Federal Tories dismiss calls for inquiry into missing, murdered aboriginal women
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, July 25, 2013 6:20AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:28AM EDT
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. -- The federal Conservatives are dismissing calls for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Peter MacKay says the government has already taken concrete action, including passing legislation that gives women living on First Nations reserves access to emergency protection orders.
Paloma Aguilar says it has also provided new tools to law enforcement and worked to improve the justice system, such as creating a National Centre for Missing Persons.
She says the government will continue to work with the parliamentary committee that's currently studying the issue.
The comments come after Canada's provincial and territorial leaders backed the call for an inquiry Wednesday after meeting with aboriginal leaders.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said it's an important issue that has touched every Canadian jurisdiction.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Newfoundland Premier Kathy Dunderdale couldn't make the meeting, but later issued statements saying they too supported an inquiry.
Job training, energy and infrastructure are on the agenda as all 13 leaders officially started their meeting this morning in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
The premiers are set to tackle several potentially contentious issues, such as the Muskrat Falls hydro project and a possible west-east pipeline to transport Alberta oil to foreign markets.
Wynne, who is chairing the meeting, says she and her counterparts must also find ways to strengthen the country's infrastructure to better withstand natural disasters.
Ottawa already has a fund for disaster relief, but Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger says investments should be made to limit the damage caused by fires and floods, rather than just repair it.
He says every dollar spent on bolstering infrastructure saves $30 in restoration costs once disasters strike -- and they seem to be striking more often.
"There's a lot that can be done there, and I've had this conversation with the prime minister in 2011 and since, and he has supported that in principle," Selinger said Wednesday.
"It's going to be a question of getting the program parameters defined and initiating the program with some resources attached to it."