Robert-Falcon Ouellette, for the third consecutive year, is the Uniter 30’s favourite local politician. The Member of Parliament (MP) for Winnipeg Centre, sworn in on Nov. 16, 2015, remains a significant political figure.
Prompted by the killings of Indigenous women in Sagkeeng First Nation in 2017 and The Pas in 2015, Ouellette issued a statement in the House of Commons on May 4, 2017.
“My aunts, cousins, daughter, and friends are beautiful. They are courageous, humble, intelligent, loving, respectful, honest, hard-working. They deserve additional protection of our laws so people think twice before they destroy lives,” the Ouellette statement reads.
Ouellette, originally from Red Pheasant First Nation in Saskatchewan, spoke the statement in Cree.
He provided English and French translations to Parliament, but Parliament did not provide real-time translation of the Cree statement to his fellow MPs.
On June 8, 2017, Ouellette argued that his parliamentary privileges were violated in an address to the House of Commons.He believes that Aboriginal and treaty rights recognized in the Constitution Act, 1982 means Indigenous languages have an equal right to translation services as English and French in Parliament, the statement reads.
House of Commons speaker Geoff Regan ruled against providing immediate translation, saying Parliament lacked the “technical and physical capacity” to offer that level of service in an address to the House of Commons on June 20, 2017.
Ouellette was not pleased with the ruling from his fellow Liberal caucus member.
“I really think the Speaker lost an opportunity to really make a historic ruling, to be a champion for indigenous people,” Ouellette told HuffPost Canada.
The Uniter was not able to reach Ouellette for comment as of press time.
Published in Volume 72, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 30, 2017)