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Carolyn Bennett, MP

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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 went to listen and learn from both Israeli and Palestinian experts about the current crisis and, in particular, about prospects for a sustainable ceasefire.

There is no question that Israel has the right to defend itself. Equally, there is no doubt that the Palestinian and Israeli peoples have the right to live in peace. Tragically, the war has rendered these two rights mutually incompatible.

Naturally, we feel deep compassion for people who have lost their lives and livelihood in this conflict. We offer our heartfelt condolences to all those who have suffered, including to the families and friends of those who have died. We were both proud to add our voices to that of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and countless other Canadians to a campaign initiated by Toronto-St. Paul’s resident, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, to bring 100 Palestinian children impacted by the current conflict in Gaza to Canada to receive vital medical treatment. Please add your name to the petition and your voice to this important campaign here.

Because of this humanitarian tragedy, and from the beginning of the conflict, the Liberal Party’s primary concern has been achieving an immediate and sustained ceasefire and a long-term solution where both Israelis and Palestinians can live as neighbours, in peace and security, in two independent states. We are encouraged that a 72-hour ceasefire appears to be holding and hope that it can be extended and sustained. What we heard from both Israeli and Palestinian experts is that an essential criteria for lasting peace is ensuring that the Palestinian people have hope.

It is also crucial that the ongoing humanitarian crisis be dealt with immediately. In particular, we urge the Government of Canada to immediately increase its humanitarian assistance to Gaza and, when the opportunity arises, to make a major financial contribution to the reconstruction of Gaza. This is an essential component of a medium-term solution, and it is an area in which Canada can play a constructive role.

Please see a statement by Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau here and Foreign Affairs Critic Marc Garneau here.

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, […]

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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 […]

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My letter to the Minister of Health regarding bed bugs

Posted on July 23, 2014 | No Comments

Click here to read the letter

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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 […]

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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.  

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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 & […]

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Kidnapping and murder of Israeli teens

Posted on July 4, 2014 | No Comments

Those responsible for the horrific kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel must be brought to justice for these unspeakable crimes. I […]

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carolyn.bennett@parl.gc.ca