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MMIWG: Legault promises swift action based on report’s recommendations

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QUEBEC — Saying the federal and Quebec governments have failed to assume their responsibilities, Premier François Legault promised swift action on the recommendations of the report on violence against Indigenous women . But as was the case of his federal counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Legault has refrained from […]


QUEBEC — Saying the federal and Quebec governments have failed to assume their responsibilities, Premier François Legault promised swift action on the recommendations of the report on violence against Indigenous women.

But as was the case of his federal counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Legault has refrained from saying the damage and death was genocide as stated in the report.

“It’s a tough report and it’s unacceptable how we treated those women,” Legault told reporters arriving for question period on Monday.

“A genocide is something else. We had one in Rwanda, we had one with the Holocaust. It’s something different. We have to be careful about using these kinds of words, but I don’t want to minimize what happened.

“It’s unacceptable, it’s tough, it doesn’t make sense that we didn’t help these women. It’s a very tough report, against the Canadian government and against the Quebec government. I think it’s clear we have not done enough to protect those women over many years.”

Released in Gatineau on Monday, one chapter of the report is devoted to Quebec, recommending the creation of an ombudsman’s office to deal with specific situations involving Indigenous women.

Legault said he is open to the idea, but said before he acts he will want to consult with the nations affected to respect their autonomy.

We know that regarding police officers we will have to do more.”

“Right now we just got the report,” Legault said. “We know that regarding police officers we will have to do more, to do more to prevent violence against women and to find children who disappeared.”

He also didn’t rule out launching a process to find lost children, another recommendation of the national report.

He noted Quebec is also awaiting the arrival of a separate report being chaired by Justice Jacques Viens. Created by Quebec in October 2016 following incidents in Val d’Or, the report of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec is to be published by Sept. 30, 2019.

“For the moment, we are not excluding anything,” Legault said.

He said every Quebec ministry will examine the reports and public security in particular so they can take swift action. If more and better police training is needed, it will happen.

Legault, however, was cautious when asked about the federal report’s repeated use of the word “genocide.”

“A genocide is when someone wants to systematically cause a nation to disappear,” Legault said. “I don’t think we’re talking about that, but we are talking about something that is very serious: There are many cases of women and girls who experienced violence, who disappeared, who did not get the help they should have.

“It’s very serious. We have taken notice. We will act.”

On Monday, the Legault government sent Native Affairs Minister Sylvie D’Amours to Gatineau for the release of the document. She is to report back to the Quebec cabinet Wednesday.

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