Bill C-29 is one that should be nonpartisan, but leave it up to the Trudeau Liberals to make it partisan

OTTAWA – In October, a Standing Committee for Indigenous and Northern Affairs within the House of Commons began to study Bill C-29. Bill C-29 has been drafted to implement only 2 of the 94 Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Specifically, if passed, it will implement Articles 53 and 54 which call on the government to establish a Council that will oversee the government’s steps towards reconciliation. As well it will set up a funding model to allow the Council to be funded and staffed to take on this work. Holding the government accountable in this regard should be non-partisan. 

Based on how things have been moving on this recently, one would be led to believe that this is a fairly new advancement by the Trudeau government. If you thought that, you thought wrong. In fact, MP Gary Vidal, a conservative who sits on the House of Commons committee, reminded the Minister of Crown – Indigeonus Relations, Marc Miller, and other committee members that most of the heavy lifting, and in fact the initial recommendations were sent to the Minister in 2018. MP Vidal stated “it appears that the majority, or the vast majority of the work was done by June of 2018. That is when the work happened” he then goes on to say that “until December of 2021, did the Minister actually take the next steps”. For context, that is nearly 3 and a half years of no action from the Minister or the government on clear recommendations. When pressed for answers, the government’s excuse was the pandemic – a pandemic which did not start until 18 months after the initial report and recommendations was sent to the Minister. 

Further, C-29 fails to address other Articles within that section of the Calls to Action. Article 56 calls on the Prime Minister to address the annual reports of the Council. Yet in the Bill, it would be the Minister responding. Based on this, it is clear that the Trudeau government only wants to pick and choose Articles to take action on. 

Not only have the Trudeau Liberals taken their time on establishing this Council, they have also been the only ones to appoint members of the transition team and have it stated in the proposed legislation that the Minister would get to appoint the majority of the Council itself. This calls into question the legitimacy and the independence of the proposed committee. Not only has this issue been raised by Conservative opposition members, but by First Nation leadership as well. Assembly of First Nations Chief RoseAnne Archibald stated while testifying “We do feel it’s inappropriate for the federal government to grant itself the discretion to appoint the majority of the board of directors responsible for providing this independent oversight of its own actions”. 

There has been nothing off limits for the Trudeau Liberals to politicize, including now the path to reconciliation. It is not like the liberal government had no recommendations to go off of. The Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action layout clear recommendations for government. So the question becomes why is Trudeau acting on some and not on others, and continuing to ignore Indigenous voices?