OTTAWA — Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has apologized after telling an NDP MP to listen to her father about supporting a Conservative bill to protect matrimonial rights on reserves.
Valcourt made the comment in response to criticisms from MP Niki Ashton, whose father Steve Ashton is a cabinet minister in the Manitoba government.
Manitoba has said it supports the Conservative bill, which aims to allow spouses living both on and off reserves the same rights to claim a share of the family’s assets in the event of a marriage breakdown.
At committee hearings on the bill Tuesday, Ashton told Valcourt and Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose to pay more attention to First Nations demands for a national inquiry into violence against aboriginal women.
“Maybe you should be listening to your father,” Valcourt responded.
“The legislative assembly of Manitoba ….exhorted us to pass Bill S-2. If there is a province where there is an important aboriginal community, First Nations, who is experiencing serious issues and problems, it is Manitoba among others.”
Ashton immediately responded that she was “offended” by Valcourt’s reference to her father.