“The right thing to do.” Justin Trudeau is using that line from last week’s throne speech to justify a raft of measures he hopes will improve the lives of indigenous people.
But there are few signs the policy and spending implications of the commitments the prime minister made Tuesday to chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) have been thought through. In a speech, he promised he would be their “partner.”
The chiefs — foremost among them the clearly delighted National Chief, Perry Bellegarde, already quite cozy with Trudeau — gave him repeated standing ovations. And no wonder: the new prime minister has already agreed to give them pretty much everything they want.
The commitment to launch an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women is a reasonable gesture of reconciliation, charged with symbolism, even if it should probably look at the whole question of violence committed by and against aboriginals.
But the public airing of problems may yield some benefits and lead to a wider acceptance that we must do better. “It will give families an opportunity to heal and be heard,” the prime minister told AFN delegates, to loud applause.
More troubling from a fiscal and policy point of view are Trudeau’s commitments on First Nations education and his promise to implement all of the Truth and Reconciliation’s 94 recommendations — a pledge made before the TRC report was even tabled.
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