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Bring back committee on violence against indigenous women, Liberals urge

The Liberals are calling on the Harper government to commit to re-establishing a special committee on violence against indigenous women, saying the government's refusal to do so will compromise the committee's mandate.

"If this government is serious about addressing the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, it must immediately pledge to reconstitute the committee and allow it to continue its vital work," said Liberal aboriginal affairs critic Dr. Carolyn Bennett in a press release.

The Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women was established last February after a motion tabled by Bennett received all-party support. The House of Commons committee was given a one-year mandate to look at ways to address violence directed at Aboriginal women. The committee has been criticized by politicians for lacking direction and focus.

But the government's looming prorogation could bring the committee's work to an abrupt halt. Unlike standing committees, special committees are not automatically re-established. The government, however, could pass a motion to restart the committee.

Even if the committee returns to the discussion table when Parliament returns in October, opposition MPs worry the committee won't be able to complete its study before its initial February reporting deadline. Bennett has asked the government to extend their deadline but has yet to receive a response.

According to the Native Women's Association of Canada, more than 600 Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or have been murdered in the last two decades.

The committee met eight times before Parliament went on its summer recess.

Annie Bergeron-Oliver reports for iPolitics, where this article first appeared.

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