Justice Harry S. LaForme resigns as Chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission

    TORONTO, Oct. 20 /CNW/ - Justice Harry S. LaForme today resigned as
Commission Chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation
Commission, citing an "incurable problem" that has led him to conclude that
the Commission "as currently constituted" will fail.
    "At the heart of it is an incurable problem. The two Commissioners are
unprepared to accept that the structure of the Commission requires that the
TRC's course is to be charted and its objectives are to be shaped ultimately
through the authority and leadership of its Chair," he said in a letter to
Chuck Strahl, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
    The other two commissioners are Jane Brewin-Morley and Claudette
Dumont-Smith. They have "repeatedly and openly" rejected the proposition that
the Chair was to shape the Commission's course, Justice LaForme said in the
letter. He was chosen as Chair on April 28, 2008. He is a judge of the Ontario
Court of Appeal.
    "Challenging the reality that they were appointed as providers of advice
and assistance to the Chair, the two have chosen to compete for control of the
Commission by insisting that it is to be run on the basis of simple majority
rule...Efforts on my part and on the part of others to move the Commission
away from their position toward one that would restore functionality and
respect have been futile."
    This, he said, has put the Commission "on the verge of paralysis."
    Justice LaForme said the other two Commissioners do not embrace his
interpretation of the mandate that emphasizes reconciliation. They and their
supporters "see the TRC as primarily a truth commission. Unlike mine, theirs
is a view that leaves much of the work of reconciliation for another day. It
is a view that does not recognize the need for uncovering and recording the
truths of the IRS (Indian Residential Schools) past and legacy as but a part,
however important, of the greater whole of reconciliation."
    "This difference in views would not be insurmountable if ours were merely
a case of competing visions open to debate and beneficial solutions. But they
are not. The two Commissioners insist that the direction of the Commission is
to be determined through a majority vote - thereby ensuring that their
restricted vision will be the one consistently sustained. Apart from the
essential fact that this not what was contemplated in their appointment,
majority votes at the TRC are unworkable for another, practical, reason. The
current unique situation of the TRC is that the two Commissioners have made it
clear that their majority rule would not be grounded in Commission
independence but would be shaped by the influence by some of the parties and
their political representatives."
    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created as the result of a
court-approved agreement to settle legal claims that residential school
survivors and others brought against the Government of Canada and Church
entities. The Commission reports to the parties of the settlement agreement
through the courts.
    The Commission's mandate is to document the residential school experience
through national and regional events with the aim of healing and forging a new
relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

    Please Note: Justice LaForme will not be giving media interviews at this

For further information:

For further information: Peter Rehak, (416) 992-0679

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