Manitoba Liberal Party Leader Jon Gerrard and province’s aboriginal leaders called for the head of Manitoba’s Children’s Advocate Darlene MacDonald today at the legislative building.
Gerrard also submitted a petition in the house prepared by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Southern Chiefs Organization calling on the province to remove MacDonald.
Gerrard said the chiefs had lost confidence in MacDonald for comments she made to the Free Press in June that the cost of the ongoing inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair was "wasteful."
Gerrard first called for the province to pull MacDonald in June.
MacDonald has said her comments were taken out of context.
"This office fully supports the public's right to know the facts leading to the cause of Phoenix Sinclair's death," she said in a statement. "As well, the Office of the Children's Advocate is hopeful that the inquiry will closely examine the extent to which recommendations made in two external, independent reviews of this case have been implemented to improve child welfare services to children and families in Manitoba.
"Could the system have done more for Phoenix? Unquestionabl y-- we've made 200 recommendations in support of that conclusion. It's the job of the OCA to examine the best interests of all children within the child welfare system. My comments were meant to underline that mandate. Will this inquiry bring to light information about child welfare system deficits of which we are not already aware? Most important, will we invest an equal amount of funds towards ensuring that all of those 200 recommendations can be implemented in order to strengthen a child welfare system that better serves all of Manitoba's most vulnerable children?"
Family Services Minister Jennifer Howard said in the house Thursday she had no intention of asking for MacDonald’s resignation, as the OCA is an independent office that reports to the entire legislature, not just the government.
"My belief is that if it becomes a practice of this legislature to fire an independent officer every time we don’t agree with something that independent officer has said, that no independent officer will be able to hold any of us to account," Howard said in the house. "And that I don’t think is going to serve the people of Manitoba well or this legislature well."