Woman to oversee investigation into alleged abuse in Val d'Or
A woman will be named the independent observer of an investigation into alleged police abuse of aboriginal women, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced Tuesday.
Couillard told reporters he's narrowed down the list of possibilities to two or three people and hopes to announce the appointment soon.
“We are in sync with our colleagues from the aboriginal communities that it should be a woman. We are dealing here with an issue that first and foremost involves women in a very vulnerable position, so we insisted and were rapidly in agreement on this -- that it should be a woman,” he said.
Eight Quebec provincial police officers have been suspended amid allegations of assault, sexual misconduct and other abuses of power against aboriginal women.
The alleged incidents are reported to have occurred in the northwestern Quebec town of Val d'Or over several years and were the subject of a Radio-Canada investigative report.
Montreal police have been tasked with investigating the allegations.
The watchdog should be announced shortly, said Couillard.
“This person is going to be announced soon, I hope. We have narrowed the list to only a few names, all of them extremely reputable persons with significant experience, and independence as well, which is very, very important,” he said.
Emotions have been running high ever since the allegations were made.
Couillard is scheduled to meet with the chief of the Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador on Wednesday in Montreal to discuss the allegations after First Nations chiefs demanded he meet with them.
They initially gave the premier 24 hours to meet, but have since softened their tone, agreeing to the Wednesday conference.
Native Affairs Minister Geoff Kelley has been to Val d'Or since the allegations became public, but Couillard has not yet made an appearance.
PQ leader Pierre Karl Peladeau visited Val d'Or on Monday to meet with Native leaders, and then wore a brown square in the National Assembly Tuesday to draw attention to violence against indigenous women.
Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau is temporarily handling the public security portfolio, while Public Security Minister Lise Theriault – who came under fire for how she handled the abuse allegations – is now on leave for health reasons. Under doctor's orders, she won't return for at least six weeks.
With a report from The Canadian Press