Editorial: Reconciliation is an Empty Word for the Liberals

By Appealing the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s Ruling, the Government Once Again Shows Its True Colours.

Back in 2015, Indigenous reconciliation was a significant part of the Liberal platform that saw Justin Trudeau elected as Prime Minister in a majority government.

However, what followed in the next four years was a disappointing amount of inaction and harmful policy affecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis living in Canada, including pipeline battles and the lack of clean water that still affects many Indigenous communities.

Now, the Liberal government has disappointed yet again.

It chose to appeal the ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that found the government “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated against Indigenous children living on-reserve by underfunding child welfare programs, which contributed to the removal of Indigenous children from their families on a massive scale.

By appealing this decision, Trudeau and the Liberal party have yet again shown that they are much more concerned with campaigning as progressives, instead of actually being progressive.

The Liberal government, which faced a Dec. 10 deadline for completing a compensation plan, argued that “the compensation ordered by the tribunal to kids, their parents, and grandparents is inconsistent with the nature of the complaint and the evidence presented,” according to the CBC.

The Trudeau government has once again shown just how little the issue of reconciliation truly means to it. The past four years have been full of empty words and broken promises, but even with that in mind, going to court against Indigenous children ripped away from their families is a new low.

Worse still, the tribunal said that the federal government had “focused on financial considerations rather than on the best interests of First Nations children and respecting their human rights.”

The Liberals have themselves continued to focus on their own interests, over those of Indigenous people. Trudeau has said a lot of nice things in both of his election campaigns, but has so far little to show for it.

The government must be held accountable for its past failures, and the Trudeau government should not be permitted to avoid that in an effort to avoid potentially looking bad.

Of course, the Liberals are not the only ones who said they would be in favour of a judicial review of the ruling. Andrew Scheer’s conservatives said they would be in favour of it, too.

When the Conservative party agrees with your decision regarding Indigenous peoples, that’s a really bad look.

It’s important to remember that inaction only happens if we let it. The government can only avoid settling matters of reconciliation because it knows it can get away with it.

We must not mistake this as an issue only concerning Indigenous Peoples. A society is not just as long as justice is not given to all. The failure of a government to deliver justice should be unacceptable to everyone, not just people who are invested in Indigenous issues.

Because this ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is just one of many necessary steps towards reconciliation, we should absolutely not tolerate half measures, and we should not accept another empty promise from the Liberals. It’s not just a court ruling, it’s the lives of people that are deeply affected by these rulings.

Now, the Liberal party has been elected to a minority government. Perhaps the balance of power will force Trudeau and the Liberals to commit to its promises of reconciliation.