read in The Globe and Mail, the minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has made a commitment in the House of Commons to have officials conduct an urgent review of the administrative splits,” ...“To this end, while the review is under way, Canada is requesting that any active files that engage in an administrative split be adjourned pending outcome of the review.”

Mr. Shapiro said in an e-mail to The Globe that “the administrative-split issue is a complex legal issue” and his instruction to adjudicators to put the cases on hold was made at “at Canada’s request.”

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/halt-ordered-to-denying-res... ordered to denying residential-school abuse claims on technicality[/url]

swallow wrote:
 Which means Bennett's order was heard, at least, and the IAP acted on its own initiative to suspend denials.

Canada requested that the IAP suspend denials. Surely that must have come through government on Bennett's orders.  

Quote:

Bill Erasmus, the regional chief for the Northwest Territories at the Assembly of First Nations who handles issues related to residential schools for that group, said Thursday that the government had no legal authority to unilaterally change the terms of the court-approved settlement agreement by deciding what is, and what is not, a residential school.

Exactly, that is why the claims are being denied. 

swallow wrote:
 So, Ottawa has to issue different orders. It's been a month. Time to issue those orders, or explain the delay. Time, also, for the IAF oversight committee to do its job and start acting like a neutral party charged with carrying out a settlement, not a partisan of one side.

They did issue different orders. They ordered a review and they ordered the IAP to hold the claims rather than denying them until after the review. 

The ones being refused didn't go to government administered schools. Harper lawyers argued that meant they were not owed compensation by the government and the court agreed that legally they are not entitled to compensation. Presumably it would the the Church or province that would legally be liable for damages. 

Bennett seems to have acted quickly. When the review is done Bennett will get a report so she will have the official information to take a decision. 

It is refreshing that Canada made the request, not "the Trudeau government".  Trudeau is trying to dial back the heavy partisanship. The NDP would do well to cooperate for awhile. The politicking is not benefiting them it's making them seem partisan and unwilling to work with the Liberals. If the NDP is aiming to get the Liberals another majority in 2019 they are on the right track. 

Pondering

quizzical wrote:

What really pisses me off even more than this is their giving themselves a raise while begrudging  a pittance pay out in the scheme of things.

They are not giving themselves a raise. The amount being paid to set up and run offices was raised. The MPs are not and should not be expected to take that out of their own salaries. 

 

quizzical

like they would've anyway. lol

look over here not there.......

mark_alfred

The latest exchange in the House on February 26, 2016:

Ms. Sheri Benson (Saskatoon West, NDP) wrote:
Mr. Speaker, thousands of indigenous children abused in residential schools have been denied justice after the government used a legal loophole against them. It has been a month since the Liberals promised urgent action. Not only has this not happened, but today we learned that the oversight committee will not investigate why the government was allowed to use a legal technicality to deny these legitimate claims.    

Will the Minister of Justice now direct her officials to abandon their legal loopholes and instead start working to bring justice to these victims?

Mr. Sean Casey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.) wrote:
Mr. Speaker, we certainly are aware of the situation raised by the hon. member. The Department of Justice officials will continue to work with first nations to resolve these conflicts and these issues. In any given situation, it is ultimately up to the tribunal in question, but we are apprised of the situation and will continue to work co-operatively to get it resolved.

So, the issue is still a work in progress.  Good to see the NDP continuing to pressure the government to do the right thing.

Pondering

mark_alfred wrote:

The latest exchange in the House on February 26, 2016:

Ms. Sheri Benson (Saskatoon West, NDP) wrote:
Mr. Speaker, thousands of indigenous children abused in residential schools have been denied justice after the government used a legal loophole against them. It has been a month since the Liberals promised urgent action. Not only has this not happened, but today we learned that the oversight committee will not investigate why the government was allowed to use a legal technicality to deny these legitimate claims.    

Will the Minister of Justice now direct her officials to abandon their legal loopholes and instead start working to bring justice to these victims?

Mr. Sean Casey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.) wrote:
Mr. Speaker, we certainly are aware of the situation raised by the hon. member. The Department of Justice officials will continue to work with first nations to resolve these conflicts and these issues. In any given situation, it is ultimately up to the tribunal in question, but we are apprised of the situation and will continue to work co-operatively to get it resolved.

So, the issue is still a work in progress.  Good to see the NDP continuing to pressure the government to do the right thing.

Too bad that isn't what the NDP is doing. Instead they are trying to confuse Canadians to advance the NDP. It won't work. The IAP doesn't have a mandate to "investigate" and there is nothing to "investigate".  The Liberals are proceeding with a review and have halted the refusals pending the findings of the review. It could take months not weeks before the review is turned in, examined, and a decision taken. If the NDP thinks these decisions should be taken on the fly in the house without any verification then they aren't qualified to run a government. 

mark_alfred

It was the oversight committee of the IAP that was asked by Angus to investigate, and this was declined by that committee.  A reasonable question on behalf of Angus, I feel.  The NDP (Angus, Saganash, et al) is doing what it should, which is looking out for the interests of constituents who need assistance.  I'm not sure why you condemn the NDP for that.  This question was reasonable:  "Will the Minister of Justice now direct her officials to abandon their legal loopholes and instead start working to bring justice to these victims?"  The questioner feels the loopholes were insufficient reason to deny compensation, which was the basis of the whole issue right from the start.  What's unreasonable about expressing that?  Do you feel the NDP should not have raised this issue?

swallow

Pondering wrote:
The ones being refused didn't go to government administered schools. Harper lawyers argued that meant they were not owed compensation by the government and the court agreed that legally they are not entitled to compensation. Presumably it would the the Church or province that would legally be liable for damages. 

I really don't give a shit about the partisanm bickering around the issue, so I'll ignore all the arguments about Liberals vs NDP.  

But there is a clear moral commitment on Ottawa's part to provide reparations to all residential school survivors. Phil Fontaine's quote implies that these were government-mandated schools, even if they were in part church-managed. The government has a moral obligation to repair damage to all survivors of the agreed-upon schools, and a moral responsibility for the entire residential schools system.

As Carolyn Bennett would no doubt agree, the pointblank denials of these claims must end. Defences of the denials are, well, problematic at best. Bennett has not defended the denials. You seem to be doing so, if I read correctly (they "didn't go to government administered schools" and someone else is liable). I hope I read you wrong? 

Pondering

swallow wrote:

Pondering wrote:
The ones being refused didn't go to government administered schools. Harper lawyers argued that meant they were not owed compensation by the government and the court agreed that legally they are not entitled to compensation. Presumably it would the the Church or province that would legally be liable for damages. 

I really don't give a shit about the partisanm bickering around the issue, so I'll ignore all the arguments about Liberals vs NDP.  

But there is a clear moral commitment on Ottawa's part to provide reparations to all residential school survivors. Phil Fontaine's quote implies that these were government-mandated schools, even if they were in part church-managed. The government has a moral obligation to repair damage to all survivors of the agreed-upon schools, and a moral responsibility for the entire residential schools system.

As Carolyn Bennett would no doubt agree, the pointblank denials of these claims must end. Defences of the denials are, well, problematic at best. Bennett has not defended the denials. You seem to be doing so, if I read correctly (they "didn't go to government administered schools" and someone else is liable). I hope I read you wrong? 

No I am not defending the decision to deny just saying it is most likely in keeping with the Supreme Court decision from a legal perspective. For that reason there is no need for an investigation. We know what happened. The Conservative government fought it in court and when they lost they decided to do only what was required by law. 

Since it was brought to the attention of Bennett she instituted a review and put a halt to the rejections. I consider that to be prompt action for a government. I assume it will take months for the review to be done and the report prepared so the government can respond by creating different parameters for restitution. 

That doesn't mean we can now ignore the situation forever. It would have been reasonable for the NDP, or anyone else, to request an update. That update would have been "we are conducting a review and we have halted the denials". Another reasonable question would be "how long do you expect the review to take?"

I am offended that the NDP is playing politics on the file. It's a serious issue not a game. I want answers not dramatics. 

quizzical

i'm disappointed the government of Canada is again following the previous government's trend of marginalizing Aboriginal voice's, thoughts, culture, dignity.

i'm disappointed the government of Canada feels it's more important they have more money for their constituency office operations and staffing rather than reparations towards Aboriginals across Canada.

i am offended the government of Canada in a bid to get elected stated Aboriginals would be equal partners in Canada, are trying to wiggle from this on a technicality made by government law.

swallow

Pondering wrote:
there is no need for an investigation.

Quote:
Since it was brought to the attention of Bennett she instituted a review and put a halt to the rejections.

What's the difference between an "investigation" and a "review"? 

Quote:
I assume it will take months for the review to be done and the report prepared so the government can respond by creating different parameters for restitution.

Why should it take months to simply do the right thing and treat all survivors with justice? Why put different parameters on some survicors and not on others? What do you disagree with in Phil Fontaine's statement? 

Pondering

swallow wrote:

Pondering wrote:
there is no need for an investigation.

Quote:
Since it was brought to the attention of Bennett she instituted a review and put a halt to the rejections.

What's the difference between an "investigation" and a "review"? 

Quote:
I assume it will take months for the review to be done and the report prepared so the government can respond by creating different parameters for restitution.

Why should it take months to simply do the right thing and treat all survivors with justice? Why put different parameters on some survicors and not on others? What do you disagree with in Phil Fontaine's statement? 

The difference between a review and an investigation is that an investigation implies someone did something wrong and should be fired or arrested. A review gathers the facts without judgement and presents the information. 

It takes months because that is how government works and should work. I wouldn't want a government that hands out millions of dollars without doing due diligence. It would be reckless. I agree that it is urgent but neither yes nor no should be decided flippantly and they have a lot of balls in the air. Just on aboriginal affairs they have the Truth and Reconcilliation recommendations and the Inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women+ and the drinking water issue is also urgent. This was brought to their attention by the NDP. I appreciate the NDP raising the issue. Those people deserve restitution and deserve it ASAP. Nothing can make up for what they have suffered. The harm done went far beyond the ones who suffered directly, the parents and children who were separated, it destroyed entire communities for generations. In my opinon Canada is committing crimes against humanity. It's urgent that indigenous children get at least as much per head for education and more to begin to make up for the infrastructure deficit on reserves, not only schools but in the lack of safe homes. My daughter spend some time in Moosonee looking after babies and preschoolers in care, ie, a group home, and conditions were dreadful. 

So yes, it was a good thing that the NDP brought this issue up in the house. It alerted the government. It established that it is Bennett's responsibility to look into it. Once Bennett took responsibility for the file she became the person to question about progress. That could be done in the house during Question Period or as a written query to the Minister for an update or timetable. Writing the IAP was just weird after already establishing that it is Bennett's responsibility. The NDP is playing partisan games when they should be the voice of Canadians genuinely holding the government to account. We are all screwed if CETA goes through especially as it means TPP will be harder to fight. C 51 still hasn't been addressed. I don't expect the Liberals to have everything done yesterday. Obviously it will take time for them to fully control the levers of government. I want the NDP to constructively hold the Liberals to account. Instead they are focusing on their own interests. 

mark_alfred

Oh brother.  I think quizzical's post #22 said it best. 

quizzical wrote:
i'm disappointed the government of Canada is again following the previous government's trend of marginalizing Aboriginal voice's, thoughts, culture, dignity.

i'm disappointed the government of Canada feels it's more important they have more money for their constituency office operations and staffing rather than reparations towards Aboriginals across Canada.

i am offended the government of Canada in a bid to get elected stated Aboriginals would be equal partners in Canada, are trying to wiggle from this on a technicality made by government law.

That's all that I see happening here.

mark_alfred

Here's the decision that inspired the IAP to deny these thousands of claims, some of which had been on hold for as long as 2010:  Fontaine v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 ABQB 225 (CanLII).

Here's what I think:  Canada should stop fucking around and apologize now for the policy change in 2010.  There's no need for any further delay.

From what I picked up from the Globe articles and the Hansard, this is my understanding of it (note, even if I haven't prefaced something with disclaimers like "I think", it is still my understanding rather than fact):  As we all know, Canada forcibly took First Nations kids from their parents and put them in Indian Residential Schools (IRS) many years ago.  Many of the kids suffered abuse and hardship in these schools.  A lot of survivors filed a class action law suit against Canada.  This was settled between the survivors (the complainants) and Canada (the defendant) with the following agreement between the parties:  the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement ("Settlement Agreement").  The Settlement Agreement had a list of included schools within it.  The survivors would have their stories heard and assessed at the Independent Assessment Process ("IAP"), beginning I think in 2006.  The IAP is described thus,

Quote:
The IAP is for former students who have a claim of sexual or serious physical abuse. It provides them with a way to settle their claim more quickly, out of court. The process is designed to be claimant-centred, but fair and neutral. It is an adjudication process. The Adjudicator resolves claims and awards compensation.

Thus, the IAP is presented as an "out of court" process.  And for years testimony happened there and "Common Experience Payment" ("CEP") was granted to the survivors.  Then, suddenly in 2010 Canada changed its policy.  It sent lawyers there to make arguments that Canada should not be liable for some of the institutions that survivors suffered abuses at, despite them being listed on the Settlement Agreement as an IRS.  So cases involving these institutions were put on hold.

This was challenged in court by one of the claimants.  The case is Fontaine v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 ABQB 225 (CanLII). The main question was whether the IAP adjudicators have the power "to determine when institutions recognized as an IRS under the IRSSA [Settlement Agreement] cease to operate as an IRS".  Ultimately, yes they have that power.  So, even places listed and recognized on the Settlement Agreement as an IRS can be de-listed.  Bear in mind that survivors who signed the Settlement Agreement surrendered their right to make further claims on their experiences when they signed. 

Anyway, the decision in this case, while in Canada's favour, was quite critical of Canada (see around paragraph 74 -- emphasis added):

Quote:
It is difficult to render this decision, without a statement regarding the conduct of Canada. It is unusual to have a party to a contract come to court and take the position that for an undisclosed reason, after four years of implementation, the "light bulb" went on, and it realized it was interpreting a contract incorrectly. It is also most unusual that after that realization, the party continues to make some payments which it realizes that it is not legally required to make, but insist on the strict contractual terms in relation to other payments.

One struggles to make sense of this unfortunate reality for those who receive very different treatment under this settlement regime for serious assaults on their person, due to the 2010 change of policy.

In 2010, when Canada realized it had been mistaken about is interpretation of the agreement, it made a policy decision as to how to handle its continued conduct. That policy decision is not something with which this court can intervene. If it is assailable, it is in the court of public opinion and the political arena.

My opinion is the policy change of Canada in 2010 (via the Ministry of Justice) is an absolutely travesty.  This policy change that Canada enacted in 2010 is just wrong.  And, as the court determined, is assailable in the realms of public opinion and the political arena.  Canada's conduct is the problem.  This can and must be fixed.  Canada should do the right thing and apologize for this, drop the 2010 policy change, work to redress any harm that came from this policy change, and honour the Settlement Agreement as it was signed and understood initially.

mark_alfred

deleted double post

quizzical

you know i call bs on all of it. this the way i see it.

every person forced to be separated from their parents to attend an assimilation school of any type should have reparations paid, at minimum, even if they didn't want to tell their story for it to be made public.

individual nations should receive reparations for the attempted genocide and the destruction of their families and culture.

this is on top of land and resource claim rights.

 

Pondering

quizzical wrote:

you know i call bs on all of it. this the way i see it.

every person forced to be separated from their parents to attend an assimilation school of any type should have reparations paid, at minimum, even if they didn't want to tell their story for it to be made public.

individual nations should receive reparations for the attempted genocide and the destruction of their families and culture.

this is on top of land and resource claim rights.

Of course they should. I don't think anyone here is disputing that. 

quizzical

oh really? when you don't demand outright or speak this truth to the party you voted for then imv you are disputing Aboriginal rights.

Pondering

quizzical wrote:

oh really? when you don't demand outright or speak this truth to the party you voted for then imv you are disputing Aboriginal rights.

I have every expectation that the review will produce a report  which will be given to Bennett and she will restore the rights to restitution that Harper rejected. If and when the Liberals refuse to pay it out then I will condemn them. I expect a response or update on progress in months not years. 

mark_alfred

Pondering wrote:

quizzical wrote:

oh really? when you don't demand outright or speak this truth to the party you voted for then imv you are disputing Aboriginal rights.

I have every expectation that the review will produce a report  which will be given to Bennett and she will restore the rights to restitution that Harper rejected. If and when the Liberals refuse to pay it out then I will condemn them. I expect a response or update on progress in months not years. 

The defendant should not be conducting a review.  What sense does that make?  Canada has a pecuniary interest in the outcome, so they are not objective.  To draw a simile, imagine if a civil action suit was commenced against Ghomeshi by some of his victims.  Then imagine if mediation was undertaken by the parties, and an out of court settlement agreement was reached. If issues arose with this settlement agreement, it would not be proper for the defendant (Ghomeshi in the example or Canada in the situation of this thread) to be the one to review it.  If a review was necessary (which I feel it isn't) then it should be the oversight committee of the tribunal that allowed the situation, given that they are independent.  They've said no.  But, in my opinion, that's irrelevant.  Canada was wrong to change the policy in 2010.  Canada needs to apologize for this, respect the agreement as written and understood by the parties when it was signed, and work on undoing the damage to the settlement agreement that came from the policy change (under Harper) of Canada in 2010.  The longer Trudeau keeps fucking around, the more it begins to look like he agrees with the policy change that Harper put in place in 2010.  That's fucked, in my opinion.

Pondering

mark_alfred wrote:

The defendant should not be conducting a review.  What sense does that make?  Canada has a pecuniary interest in the outcome, so they are not objective.

There is no defendent. The court ruled that the government did not have to pay after they no longer controlled the institutions. This could go all the way back up to the Supreme Court but that would take a long time. The Liberals can make the political decision to pay all those who were abused under the residential school program regardless of who was administering the residences. It is the only acceptable outcome. If they don't do it then I don't care what else they do I will never vote for them again. 

swallow

Please tell them that - they are more likely to do the right thing if they hear that some of their supporters care about the issue enough to take 20 minutes and write an e-mail. 

Pondering

swallow wrote:

Please tell them that - they are more likely to do the right thing if they hear that some of their supporters care about the issue enough to take 20 minutes and write an e-mail. 

I'll do that but so could anyone. I'm not a member of the party so I don't think they would take my comments more seriously than anyone else's. 

mark_alfred

More on this issue here:  http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode...

 

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP) wrote:
 
Mr. Speaker, the independent assessment process was supposed to bring justice to survivors. Instead, government lawyers in the Department of Justice had over 1,000 cases thrown out under the administrative split. We now find that justice department lawyers suppressed evidence about a serial pedophile at St. Anne's Residential School, and then told the hearings that the victims were simply lacking credibility.

This really puts Canada in the spotlight if the Minister of Justice cannot explain why this is happening. I am asking her: Will she do the right thing? Will she stand up in the House and say that she will meet the survivors and fix this?

As always, Bennett ran interference for the Minister of Justice. 

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Lib.) wrote:
Mr. Speaker, I, too, feel that this is a terrible tragedy—

Mr. Charlie Angus wrote:
It is not a tragedy, it is a criminal crime.

Hon. Carolyn Bennett wrote:
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the clarification. Pedophilia is a terrible crime, and we need to deal with the ongoing effects of those abuses.

I can tell the hon. member that I am the client and the Minister of Justice is my adviser, and we will get to the bottom of this and seek justice.

mark_alfred

Writing the government about this regardless of your political loyalties is a good idea.  I did write them myself:

mark_alfred wrote:

Subject:  "Administrative Split" affecting thousands of claims at IAP

Dear Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould (Minister of Justice), Honourable Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister), Honourable Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs),

I want the government to back away from the policy change that the Harper Conservative government put in place in 2010 regarding the recognized schools within the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Both parties (that being Canada and the Residential School Survivors) had agreed on which schools were to be recognized as as Indian Residential Schools (along with possible additions later on).

The Independent Assessment Process was supposed to be an out-of-court hearing to allow victims the chance to tell their stories and have their damages assessed fairly. It is unconscionable that the Ministry of Justice of Canada decided mid-process in 2010 to send in lawyers to make technical arguments at the IAP to backtrack on the list of recognized schools within the Settlement Agreement. This just re-victimizes people. It is wrong, pure and simple.

This is a terrible policy change of the government in 2010. As a Canadian I demand the government apologize for this policy change and do everything it can to reverse this policy, go back to honouring the Settlement Agreement as signed, and rectify the damages of this policy change.

Sincerely,

mark_alfred address & phone number included

ETA:  here are the addresses I sent it to (though I've taken out the "@" and replaced it with "AT", so that I'm not feeding spam-crawlers):

To: Jody.Wilson-RaybouldATparl.gc.ca, justin.trudeauATparl.gc.ca, carolyn.bennettATparl.gc.ca

Cc: thomas.mulcairATparl.gc.ca, Romeo.SaganashATparl.gc.ca, charlie.angusATparl.gc.ca

Feel free to copy and write an email yourself.

 

mark_alfred

Well, I heard back from the government on the email I sent them.

Quote:
Dear mark_alfred:

Thank you for your e-mail to the Prime Minister. Please be assured that your comments have been noted and that they will receive due consideration from the Minister, whom you also addressed in your correspondence.

Once again, thank you for writing.

J.P. Vachon Manager/Gestionnair, Executive Correspondence Services for the Prime Minister's Office

Pondering

mark_alfred wrote:

Mr. Charlie Angus wrote:
It is not a tragedy, it is a criminal crime.

Hon. Carolyn Bennett wrote:
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the clarification. Pedophilia is a terrible crime, and we need to deal with the ongoing effects of those abuses.

I can tell the hon. member that I am the client and the Minister of Justice is my adviser, and we will get to the bottom of this and seek justice.

That is the opposite of playing interference. Carolyn Bennett, as the client, is taking responsibility for fact-finding and ensuring justice is done. The next step is to ask for a progress report and any written correspondence on the topic. Who in the minister's office has been tasked with discovery? How soon are they expected to report back? What instructions have been given to the Justice department? What steps have been taken so far? Is there a timeline?

We need constructive opposition not partisan gamesmanship in which the goal is to attack the government. All representatives are there to represent my interests not the interests of the NDP.

mark_alfred

Pondering wrote:

swallow wrote:

Please tell them that - they are more likely to do the right thing if they hear that some of their supporters care about the issue enough to take 20 minutes and write an e-mail. 

I'll do that but so could anyone. I'm not a member of the party so I don't think they would take my comments more seriously than anyone else's. 

Has the government answered the letter you wrote them yet?

mark_alfred

I still haven't heard back from the government on this (see post #36 & #38).  Here's a recent article on it and on the IAP process:  [url]http://aptn.ca/news/2016/10/20/ottawa-breaching-indian-residential-schoo... I'm guessing nothing has changed.

Quote:

“The way that government lawyers have taken advantage of the stature of the government to, in effect, seek and obtain rulings that allows them to avoid further responsibility or the responsibility which they said they would undertake during the negotiations of the settlement agreement causes me concern,” said Sinclair, in an interview with APTN’s political show Nation to Nation which aired Thursday. “I think in fact it is a breach of the settlement agreement….I am convinced survivors…would not have agreed to or approved the settlement agreement if they’ve known the government would come back later and say, now we intend to exclude these schools going forward.”

Sinclair was referring to the so-called administrative split, a tactic used by federal lawyers to defeat claims by arguing Ottawa’s responsibility for incidents did not extend to areas of residential school compounds after they were transferred administratively to other agencies.