Chiefs Concerned With Truth Commission Resignation

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 15:02



At least one Aboriginal leader is calling for the removal of the remaining commissioners on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the wake of the chair’s resignation yesterday.


In a letter of resignation addressed to Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, Justice Harry Laforme cited an “incurable problem” that he feels may lead to the ultimate failure of the commission.


Laforme said he was leaving because the two other commissioners — Jane Brewin Morley and Claudette Dumont-Smith — are unprepared to accept that the TRC’s course and objectives are to be shaped ultimately through the chairperson’s leadership and authority.


Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief John Beaucage says the remaining commissioners are “clearly responsible” for this turn of events and need to be replaced.


Beaucage says First Nations have lost confidence in the TRC in its present make-up, and is calling for a full review and reconstitution of the commission.


For their part, Morley and Dumont-Smith say they are “disappointed and saddened” with Laforme’s decision.


Dumont-Smith says since the commission’s work is unique and has never been tried before in Canada or the world, “it is not surprising that we have had some growing pains”.


She also says the three commission members had not met since August 26th, and believes had they met more often, she is sure that “we could have worked through any issues we were facing”.


Morley says she feels a responsibility to carry on with the task she has been given, and believes she owes it to survivors, their families, and their communities “to do my best to make this process work”.


Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine says, according to the court-approved Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, Ottawa must consult with the AFN on a “mutually agreeable process and person to replace Justice Laforme”.


Fontaine says the parties involved can’t afford to be distracted from the purpose and intent of the commmission.