NDP’s Breen Ouellette wants doctors, other Canadians tried by international court for genocide of Indigenous people

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      They may be doctors who allegedly sterilize Indigenous women without their consent.

      They may be police officers, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists who allegedly work together to incarcerate native women in mental institutions so their babies can be taken away.

      They may be government officials and elected politicians who formulate and implement policies that are supposedly harmful to Indigenous people.

      For Breen Ouellette, a lawyer of Metis origin, they should be tried for genocide, an international crime.

      And according to Ouelette, who is running in the October 21 federal election for Vancouver Centre as the candidate of the NDP, it shouldn’t be a Canadian trial.

      “An accused should not be the judge in their own case, and in the case of Canada’s genocide, the state isn’t just the judge, but they’re also the investigators and the prosecutors,” Ouellette told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      As Ouellette asserted, “Canada is in a conflict of interest when it comes to genocide against Indigenous people.”

      “And we know it because for decades, the cases of genocide had been ignored by the police and Crown prosecutors as well as the politicians,” Ouellette continued.

      For Ouellette, these alleged offenders should be prosecuted and tried by a court of last resort, the International Criminal Court or ICC.

      The ICC is governed by the Rome Statute, an international treaty in which Canada is a state party.

      But the ICC cannot just go ahead.

      According to Ouellette, Canada needs to provide its consent in order for the international court to do its mandate.

      That’s why if he’s elected MP, Ouellette plans to introduce a private member’s bill for the Canadian government to empower the ICC to investigate, prosecute, and judge allegations of genocide.

      Ouellette’s intended bill also seeks the same permission from Canada to allow the International Court of Justice or ICJ look into allegations of genocide in the country.

      According to Ouellette, acts of genocide have been committed in the past, and are continuing.

      “I’m confident that the NDP wants to stop it, and that’s why I’m running for the NDP,” he said.

      Canada is a state party to the international Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

      The convention defines genocide as acts intended to “destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

      These acts including killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, inflicting conditions to destroy the group, preventing births, and transferring children to another group.

      “Our society is ready to face the truth and to do right to address these injustices, and to stop them from happening,” Ouellette said.

      Ouellette served with the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. He resigned, alleging government interference in the work of the commission.

      “As a lawyer with the national inquiry, I saw that the evidence for genocide is massive,” Ouellette said. “And it indicates that it’s continuing today.”

      Citing as example, he said that an Indigenous women is bringing legal action in Manitoba on allegations that she was sterilized forcibly by a doctor at a hospital following the birth of her second child.

      On June 3, 2019, the commission of inquiry released its report, and described the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women as “genocide”.

      About four years earlier, in December 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada or TRC, established to look into the history of residential schools, released its report.

      According to the TRC, Canada’s aboriginal policy for over a century was meant to cause Indigenous people to “cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious, and racial entities in Canada”.

      “The establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy, which can best be described as ‘cultural genocide’.” the TRC stated.

      Residential schools were boarding schools ran by religious organizations, where native children were forced into as part of the government’s assimilation drive.  

      According to Ouellette, the TRC has also reported that there is a “financial motivation” behind the ongoing removal of Indigenous children from their families and into foster care.

      “Large amounts of money are transferred by the federal government to the provinces for Indigenous children in foster care,” Ouellette said.

      According to Ouellette, his planned private member’s bill will also provide for the creation of a special task force of independent investigators and special prosecutors to assist the ICC.

      The members must be appointed by Indigenous nations through a process they control, and not by the Canadian government, the lawyer noted.