Failure to find buyer makes Federal government sole owner of Trans Mountain pipeline

Kinder Morgan sold the Trans Mountain Pipeline to the Government of Canada.

The federal government is set to become the official owner of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion after failing to quickly flip the project to another private-sector buyer.

Pipeline owner Kinder Morgan had been working with the government to identify another buyer before July 22.

But with that date set to pass without a deal, it was expected the pipeline company will now take Ottawa’s $4.5-billion offer to purchase the project to its shareholders.

The government had previously indicated that there were numerous groups interested in purchasing the controversial project, including pension funds and Indigenous groups.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s spokesman, Daniel Lauzon, said Ottawa still intends to sell the pipeline, if and when a suitable partner is identified and it’s in the best interests of Canadians.

“We have no interest in being a long-term owner of a pipeline, but we will be the temporary caretaker,” Lauzon told The Canadian Press on Sunday. “We won’t rush that.”

News of the failure to find another partner by July 22 came one day after protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain expansion took to Parliament Hill in hazardous-materials suits and carrying a fake pipeline.

It was the latest in a string of such rallies by environmental and Indigenous groups, which also included the erection of a similar cardboard pipeline outside the Canadian High Commission in London in April.

Lauzon on Sunday defended the decision to purchase the pipeline, saying the project, whose aim is to get Canadian oil to Asian markets, remains in the national interest.

The Trans Mountain expansion will build a new pipeline roughly parallel to the existing, 1,150-km line that carries refined and unrefined oil products from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, B.C.

It will nearly triple the line’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day. Trans Mountain is the only pipeline carrying Alberta crude to the West Coast and the hope is that most of the oil will end up in tankers bound for Asia.

Ottawa approved the expansion project in November 2016 and British Columbia’s then-Liberal government followed suit two months later.

But four months after that, the provincial Liberals were replaced by the NDP under John Horgan, who has a coalition of sorts with the Green party that includes an agreement to oppose the expansion in every way possible.

The federal government has said its hand was forced by Horgan, who has gone to court for judicial approval to regulate what can flow through the pipeline — a measure of opposition that made Kinder Morgan Canada, the project’s original owner, too nervous to continue.

The company halted all non-essential spending on the pipeline expansion in April pending reassurances from Ottawa that the project would come to fruition.

The federal government had said Canada would cover any cost overruns caused by B.C.’s actions, but in the end that wasn’t enough.

Following the government’s announcement that it planned to purchase the pipeline, Kinder Morgan agreed to start construction this summer as planned.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Liberals Approve Trans Mountain, Line 3 Pipeline Projects

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at the Francophonie Summit in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at the Francophonie Summit in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Canadian Press | Nov 29, 2016

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved two major oil pipeline expansions Tuesday, including the deeply controversial Trans Mountain line through suburban Vancouver, while maintaining his government remains on course to meet its international climate commitments.

The announcement ends the new Liberal government’s year-long high wire act seeking to balance environmental stewardship and expansion of Canada’s resource economy.

“We are under no illusions that the decision we made today will be bitterly disputed by a number of people across the country who would rather we had made another decision,” Trudeau — flanked by a number of his senior cabinet ministers — told a news conference in Ottawa.

“We took this decision today because we believe it is in the best interests of Canada and Canadians.”

The Liberals have been setting the stage for pipeline approvals for months, highlighting environmental policy moves like a national carbon price while making the case that the jobs, economic boost and government revenues from fossil fuel exports are critical to the transformation to a low-carbon future.

It’s been a tough sell.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion has become a lightning rod for climate protests from coast to coast, with opponents from among Trudeau’s own caucus of Liberal MPs and his political ally, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Climate campaigners and indigenous groups immediately attacked the government decision as a betrayal, while B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak issued an anodyne statement noting the province’s own environmental assessment of Trans Mountain continues.

The fight overshadowed quieter deliberations about Enbridge’s proposed replacement of Line 3, a half-century-old pipeline from Alberta to the United States that Trudeau approved Tuesday, effectively doubling its current working capacity.

Between the Trans Mountain and Line 3 expansions, the Liberals have cleared the way for exports of more than 1.1 million additional barrels of oil per day — and the production of between 23 and 28 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gases annually.

The Liberals hoped to leaven those numbers with Tuesday’s decision to permanently shelve the stalled Northern Gateway pipeline across northwestern B.C. and impose a promised oil tanker ban on the northwest Pacific coast.

But the prime minister also left the door open to more pipeline approvals, saying each project would be examined on its merits.

The “vital element,” said Trudeau, is the climate leadership of Alberta’s NDP government, which has imposed a 100-million-tonne cap on emission increases from the oil patch.

Trudeau said the Kinder Morgan approval, which includes 157 binding conditions set out by the National Energy Board, would create 15,000 new middle-class jobs.

“And as long as Kinder Morgan respects the stringent conditions put forward by the National Energy Board, this project will get built — because it’s in the national interest of Canadians, because we need to get our resources to market in safe, responsible ways, and that is exactly what we’re going to do,” he said.

Conservatives, however, immediately accused the government of providing less than half a loaf.

Interim Leader Rona Ambrose said the Liberals should have left Northern Gateway “on the table” and must now actively promote the other approved lines, particularly the beleaguered Trans Mountain expansion.

“I see very little prospect, politically speaking, that this pipeline will get built,” Ambrose said.

Alberta’s NDP premier Rachel Notley, who met Trudeau following the announcement, lauded the prime minister for his “extraordinary leadership” — crediting the Liberals for building the economy and moving forward aggressively on the environment while “understanding that you can do both at the same time.”

Notley called the Kinder Morgan approval “very good news for Albertans” at a difficult time for the province.

“It means that we can diversify our market, we can get our product to China and we can get more money for our product and we can enhance our economic independence not only in Alberta but all of Canada,” she said.

However, Tom Mulcair, leader of the federal New Democrats, said Trudeau “betrayed” British Columbians by breaking his “solemn promise” to never approve Kinder Morgan without redoing the Harper government’s flawed environmental review process.

“He still doesn’t even have a plan to deal with greenhouse gases after the Paris conference,” Mulcair said. “So, there’s no excuse for what he’s doing here today.”

Climate advocates such as Patrick DeRochie of Environmental Defence said the approvals raise “grave doubts” Canada can meet its international 2030 climate goals, and that much deeper emissions cuts will have to be made elsewhere in the Canadian economy.

Many indigenous leaders, with whom the Liberals have promised a new nation-to-nation relationship, were scathing.

“The struggle will simply intensify,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Chiefs. “It will become more litigious, it will become more political and the battle will continue.”

There are no conditions under which the chiefs would have been willing to agree to the project, Phillip added.

“The risks are just too grave. The tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet will increase by 700 per cent and it’s inevitable that there will be a collision in a very congested inlet.”

Trudeau made a point of saying overall ship traffic in the inlet would increase by only 13 per cent, but critics said the government clearly lacks community approval for the decisions.

“He doesn’t have social license,” cracked the NDP’s Mulcair. “Heck, he doesn’t ever have a learner’s permit.”

Earlier Tuesday, the broad strokes of a year-long Liberal government effort to position the government between fossil fuel development advocates, indigenous groups and climate policy hawks played out during question period in the House of Commons.

Ambrose challenged Trudeau that it is not enough for the government to approve major pipelines; it must then “champion them through to the end” in order to see that they actually get built.

Mulcair, by contrast, accused the Liberals of a “Goldilocks approach” that has browbeat the Liberal party’s own environmentally conscious, anti-pipeline MPs into silence.

Trudeau was happy to claim the middle ground.

“One side of this House wants us to approve everything and ignore indigenous communities and environmental responsibilities,” he said.

“The other side of the House doesn’t care about the jobs or the economic growth that comes with getting our resources to market.”

The pipeline decisions follow weeks of Liberal government announcements designed to show it is serious about combating climate change, including an accelerated coal phase-out, a national floor price on carbon emissions starting in 2018 and $1.5 billion for ocean protection and spill clean-ups.

Trudeau confirmed Tuesday that he’ll be holding a first ministers meeting with provincial and territorial premiers as well as indigenous leaders on Dec. 9 in Ottawa, where the pan-Canadian climate plan will be the main focus of the agenda.

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden will also be making a visit to Ottawa on Dec. 8-9 to meet with the first ministers — perhaps one last opportunity for the Liberals to showcase their environmental policy entente with outgoing President Barack Obama before president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.

[SOURCE]

Police Issue 99 Trespass Citations During Pipeline Protest On Parliament Hill

A protester is detained by Parliamentary Security and the RCMP after she attempted to go through a barrier during a demonstration on Parliament Hill, Monday October 24, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

A protester is detained by Parliamentary Security and the RCMP after she attempted to go through a barrier during a demonstration on Parliament Hill, Monday October 24, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

The Canadian Press, Oct 24 2016

OTTAWA – The Liberal government’s conflicting climate and pipeline policies were thrown into sharp relief Monday as more than 200 protesters marched on Parliament Hill demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reject any new oilsands infrastructure.

The protest resulted in the brief detention of 99 individuals, all of them issued citations by the RCMP for trespassing after climbing over police barricades near the foot of the Peace Tower.

The immediate focus of the demonstration was the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C., which the Liberals have said they’ll decide upon by mid-December.

But the larger theme was keeping fossil fuels in the ground, as many signs proclaimed, and urging Trudeau to keep his word on Canada’s international emissions-cutting promises.

On Monday, the World Meteorological Organization released its 2015 inventory of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and found that, on average, there were 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere. That compares to about 278 parts per million before the industrial revolution.

The report predicts that “2016 will be the first year in which CO2 at the Mauna Loa Observatory remains above 400 ppm all year, and hence for many generations.”

It is that cumulative increase that pipeline protesters insist doesn’t allow for more expansion of fossil fuels such as Alberta’s oilsands.

“Climate Leaders Don’t Build Pipelines,” said a giant banner carried at the front of the protest group, which was dominated by university students from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

Protest organizers called it the largest act of student climate civil disobedience in Canadian history, but the boisterous rally was a polite affair.

After some initial pushing and shoving at the police barricades, the protesters began individually climbing over the gates, often with police assistance, where they were then charged. The first dozen or so were handcuffed before being led away, but most of the detained protesters were not.

Andrew Stein, a McGill University environmental sciences student, said forcing the police to arrest them was the point of the exercise.

“It gets attention and it gets the word out there that climate leaders do not build pipelines,” Stein said in an interview shortly before climbing the barricade himself.

Protest spokeswoman Amanda Harvey-Sanchez, a third-year University of Toronto student, said pipeline approvals are a deal-breaker for many younger voters who helped propel the Trudeau Liberals to a majority government in last October’s general election.

“If Trudeau wants us on his team in 2019, he cannot approve this (Trans Mountain) pipeline,” said Harvey-Sanchez.

“We’re coming here to the capital to call on Trudeau to reject Kinder Morgan.”

Protest organizers said the 99 detained individuals, including Stein and Harvey-Sanchez, were issued citations that bar them from Parliament Hill for three months, but they were not fined.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr shrugged off the protest, saying “dissent is the hallmark of democracy.”

“We’ve been saying all along that environmental stewardship and economic growth go hand-in-hand in Canada,” he said.

“We have already announced — and we will continue to announce — very aggressive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, always mindful of job opportunities for Canadians in the clean technology sector and in the energy sector overall.”

http://www.timescolonist.com/police-issue-99-trespass-citations-during-pipeline-protest-on-parliament-hill-1.2372126

Justin Trudeau’s Lofty Rhetoric On First Nations A Cheap Simulation Of Justice

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses after receiving a ceremonial headdress while visiting the Tsuut’ina First Nation near Calgary, Alberta, Friday, March 4, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) Photograph: Jeff McIntosh/AP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses after receiving a ceremonial headdress while visiting the Tsuut’ina First Nation near Calgary, Alberta, Friday, March 4, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) Photograph: Jeff McIntosh/AP

An era of so-called reconciliation has disguised the continuation of Harper-era land and resource grabs

By  | The Guardian, September 19, 2016

By now, we all know the greatest priority of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is its relationship with Indigenous peoples. How could we miss the weekly reminders?

Trudeau graciously wrapping himself in ceremonial blankets. Hauling jugs of drinking water door-to-door on a northern reserve lacking portable water. Paddling the Ottawa river in his dad’s buckskin jacket and moccasins with Indigenous youth, after a sunrise ritual at dawn.

Welcome to the era of reconciliation, ushered in by a Prime Minister so different in appearance from his predecessors. Free of prejudices. Moved to tears by the country’s dark history. Committed to the need for deep, fundamental change.

Except this carefully scripted story, managed even more tightly than ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s, has long been unravelling.

It began with the fraying of Trudeau’s official platform. A legal order issued to the Liberals to end racial discrimination against Indigenous children? Repeatedly ignored. Compensation for 16,000 individuals snatched from their homes and adopted by non-Indigenous families in the Sixties Scoop? Opposed in court. And that historic budget for First Nations? Turned out most of the funds would flow only in 2020—after the next election. Not exactly the “new relationship” that Trudeau announced to rapturous international applause.

And then there’s what hasn’t made the headlines. In British Columbia, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces and elsewhere through Canada, there are scores of First Nations who have never signed away their Aboriginal title through treaties. For years they’ve wracked up debt while in negotiations with the government over lands sought after by mineral, forestry, hydro and oil companies. But as a pre-condition for any compensation, they’re forced to extinguish their rights to 9 out of every 10 parcels of their territory—rivers, forests, mountains, farmland, and everything underneath.

Fair to have expected a change under Trudeau? Instead the Liberals have given negotiators marching orders from a Harper-commissioned report that advises how to force through energy infrastructure. That’s because Indigenous rights stand in the way of pipelines, mega-dams like Site C, giant fracked gas terminals—and $650bn in resource projects over the next ten years that the Liberals are trumpeting as much as the Conservatives did.

Never mind that recent Supreme Court decisions, and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples before them, call for shared sovereignty or management over these lands. Or that many more Canadians are realizing that Indigenous stewardship of large swathes of territory—instead of its mismanagement by multi-national corporations—would be to the benefit of everyone.

Trudeau may indeed want to do right by Indigenous peoples, but the government is locked into a logic of its own: quietly maintaining exclusive control over Indigenous peoples’ lands and resources. Is this what Trudeau meant when he said his government would “think seven generations out”?

Turning the language of liberation into a contraption of conquest is nothing new: it’s part of Liberal heritage. In the early 1990s, as calls for Indigenous self-determination gained steam on the heels of widespread protest and the Oka crisis, the Liberals appeared to embrace the movement’s demand. They named their policy “the Inherent Right to Self-Government.”

Except this policy—still on the books—only grants First Nations rights such as policing, education, and the licensing of marriages; the government keeps all powers of trade, diplomacy and serious economic development and decision-making to themselves. No wonder Indigenous critics have said it turns First Nations into “ethnic municipalities”: it is nothing like a genuine third-order of government.

The Liberals latest utterances appear just as soothingly promising: “reconciliation,” “nation-to-nation,” even “decolonization.” The most slippery of all has been their use of “consent.” Though the Liberals have proclaimed their support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—at whose heart lies the right of “free, prior and informed consent”—they’ve been loathe to recognize it in practice on the ground.

It’s obvious why: the right of consent sends shudders through corporate boardrooms whose goodwill the Liberals covet. As an alternative, the government has wheeled out a hazy concept of “collaborative consent.” All that’s clear is it studiously avoids recognizing the actual right to say no to destructive resource projects. Indigenous feminists have underlined how this half-measure is hollow: whether it’s territories or bodies, if you don’t have the power to say no, then “consent” is meaningless.

The extractivist worldview—bent on treating everything as a commodity—that lay behind Stephen Harper’s resource agenda just as powerfully shapes Trudeau’s. In fact, the Liberals’ attempt to wrap themselves in the UN Declaration without embracing its central right may constitute a new, more subtle form of extraction: the extraction from Indigenous territory of consent itself.

Liberal moves to extract and manufacture consent and support for outdated policies are evident elsewhere: restoring funding to the Assembly of First Nations, a government-dependent organization that has since plumped frequently for them; appointing an Indigenous Justice Minister, even though Indigenous critics argue she has sided with the government agenda throughout her political career; and agreeing to call an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, but with a mandate far short of what impacted families wanted. As the weight of reality presses against Trudeau’s rhetoric, the ability to generate consent is crumbling.

Reconciliation is a powerful hope, an uplifting prospect, a deeply desired new relationship that Trudeau has compellingly invoked. But if reconciliation does not include the restitution of land, the recognition of real self-government, the reigning in of abusive police, the remediation of rivers and forests, it will remain a vacant notion, a cynical ploy to preserve a status quo in need not of tinkering but transformation. It will be Canada’s latest in beads and trinkets, a cheap simulation of justice.

The good news is that Indigenous peoples have never been more poised to push Trudeau from mere words to deeds. Idle No More left a profound imprint: a more readily mobilized Indigenous population and a far larger non-Indigenous reservoir of support. An influential presence on social media, a growing force in art and culture, Indigenous peoples are leveraging Supreme Court precedents and trying to rebuild their economies and nations.

They have endured too much to be satisfied with Trudeau attending a pow wow, flashing a Haida tattoo on his arm, or calling for yet another consultation and study. If Canadians are willing to do their part, Indigenous peoples can test Trudeau’s lofty rhetoric the most effective way possible: in the crucible of a rising movement.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2016/sep/19/justin-trudeaus-lofty-rhetoric-on-first-nations-a-cheap-simulation-of-justice

 

Potential Billion-Dollar Deal For Metis As Feds Address Historic Land Dispute

Historic Metis land claim

Historic Metis land claim

CTVNews.ca | May 27, 2016

A potential settlement expected to reach billions of dollars could be presented to Manitoba’s Metis as early as September after the Liberal government signalled it is taking steps to fulfill a 146-year-old disagreement over land.

On Friday, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett quietly stepped away from the Liberal party convention in Winnipeg to sign a memorandum of understanding with Manitoba’s Metis.

The document outlines the government’s intention to finally honour a promise made under Sir John A. Macdonald to distribute 5,565 square kilometres of land, including what later became modern-day Winnipeg, to the Metis.

“It is, I think, as a government my solemn commitment and that of the prime minister to end the status quo, renewing Canada’s relationship with the Metis nation,” Bennett said Friday at the memorandum signing in Winnipeg.

The signing of the memorandum signals that “the parties are taking a historic first step toward a shared and balanced solution that advances reconciliation between Canada and the Manitoba Métis Community,” Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada said in a press release.

Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett signs a memorandum of understanding alongside Manitoba Metis federation president David Chartrand. The document outlines the Liberal government's intention to finally fulfill a land deal from 1870.

Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett signs a memorandum of understanding alongside Manitoba Metis federation president David Chartrand. The document outlines the Liberal government’s intention to finally fulfill a land deal from 1870.

The milestone comes nearly three years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 6-2 that the federal government failed to appropriately carry out its promise made in 1870. The 2013 ruling lent legal heft to the possibility of land-claim negotiations.

Experts estimate that the settlement could be worth billions.

Sources told CTV News that the modern-day treaty has been months in the making, with the Liberal government preparing to carry out the commitment since it came into office last fall.

Sources also said the memorandum of understanding, signed Friday, was written months ago. They added that a framework agreement on the potentially massive settlement could come as early as September.

And while plenty of details have yet to be hammered out, Metis leaders celebrated the historic step towards finally resolving the longstanding dispute.

“We waited 146 years for this. The future is going to change for generations to come, and we are no longer going to be sitting on the sidelines,” said Manitoba Metis federation president David Chartrand. “This is the new era of our nation.”

The disagreement stems from a promise made by Sir John A. Macdonald’s government in 1870 to set aside land for 7,000 Metis children from the Red River Settlement.

The Metis have argued that it took more than a decade for the government to begin distributing the 5,565 square kilometres of farmland and about 1,000 Metis children never received any of the promised plots.

In many cases, the land was randomly handed out by lottery and displaced the recipients from their ancestral land.

The deal was part of the Manitoba Act of 1870, which Canada’s first government crafted in attempts to end the Red River Rebellion led by Metis forefather Louis Riel. The act also helped Manitoba become a Canadian province.

Another landmark ruling for the Metis came in April when the Supreme unanimously ruled that Metis and non-status aboriginals are “Indians” under the Constitution. The decision opened the door for an estimated 600,000 Metis and non-status Aboriginals to gain access to federal First Nations programs previously denied to them.

With a report from CTV’s Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/potential-billion-dollar-deal-for-metis-as-feds-address-historic-land-dispute-1.2921150

No Trudeau Veto For Site C

site-c

Alaska Highway News‎, Feb 24, 2016

Little evidence of a change in course

According to Alaska Highway News,The Liberal government looks unlikely to block the Site C dam, after months of speculation over whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would reverse the Conservative government’s decision to approve the project.

In the House of Commons this week, Green Party and NDP MPs prodded the new government to further review Site C, citing concerns from local First Nations and landowners. But so far, it appears the previous government’s decision to issue federal permits for the project will stand.

Two Liberal ministers were asked about the $8.8 billion dam in question period, but avoided mentioning the project by name.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who put a question to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, said the project was “highly controversial and manifestly opposed,” saying federal construction permits were issued quietly during the last election.

But McKenna gave little evidence of a change in course.

“In the fall of 2014, the former government approved the project and set legally binding conditions with which the proponent must comply,” McKenna said. “The project is now at construction phase and BC Hydro must meet the requirements set out in the environmental assessment decision as well as other regulatory requirements.”

[READ MORE]

Inquiry Into Missing And Murdered Aboriginal Women To Begin Within Two Weeks: Minister

Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau look on as Carolyn Bennett is sworn in as the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs during ceremonies at Rideau Hall, Wednesday Nov.4, 2015 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau look on as Carolyn Bennett is sworn in as the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs during ceremonies at Rideau Hall, Wednesday Nov.4, 2015 in Ottawa.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – The Liberal government will begin the process within the next “couple of weeks” of consulting Canadians on how best to proceed with an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, the country’s new indigenous affairs minister says.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Carolyn Bennett indicated that the start of pre-inquiry consultations will be announced before the end of the month.

READ MORE: A look at 5 high-profile members of Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet, including Carolyn Bennet

“I think that we feel that we will need to make an announcement shortly,” Bennett said in an interview Monday.

“Within … a couple of weeks, we’ll have to be able to launch what we think is the best possible process for a pre-inquiry engagement.”

That process will involve speaking with the families of victims, provincial and territorial representatives and grassroots organizations, she added.

“A gathering is important with the families, but I think that we feel that we will have to go out and talk to people who can’t come here and listen,” she said. “I would see that there would be also an online opportunity.”

Bennett said it will be important to establish a road map for the inquiry, including spelling out its mandate and determining how many commissioners should take part.

In their election platform, the Liberals promised to spend $40 million over two years on the examination.

Aboriginal experts — among them Justice Murray Sinclair, the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which explored the tragic legacy of residential schools — say it’s critically important that the government get the terms and timeline right.

That will be no easy feat.

Ojibway activist Joan Jack, a retired lawyer who previously ran to become national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, is among a number of observers who want the inquiry to examine violence that takes place both inside and outside indigenous communities.

Bennett acknowledged those concerns Monday.

“I think most people that I’ve been listening to want the scope to be broad enough to deal with those complex issues,” she said.

The minister, a longtime Liberal critic on aboriginal affairs, has developed strong relationships in the indigenous community that promise to be helpful as she tackles what by all accounts will be a complex and closely scrutinized endeavour.

Sinclair and AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, for example, were both effusive in their praise for the selection of Bennett as minister.

“I think that people know that I don’t have a magic wand, that this is going to take some time to get this right,” Bennett said. “But I think what they want to see immediately are the indicators of a new way of doing business.”

READ MORE; How Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould could change Canada-aboriginal relationship

Job 1 will be to build trust.

The relationship between First Nations and the federal government grew increasingly hostile under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, especially during the Canada-wide Idle No More protests that dominated headlines throughout the winter of 2012.

Bennett said she will be relying on the allies she has enlisted in indigenous communities to provide feedback on how the government is doing on the file.

Isadore Day, an AFN regional chief in Ontario, has told the minister the federal government needs to be “adversaries no more.”

“That is what they are expecting,” Bennett said. “From coast to coast to coast, I think people, I hope, know that I will always be learning — but now that I have real friends, they are prepared to correct me.”

She also said the attitude shift starts “at the top” with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We have a prime minister who is passionately committed to reconciliation,” Bennett said. “This is a hugely important file to him and to Canada.”

There also appears to be a new openness from interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose. Bennett was “pleasantly surprised” to learn Ambrose plans to support the work of the inquiry.

The help of parliamentarians from all parties will be necessary as the government moves ahead with the process, she noted.

The Liberals have also vowed to tackle issues such as removing the two per cent cap on annual funding increases for reserve programs and services.

“There’s no question … that so many of the programs have suffered under the cap,” Bennett said.

“We intend to look at how we go forward with this fastest growing segment of the Canadian population being able to benefit from the programs that will allow them to be successful.”

http://globalnews.ca/news/2329813/inquiry-into-missing-and-murdered-aboriginal-women-to-begin-within-two-weeks-minister/