OTTAWA—NDP leadership candidate Charlie Angus is promising to find better ways to protect the interests of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children, including by dismantling the Indigenous Affairs Department.
The Ontario MP said he would create a federal ombudsperson for indigenous children, who would have the legal authority to order government departments to comply with policies aimed at improving child welfare.
Last month, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found the federal government's failure to fully implement “Jordan's Principle” may have played a role in the suicide deaths of two 12-year-old girls from remote Wapekeka First Nation in Northwestern Ontario.
The principle lays out how to handle jurisdictional disputes over paying for services to First Nations' children, saying the first level of government to be contacted should cover the cost, with arguments over jurisdiction to be sorted out later.
Angus said he also would audit the Indigenous Affairs Department and Health Canada in order to figure out how the government runs its programs, then work with indigenous communities on giving them the power to run them.
“It's time for action that returns accountability to where it belongs, with parents and these communities,” Angus said in a news release yesterday.
Angus also said he would work with the parliamentary budget office to determine the true cost of delivering service to indigenous peoples, ensure the Department of Justice stops fighting aboriginal rights in court, and end the “culture of secrecy” when it comes to government plans and funding for indigenous communities.