The Conservatives will support a public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, says interim leader Rona Ambrose.
Her comments mark a stunning reversal of the position taken by the Conservatives under Stephen Harper, who repeatedly rebuffed growing calls for a national inquiry, saying the government action on crime precluded the need for further studies.
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"If the Liberal government wants to do an inquiry, and they think that's an important thing to do, I will support it," said Ambrose during an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.
Ambrose said she met with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould today.
"Our approach was always, let's not study it, let's take more action. If this government wants to do this study, we will support it.… I said to her, I'll support you in any way," Ambrose told host Rosemary Barton.
"This is an absolutely non-partisan issue," she said.
Change in tone?
Ambrose's support for a national inquiry comes as the party looks to send a message of renewal following its demotion to Official Opposition status.
A record 10 indigenous MPs were elected to the House of Commons on Oct. 19, but none were elected under the Conservative Party banner. The Liberals elected eight, the NDP two.
The outcome marked a significant shift away from the Conservatives, who once had four sitting indigenous MPs — the most of any party.
Aboriginal activists who spent months mobilizing First Nations communities during the election campaign said that policy changes made by the Harper government fuelled a high voter turnout — so high that some reserves ran out of ballots.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his pledge to "immediately" launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, a day after he was elected to lead a majority Liberal government.
He also vowed to implement all of the recommendations stemming from a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which included the launch of an inquiry.
Earlier this week, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair reaffirmed his party's commitment "to building a new era of nation-to-nation relationship" with First Nations, starting with a public inquiry.
Aboriginal women continue to be overrepresented among Canada's missing and murdered women, according to a report made public by the RCMP in June.
While the Harper government resisted calling an inquiry, last September it tabled a $25-million plan over five years to address violence against aboriginal women and girls.
The plan included funding to support aboriginal communities and projects that would raise awareness to prevent violence against aboriginal women.
The Conservatives also promised an RCMP database on missing persons and unidentified remains, which they touted as "concrete action."
However, the project is still incomplete and far over budget five years after it was announced.
In 2008, Harper stood in the House of Commons where he delivered a historic speech apologizing for the Canadian government's treatment of indigenous children in residential schools.