Hon. Carolyn Bennett
MP, Liberal Party of Canada
The Honourable, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MD, MP, was first elected to the House of Commons in 1997 representing the Toronto riding of St. Paul’s. She is currently the Liberal Critic for Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development, and Chair of the National Liberal Women's Caucus. From 2003 to 2006, she was Canada's first Minister of State (Public Health). Prior to her election, Dr. Bennett was a family physician, President of the Medical Staff Association of Women's College Hospital and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Seven years ago today, the Prime Minister stood in the House of Commons and delivered a poignant apology to the survivors of residential schools. The apology means nothing if all Canadians do not understand the history behind it. The Prime Minister has refused to deal with appalling gaps in health, education and economic outcomes, nor the deplorable living conditions in many aboriginal communities.
The "Action Plan" tabled in the House of Commons this week does nothing new to actually "Stop the Violence" against indigenous women and girls. Unfortunately the Prime Minister sees the overwhelmingly disproportionate number of indigenous women and girls facing violence, who go missing or who are murdered, as nothing more than crimes that should be investigated by the police after they happen.
09/17/2014 05:53 EDT
Prime Minister Harper's dismissal of the growing over-representation of Indigenous women and girls as victims of violence, homicide and persons who go missing as isolated crimes to be investigated by police illustrates just how out of touch he is. Moreover, the callous tone of his remarks yesterday, and failure to show any empathy for the families and loved ones of those who have been lost, shows a lack of compassion and leadership.
08/24/2014 10:45 EDT
It is not surprising that the Prime Minister's former lawyer Benjamin Perrin wrote an article supporting Mr. Harper's stubborn refusal to call a national public inquiry into the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. However, his position is in stark contrast to the overwhelming consensus in Canada on the need for a national public inquiry. Grieving families, Indigenous leaders, all of the opposition parties, victims' advocate and every provincial and territorial premier have all urged the government to call a national inquiry. This should not be a partisan issue.
05/22/2014 09:15 EDT
Monday, James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, issued his highly anticipated report. Professor Anaya has reported a broken relationship between the federal government and Indigenous peoples. I urge every Canadian to take the time to read it -- it is a great way to "Idle KNOW More."
05/16/2014 12:28 EDT
There seems to be some confusion as to the difference between open nominations and the commitment in the Liberal Party for open and fair nominations. In 2009, when we presented the "Change Commission" report to the Liberal Party of Canada, we really wanted to call it "Stop Rewarding Bad Behaviour." From coast to coast to coast we had heard stories of 'bad behaviour' in nomination and leadership races that were seriously turning people off the political process.
03/20/2014 05:17 EDT
Although the unanimous vote in the House of Commons to create the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women (the "Committee") was an excellent beginning, the report it tabled last Friday was a complete betrayal of the memory of those we have lost, the grieving family and friends left behind and those Indigenous women and girls who continue to be victimized by violence. The Prime Minister is on the wrong side of history.
03/13/2014 12:21 EDT
Dear Prime Minister, We are writing to outline our deep and ongoing concerns with how your government has managed the relationship between the Crown and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. Two hundred and fifty years ago, the Royal Proclamation laid out how the richness of the land would be fairly shared. That hasn't happened. In other words, you need to completely rethink your approach to dealing with Aboriginal Peoples, not only because of the need for social justice and respect for their Constitutionally protected rights, but because the failure to do so will have enormous negative impacts on the Canadian economy.
12/14/2013 01:17 EST
We now know the Conservatives' refusal to fund First Nations students attending school on reserves at the same level as their provincial counterparts is coming straight from the top. This is not just a shocking example of Stephen Harper's anti-democratic command and control style of government, but clearly demonstrates that the Prime Minister callously refuses to provide First Nations students with the equality of opportunity they deserve.
11/27/2013 12:24 EST
Last year the Conservative government spent more fighting Indigenous people in the courts than it spent going after tax frauds. From First Nations' child welfare to resource development, the government's response has been "see you in court." Who knew in 2011, when a government document listed Indigenous peoples as "adversaries" in terms of resource development, that this attitude would permeate every aspect of the Conservatives' approach when dealing with Aboriginal people? Prime Minister Harper's decision to abandon consultation and negotiation to drag Aboriginal issues through the courts is failing, costly, time consuming and undermines the honour of the Crown.
11/14/2013 12:42 EST
With the start of the new Parliamentary session next week, a key part of the government's agenda is expected to be sweeping legislation dealing with First Nations' education. The Conservative government has unilaterally developed a blueprint for the legislation and is now trying to characterize a number of strictly controlled information sessions over the summer as consultation. Put simply, First Nations are about to be presented with another top-down, one-size-fits-all government solution, absent proper consultation and without the necessary resources to fix the problems. First Nations have told the government that this approach is unacceptable and will simply produce a bill that won't work.
10/10/2013 05:47 EDT
The contents of recent reports alleging that Aboriginal children were intentionally malnourished and used as guinea pigs by the federal government in the 1940's and 1950's requires immediate and decisive action. The reports recount these children being kept on starvation-level diets and denied vitamins. The actions should outrage every Canadian.
07/22/2013 05:26 EDT
Tuesday night the Special Committee On Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will meet for the first time. This special committee, created by the Liberal motion unanimously passed on February 19, will have the mandate to conduct hearings on the critical matter of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
03/26/2013 05:27 EDT
To suggest Harper has consulted with First Nations leaders because of the meeting on Friday is simply ridiculous. First Nations know the realities of what they are facing and the Conservatives' dishonest talking points, aimed at convincing average Canadians they are making progress, are further undermining what little credibility they have with Canada's indigenous population.
01/16/2013 08:01 EST
Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat started a hunger strike this week -- "I am willing to die for my people because the pain is too much and it's time for the government to realize what it's doing to us." The frustration of Aboriginal Peoples is understandable given the complete lack of progress on their issues and the refusal of the government to fulfill its legal obligation to consult with them on matters that may impact their inherent and/or treaty rights. The outrage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis is not only understandable, but justified.
12/13/2012 12:20 EST
The unusually forceful language in the recent government report titled "Marginalized" underscores the abject failure of this government's simplistic and outdated "tough on crime" approach, particularly for Canada's Aboriginal population. Aboriginal peoples are 4 per cent of the Canadian population, but 20 per cent of the prison population. All Canadians must realize that it is in all of our interests -- in terms of public safety, cost and untapped human potential -- to heed the call of this report and take "aggressive action" to deal with this national disgrace.
09/29/2012 08:10 EDT
The Prime Minister's annual trip to Canada's North is always tough for me because it never deals with the real problems facing the North. The government must deal with the social and economic welfare of the people who live there. Our northern sovereignty depends on northern peoples. It's time he listened to them and worked with them on <em>their</em> priorities.
08/24/2012 05:03 EDT
Federal court ruled Wednesday morning the that the Conservative government's response to the crisis in Attawapiskat was unreasonable and failed to look at any remedy other than the appointment of a Third Party Manager. Rather that own up to their mistake the Conservative government says it is "disappointed" with the decision. What will it take for this government to take responsibility for its own incompetence? The Conservative government must work with First Nations to find solutions rather than simply trying to deflect blame for their own failures.
08/02/2012 07:54 EDT
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food recently toured Canada and reported, "very desperate conditions, and people who are in extremely dire straits" in terms of hunger. The Conservative response was to deny the problem and to attack the credibility of the Rapporteur. The government is turning its back on almost three million Canadians who are struggling to meet their nutrition needs.
06/01/2012 07:45 EDT
I am not happy with the cuts to the National Film Board (NFB), CBC and Telefim. It's culturally dumb. It's economically dumb. The cuts will only mean less jobs for the talented people working in this industry. It's time the government's support for telling our stories was not viewed as some fluffy option.
05/01/2012 07:25 EDT
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