Proposal Floated to Restart Truth Commission

The Chronicle-Herald

October 30, 2008

TORONTO ó Lawyers participating in the commission into Indian residential school abuse have tabled a proposal aimed at moving the stalled process forward.

The $60-million, five-year Truth and Reconciliation Commission was derailed only months after it began when its head, Justice Harry LaForme, suddenly resigned last week.

Lawyers for the federal government and representatives from the Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches gathered in a closed-door meeting in Toronto on Wednesday to discuss the proposal with members of the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit officials.

"Productive discussions followed amongst counsel, all of whom are now seeking instructions from their respective clients," said John Phillips, lawyer for the AFN and National Chief Phil Fontaine, following the more than four-hour meeting.

The proposalís contents are not being disclosed while the groups have it under review.

"The parties remain committed to ensuring that the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is fulfilled in the interest of the survivors and class members," Phillips said.

Another meeting, where itís expected decisions may begin to be made, is planned for next week.The surprise resignation of LaForme, Canadaís first aboriginal appellate court judge, waylaid an already stalled investigative forum into decades of widespread sexual and physical abuse in the now-defunct schools.

LaForme has said disagreements arose over whether his role as chairman gave him authority to overrule the two other commissioners on the panel. He also specified a preference for reconciliation over extensive gathering of testimony from former students, which caused additional tension.


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