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  • Winnipeg Tribune

Premier Stefanson Fires Back at Federal Minister Miller's Public Comments

Thursday, July 13, 2023 - Premier Stefanson responded to comments made by federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller on the Prairie Green Landfill situation today in a statement, calling them more than unfortunate. When judgment and sensitivity are required, he has chosen to inflame and distort, said the Premier.

The Premier's statement read:

The victims of this horrific tragedy – Rebecca Contois, Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran and Buffalo Woman – will never be forgotten. At every stage, in public statements, private meetings and discussions, I have extended our deepest condolences to the families grieving and enduring their unimaginable loss. I have done so on behalf of all Manitobans. These circumstances are deeply personal to me, as a mother and as a parent.

I have met with the families and Manitoba ministers have separately met with the families.

As the premier of Manitoba, however, I also have other responsibilities. These have required that government address difficult considerations on the viability of a search of the Prairie Green Landfill. Based on an objective review of these issues, we have made the difficult decision that such a search is not viable. There can plainly be no guarantees on the outcome of an exceedingly challenging and complex search, and the immediate and longer-term human safety and workplace risks involved cannot be ignored.

The integrity of the pending justice proceedings against the alleged killer is also an ever-present consideration here in Manitoba.

Our government continues to extend supports to the families, to provide professional assistance through an unimaginable grieving process. We have also expressed our commitment to support an appropriate memorial for the victims.

More broadly, our government continues to enhance our comprehensive approach to preventing awful tragedies like this one, in consultation with Indigenous leadership, the families and other levels of government. We want to build on what we have done already, through additional investments to address violence against Indigenous women and girls. This includes law enforcement work on domestic and partner abuse, other exploitation, and collaboration and investments in mental health and addictions supports, and addressing homelessness.

Manitoba officials have already broached these areas, including additional potential collaboration around waste management surveillance with federal officials. Rather than respond, directly or through his officials, Minister Miller has chosen recklessness.

What should not happen – must not happen – is the continuing politicization of this awful tragedy. This irresponsible approach can only compound the suffering of the families, inflame wider community issues and threaten matters already before the courts.


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