Nfld. & Labrador

Federal election candidates want residential school trial settled out of court

As former residential school students from this province fight for an apology and compensation for abuse suffered in the 1950s and 60s, three federal candidates feel the lawsuit should be settled out of court.
Federal candidates in Newfoundland and Labrador are calling for the province's residential schools class-action lawsuit to be settled out of court. (CBC)

As former residential school students from this province fight for an apology and compensation for abuse suffered in the 1950s and 60s, three federal candidates feel the lawsuit should be settled out of court.

The trial began on Monday.

St. John's South-Mount Pearl Liberal candidate Seamus O'Regan. (CBC)
More than 1,000 aboriginals say they were abused in residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.

They're fighting for the same apology and compensation Ottawa gave other residential school victims across Canada in 2008. That's when Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized in the House of Commons.  However Inuit and Innu from this province were excluded. 

Liberal Seamus O'Regan, New Democrat Jack Harris and Conservative Peter Penashue all agree that the lawsuit should be settled by the federal government.

"Government shouldn't be wasting taxpayers' money fighting with people over matters like this," said St. John's East NDP candidate Harris.

"The same as you shouldn't be fighting over treaty rights or land claims issues. They should be resolved."

 Seamus O'Regan, who's running for the Liberals in St. John's South-Mount Pearl, went to school in Labrador, with children whose parents had gone to residential schools. .
St. John's East NDP MP Jack Harris. (CBC)

O'Regan said he saw first-hand the impact those schools had on generations of people.

He said the trial that began this week should be cut short, with an out-of-court settlement.

"We're looking here at a loophole, because these schools began before Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada," O'Regan said.

"And because of that, they do not get the settlement that other people in exactly the same position got." 

Labrador Conservative candidate Peter Penashue recently told CBC that it's time for the federal government to resolve the class action. However, he believes the Newfoundland and Labrador government should pay for at least some of any settlement.

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