Strahl re-appointed to cabinet 

Pemberton’s MP has been re-appointed to cabinet.

Chuck Strahl, the six-term MP for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, which includes the Pemberton Valley, has been called back to his post as Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, a position responsible for relations between the federal government and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples within Canada.

He keeps the position after first being appointed in an August 2007 cabinet shuffle. Prior to that he served as Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister Responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, he said he’s happy to be back in his old job.

“It feels good to be back in the cabinet,” he said. “I think there’s 34 new MPs this time and some pretty good ones. There’s some former provincial ministers, there’s more provinces represented, all those things mean there’s a bigger pool for the Prime Minister to choose from.”

Though happy to be back in his job, Strahl now finds himself dealing with the fall-out from the resignation of Harry LaForme, the chair of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The commission was established as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the biggest class action settlement in Canadian history. The agreement established the commission as a way for survivors of residential schools to come forward, tell their stories and enter them into Canadian history.

The future of that commission, however, is now up in the air, as the chair resigned citing conflicts with the two remaining commissioners over whether to emphasize truth or reconciliation as part of its mandate.

Strahl said in the conference call that he “doesn’t have a date picked out” when a new commissioner will be chosen, because it’s not entirely his decision.

“This whole thing is a court-ordered process that involves the federal government, the Assembly of First Nations and the Churches,” he said.   “When Justice LaForme resigned, the supervising judges convened a meeting in Toronto… and all of the parties that were there, including all the people I mentioned, participated in a meeting with the supervising judges on how to proceed.”

That meeting, he said, confirmed that all affected parties need to move “quickly” to get a new chair for the commission.

“But it’s under the supervision of those judges,” he said. “They’re not talking about it, there’s kind of a hush, hush about how they’re proceeding, that means there’s a process ongoing that will quickly find a new chair.”

The first of the TRC’s national events is expected to happen in January in British Columbia, though it has not yet been established where it will take place within the province.

Strahl didn’t seem certain whether the event would go ahead when asked about it, but he also said it’s for the TRC and its two remaining commissioners to decide.

“The TRC runs its own business,” he said. “It doesn’t ask me for permission or hi, how are you, they run their own world.

“With the resignation, the decision making ability is hampered, so we want to get that chairperson in place as quickly as possible.”

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