October 13, 2016 - 6:54 AM
HALIFAX - The inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and the way forward on legalizing marijuana are on the agenda for justice and public ministers meeting with their federal counterparts in Halifax, Ralph Goodale said Thursday.
As he headed into the two-day gathering, the federal public safety minister said the review process on implementing Ottawa's plan to legalize marijuana was going well but in the early stages.
"It's making really good progress...and I think all ministers will be anxious to see the outcome of that process," Goodale said. "There's a great deal of consensus, but this is still in the process of gathering input...but the mood around the table is excellent."
Anne McLellan, health and justice minister in Jean Chretien's Liberal government, is leading the review and is expected to produce a report by the end of the year.
The ministers will also likely get an update on the national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, launched by the federal government and due to take about two years at a cost of at least $53.8 million.
Independent commissioners will provide concrete recommendations to federal, provincial and territorial governments about how to deal with the disproportionate rates of violence and crime against Canada's indigenous women and girls.
Andrew Parsons, justice minister for Newfoundland and Labrador, said he was also hoping to discuss an initiative being tried in Ontario and the Yukon to help victims of sexual assault navigate the legal system.
Parsons says he wants to look at having legal support in place for victims from the time they give statements to when they testify on the stand, and said he's consulting with officials in Ontario to get it off the ground in his province.
"Many victims of sexual assault, when they get in the system, they feel adrift," he said on his way into the meeting. "In many ways, they feel alone and we'd like to be able to do more to assist them."
Parsons said the ministers, who last met in January, will also discuss delays in the court system after an Edmonton judge recently stayed a first-degree murder charge because it took more than five years to get to trial.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016