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‘Should have been inclusive’: AMC says province failed to consult on bail reform plan

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) says the province failed to consult with First Nations leadership on the bail reform strategy it rolled out last week.

AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick says her organization was not involved in the development of the five-point plan, which is aimed at cracking down on repeat offenders through new guidelines for Crown prosecutors and funding for more police officers and bail workers.

Merrick says that is a violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, which requires Indigenous representatives have input on new legislation that affects them.

Merrick says there is a well-documented overrepresentation of First Nations in the justice system, so input from the 62 First Nations AMC represents is necessary.

“This is something that I believe should have been inclusive of the AMC, to be able to speak to and to be able to ensure that our people are spoken for through this process to be able to educate, to be able to provide information,” Merrick said in an interview with CTV News Winnipeg.

The assembly says the proposed plan lacks a rehabilitative focus and doesn’t address the underlying issues of crime.

Merrick sent two letters to the government in regards to the new strategy, and is waiting to hear back.

When asked for comment, Justice Minister Matt Wiebe wouldn’t say if First Nations were consulted on the plan, but says consultations are ongoing.

He says last week’s announcement was just the first step in the process.

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