Ministerial Question Period: The Creation of an Indigenous Ombudsperson Position

By: The Hon. Michèle Audette

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War memorial, Ottawa

Hon. Michèle Audette: Minister, as you know, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples released its report entitled Not Enough: All Words and No Action on MMIWG back in June.

I would like to share what several witnesses said during the study. The report states, and I quote:

Several witnesses emphasized the importance of Call for Justice 1.7, the establishment of an independent National Indigenous and Human Rights Ombudsperson, by all governments, in partnership with Indigenous peoples . . . .

This also applies to the Government of Canada.

The committee was also pleased to learn that the Government of Canada has begun to reflect on what this position might look like.

My question is simple, minister. Where do we stand today?

Hon. David Lametti, P.C., M.P., Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada: Thank you, Senator. That is another very important question that concerns not just the report on MMIWG but also the United Nations declaration and the process for establishing an action plan. That is what I am in the process of doing with the various kinds of Indigenous leadership across nations and with national and provincial organizations. Part of this reflection is precisely about an ombudsman or perhaps a tribunal or some other form of review, if you will, to determine the scope of the rights protected by the declaration or other documents. I can tell you that this analysis is well under way, thanks to the major role played by Indigenous leadership, and I can tell you which leaders have a stake in this.

Discussions are being held as part of our consultation processes with respect to the declaration. This should address not only the requirements of the declaration but also what the report called on us to do.

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