OTTAWA – New Democrat Aboriginal Affairs Critic Jean Crowder is calling on the Conservative government to announce immediately that it will not appeal the recent decision to order a new hearing into discrimination against First Nations children.
The Federal Court ruled that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal should reconstitute a new tribunal to hear arguments on whether First Nations children in care are discriminated against by a lack of funding.
“I sincerely hope this government will finally realize that this is an issue of fairness that must be addressed—and that it does not appeal this decision,” said Crowder. “There is a generation of kids in care right now that can’t wait.”
The Conservative government has 30 days to appeal the ruling. It has acted before to try and delay or stop this case on technicalities.
“Prime Minister Harper has promised a new relationship with First Nations people. He can start here by letting this case on child welfare go forward without any further delay,” said Crowder. “It was this Conservative government that insisted the Canadian Human Rights Act should be changed so it applied to First Nations people living on-reserve. They should show that they have confidence in their own legislation and let this new hearing begin.”
The announcement by Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Chair Shirish Chotalia that she will be stepping aside for stress leave should not hold up the process, Crowder said.
“It is unfortunate that Ms. Chotalia is not well and must go on leave,” said Crowder. “But I have confidence that it will not impede the tribunal from moving forward to ensure First Nations have access to justice.”