Tory MP calls study of link between resource development, violence ‘disgraceful’

OTTAWA — A private email shows a Conservative MP from Alberta calling an NDP-initiated study into the relationship between resource development and increased violence against Indigenous women and girls “disgraceful.”

The exchange happened ahead of a Tuesday meeting by a House of Commons committee set to study the issue, which was flagged as a concern by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The committee on the status of women, chaired by Conservative critic Karen Vecchio, emailed some of her Tory colleagues in Alberta several weeks ago seeking suggestions for potential witnesses.

The email was inadvertently sent to the federal NDP. The party provided the initial email, along with a response received from Calgary MP Stephanie Kusie, to The Canadian Press.

The response on April 22 shows Kusie, who does not sit on the committee, saying, “In my opinion, this is disgraceful.”

She suggested Vecchio find a natural resources company that is owned by First Nations, and she also added that these companies contribute money to First Nations initiatives.

In a statement Tuesday, Kusie said she found it disgraceful that the NDP’s study “fails to recognize the many positive contributions the natural resources sector has made to Indigenous communities and stakeholders.”

Vecchio said in an interview that she supports the study because the safety of women and girls is most important to her.

She said any possible impact of the resource development sector on that issue should be explored.

She added that Conservatives have made sure to include witnesses that can speak to the issue of human trafficking.

Winnipeg NDP MP Leah Gazan, who sits on the committee and brought forward the idea for the study, said an apology is warranted.

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