Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 4, 2002
John Manley takes over residential schools portfolio
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Prime Minister Jean Chretien's recent cabinet shuffle has temporarily put on hold any talks between churches and the federal government aimed at resolving lawsuits filed by alleged victims of residential school abuses.
John Manley, who took over the post of deputy prime minister in the cabinet shuffle Jan. 15, told Canadian Catholic News he is "picking up the file" left by his predecessor Herb Gray.
But Manley added as he left the House of Commons following its first sitting of 2002, "As you know, an offer was made by the government and I'd like to know exactly where the churches stand and I'll have to talk to them."
Former Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray had been handling discussions with the churches that started in September 2000 and broke down last fall when the government unilaterally decided to pay 70 per cent of the cost of abuse claims reached out of court.
The churches, through The Ecumenical Group on Residential Schools, had proposed a "significant" cash contribution for compensation, the establishment of healing and reconciliation projects, a commitment to continued work in aboriginal communities and an "alternative redress model."
On Jan. 11, three days before the cabinet shuffle, the Church group announced it had asked Gray to agree to a mediator to kick-start talks between the government and the churches.
About 8,500 former students of the schools have launched more than 4,500 lawsuits against the government and the churches.