Skip to main content

Carolyn Bennett, MP


PM’s remarks reprehensible: Inquiry necessary to take real action to STOP the ongoing tragedy and PREVENT these senseless deaths.

Posted on August 22, 2014 | No Comments

This article also appears on the Huffington Post here.

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.

His characterization of this ongoing national tragedy completely disregards the scope of the crisis, which was confirmed only months ago by an RCMP report. That report doubled the 2010 estimate of the Native Women’s Association of Canada of 600 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in recent decades to almost 1200 since 1984. Even more disturbing than the shocking number of Indigenous women and girls involved was the finding that their proportion of the homicide rate is growing drastically, from 8 per cent in 1984 to 23 per cent in 2012. That means that today almost one in four female homicide victims in Canada is Indigenous, despite the fact they represent roughly only 4 per cent of the female population.

In the face of these appalling statistics, the Prime Minister’s continuing refusal to call a national public inquiry completely undermines his credibility when he claims to be tough on crime or to support victims.

Just yesterday he again stubbornly refused to call a national public inquiry claiming, “we should not view this as sociological phenomenon”. This flippant dismissal of the profound impact of root causes on this chronic problem disregards even the watered down conclusions and recommendations of the Conservative dominated Parliamentary committee that issued a white washed report on this issue last spring.

While the Conservative majority on the committee refused to listen to the many experts and witnesses who testified to the need for a national public inquiry, even they disagreed with the Prime Minister’s discounting of the sociological root causes of this chronic violence. In fact the Parliamentary committee devoted a third of the study and an entire chapter of the resulting report to the root causes of this worsening crisis. Unfortunately the final recommendations ignored the evidence and instead simply cited inadequate existing government initiatives, most not even specific to violence against Indigenous women and girls.

It is clear that only a national inquiry would have the scope and resources necessary to identify the root causes of the violence and outline concrete measures to deal with this ongoing tragedy. It is the only way to provide justice for the victims, healing for their families and to put an end to the violence. Harper’s steadfast refusal to call a national inquiry flies in the face of the repeated urging of the victims’ families, every provincial and territorial premier, Indigenous leadership, the international community and civil society. As I have said before, he is on the wrong side of this issue and of history. This is not a women’s issue, not an Indigenous issue, it is a Canadian issue that touches the hearts of all Canadians.

The Prime Minister’s continued refusal to act is reprehensible. The Prime Minister is wrong. In order stop this ongoing tragedy and ensure the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal women and girls in Canada, he must call a national inquiry now.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s op ed on First Nations transparency

Posted on August 14, 2014 | No Comments

National Post - Page: A8

Liberals believe in First Nations transparency

Increasing the level of transparency and accountability across Canada’s public institutions is both good and necessary. Canadians expect that those given the privilege of serving their country adhere to the highest of ethical standards, and I strongly believe that it is the duty of those in public office to constantly seek new ways to increase the openness of these institutions.

Since I began my campaign to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, I have been talking about the need to raise the bar on openness and transparency in government. I believe that it is how we can restore a sense of trust in our democracy.

In the time since I became leader, Liberals have taken concrete steps to act on this commitment to openness. Our caucus has put forward our Open Parliament Plan, which aims to shine more light on what happens on Parliament Hill. As a result, all parliamentarians must now publicly disclose their expenses. I have also introduced the Transparency Act in the House of Commons, a bill which, among other things, would make it easier for Canadians to get information from their government.

By comparison, the Conservative government’s efforts to increase transparency have been entirely and narrowly focused on one particular group – First Nations people. And while everyone, including First Nations band members, believes that more transparency is needed, the Conservative government has abjectly refused to consult and work with these communities to create legislation that fosters genuine accountability.

Further, recent Conservative cuts to federal support for First Nations governance means that many bands are being forced to implement the government’s new financial disclosure rules without the appropriate and necessary resources. This presents bands with serious challenges, and has left many First Nations in a position where they are struggling to meet the standards the government has put in place.

Let me say that Liberal Party of Canada categorically supports greater transparency and accountability with First Nations – so do First Nations people. In fact, it was a Liberal government that engaged in a meaningful consultative process with First Nations communities during the 2004 Kelowna Accord negotiations, to establish strong new accountability measures, which sought to ensure the effective management of First Nations resources. This new plan was promptly discarded by the Conservatives when they came into office.

By failing to consult with First Nations people, the Conservatives have made obvious the political nature of their legislation. They are trying, yet again, to divide Canadians and to point fingers at particular communities in an attempt to score political points. Canadians expect and deserve better from their government. We believe their approach is the wrong approach, and we have said that we would replace their rules with better legislation created in consultation with First Nations people. We would also commit to ensuring that First Nations are provided with the necessary resources to allow them to successfully implement this legislation.

It is my belief that all Canadians will benefit from a broader, more effective approach to transparency and accountability that does not unduly single out a particular group, includes a greater number of institutions, and is based upon a meaningful consultation process. This is the path the Liberal Party of Canada is committed to pursuing, and we call on the Conservative government to join us in taking real steps toward greater transparency and accountability.

Justin Trudeau is leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

You may also be interested in this recent CBC article on the same issue: Justin Trudeau First Nations transparency comments draw fire from Tories

Liberal Statement on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Posted on August 9, 2014 | No Comments

Below is my statement on behalf of the Liberal Party to mark International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. You can also see it on the Liberal website here.

TORONTO – Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Critic Carolyn Bennett made the following statement today on the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples:

“Today is an opportunity for people around the world to acknowledge and celebrate the traditions and cultures of Indigenous peoples. I urge all Canadians to mark this day by paying tribute to the distinctive traditions and cultures of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples here in Canada. I would also like to take this opportunity, on behalf of my parliamentary colleagues, to reaffirm the commitment of the Liberal Party of Canada to the core principles set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Canada is a country that was founded on a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples. It is important for us all to reflect upon the nature of that original relationship, which was based on partnership, respect, and cooperation. We all have a responsibility to honour its spirit as we move forward in search of mutual benefit and progress. By respecting Indigenous rights, honouring and implementing treaties, and working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, I am confident that together, we will build shared and lasting prosperity to benefit all Canadians.

“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus, I invite all Canadians to join me in celebrating the influence of the traditions and cultures of Indigenous peoples both here in Canada and around the world.”

Reflections on my recent trip to Israel and Ramallah

Posted on August 7, 2014 | No Comments

Recently Liberal MP John McCallum and I had the opportunity to visit Israel and the West Bank, along with a number of our parliamentary colleagues. We […]

Read more

Heal100Kids Campaign

Posted on August 6, 2014 | No Comments

I was proud to add my voice to that of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and countless other Canadians to a campaign initiated by Toronto-St. Paul’s constituent, […]

Read more

Salsa on St. Clair and Saskatchewan Trip

Posted on July 23, 2014 | No Comments

Last weekend I attended one of my favourite St. Paul’s events of the summer, Salsa on St. Clair.  It’s always wonderful  to celebrate Latin culture with […]

Read more

My letter to the Minister of Health regarding bed bugs

Posted on July 23, 2014 | No Comments

Click here to read the letter

Read more

Assembly of First Nations AGA

Posted on July 18, 2014 | No Comments

I was so pleased to attend the recent AFN meeting in Halifax and was greatly encouraged by the constructive approaches of the attendees on many important […]

Read more

Calgary Stampede

Posted on July 14, 2014 | No Comments

It was another great year at the Stampede!  Just a few of the photos are below.  

Read more

Event notice: 17th Annual Dame Nita Barrow Lecture

Posted on July 7, 2014 | No Comments

17th Annual Dame Nita Barrow Lecture Centre for Women’s Studies in Education, OISE/UT 7pm July 22, 2014, George Ignatieff Theatre, University of Toronto Changing Laws & […]

Read more

Recent Photos

Contact Us

Would you like Carolyn to attend your community event? Do you have a meeting and would like Carolyn to be a participant or guest speaker? Invite Carolyn

In Toronto:
Constituency Office
1650 Yonge St., Suite 103,
Toronto, Ontario
M4T 2A2

Telephone: (416) 952-3990
Fax: (416) 952-3995

In Ottawa:
Room 804, Justice Bldg.,
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Telephone: (613) 995-9666
Fax: (613) 947-4622