Manitoba Liberal leader asks feds to drop CFS challenge


WINNIPEG -- Manitoba’s Liberal Leader, Dougald Lamont, is asking the federal government to stop its challenge to a ruling that would compensate First Nations children taken into care.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Lamont urges the government to respect the finding of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, end court proceedings and move forward immediately with a plan to compensate children who were taken into the care of child and family services.

Canada was challenging the tribunal’s ruling ordering the federal government to pay $40,000 to every child who was improperly taken away from their parents after 2006, which would cover more than 50,000 children. 

The parents and grandparents whose children were taken were also to be compensated.

The federal government based its challenge on the timing of the compensation order, claiming it was issued too close to the fall 2019 federal election. 

On November 29, the Federal Court denied the government’s request to eliminate the deadline of Dec. 10 to compensate affected families.

In his letter, Lamont criticizes Manitoba's record of dealing with the issue of Indigenous children in care, a situation he calls a crisis.

“If we are to fulfill our obligation to healing and reconciliation, we should start with Indigenous families and children. We must recognize the wrongs that have occurred, while at the same time provide supports to families and communities that have been torn apart by policies of child removal for more than a century, ” Lamont said.

The federal court has also denied the respondent First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s request to adjourn or stay the Crown's application for a judicial review of the tribunal’s decision that first ordered the compensation, meaning the compensation will go ahead.

“There is a reason that the first five of 94 Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were all related to children in care,” said Lamont. “This is at once one of the most difficult and most important issues we have to address, without delay, for the sake of Children and our collective future.”