Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Inquiry on missing, slain women premature at this point: politicians

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A public inquiry may not be the best way to proceed to address the national issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, the Manitoba government said today.

Attorney General Andrew Swan and Aboriginal and Northern Affrairs Minister Eric Robinson said the focus at this point should be on helping the families of the victims and not politicizing Monday’s arrest of Shawn Cameron Lamb.

Lamb, 52, is charged with three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Tanya Nepinak, Carolyn Sinclair and Lorna Blacksmith.

"We’re dealing with a very tragic issue right now," Robinson said. "I think we have to allow the healing and the mourning and that whole process to run its course and then we can consider options at a time to come."

The Grand Chiefs of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and Southern Chiefs’ Organization and other aboriginal organizations have called for a public inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

A rally will be held tonight in Winnipeg to bring attention to the issue. Swan and Robinson will be in attendance.

Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Tuesday Lamb’s arrest is a stark example of why the Harper government’s get-tough-on-crime policies are so vital.

Toews said with the elimination of conditional sentences and stricter bail restrictions for serious offenders will make Canada safer.

"We’re focusing on the dangerous, repeat offenders," Toews said. "We don’t believe that house arrest is sufficient in those circumstance."

Toews also said it was premature to call a public inquiry without more information about the Lamb investigation being made known.

"What we do know is that kind of a case, an individual with a 100 convictions, would get a conditional sentences or receive bail, these are exactly reasons why that we’ve made changes to the law."

Mayor Sam Katz said it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment at length on Lamb’s arrest, other than the how important it is to properly fund police to do their job.

"It’s important for us, as mayor of the city, to make sure that everybody is not only safe, but feels safe regardless of where you live," Katz said.

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