Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree says the federal government is about to unveil a plan in response to calls for a search of a Manitoba landfill for the remains of two First Nations women found dead. He believes they were murdered by a suspected serial killer.
“This is a long-term problem for us,” Anandasangaree told Breaking: on Friday.
“We will make a decision very soon.”
Anandasangaree said Ottawa is willing to support the search, but needs Manitoba to come on board.
“We are not having a mature conversation with the different levels of government about how to get to the right place,” he said.
“We need the province of Manitoba to be at the table.”
Anandasangaree has been under pressure to fund a search of the Prairie Green landfill since taking office in late July.
Cambria Harris, the daughter of Morgan Harris, one of two women whose remains are believed to be buried somewhere in the sprawling landfill, left a meeting with Anandasangaree in Ottawa on September 18. She said she turned her back on the meeting. because the minister did not firmly commit to carrying out a search.
“I recognize how frustrating it can be,” Anandasangaree said. “Unfortunately, we were not able to get clarity in that meeting, but we are definitely working on a solution that will come to light imminently.”
Winnipeg police say they believe the bodies of Harris and Marcedes Myran are somewhere at the private landfill north of Winnipeg.
The federal government funded a feasibility study but has not made a firm commitment to pay for the search. The study said a search could cost between $84 million and $184 million and could take one to three years.
“Deeply offensive and deeply worrying”
Anandasangaree said he is very concerned about how the issue is playing out in Manitoba’s provincial election campaign. Campaigning Progressive Conservatives have run ads and billboards touting their opposition to a search.
“It is deeply offensive, deeply troubling and deeply painful to the families that this is being politicized in a way that re-traumatizes family members and the community,” he said.
A Progressive Conservative Party sign in Winnipeg reads: “Stand firm against the unsafe excavation of a $184 million landfill.”
Myran’s sister, Jorden Myran, said the ads create another level of pain for her family.
“It’s hard enough having to stand in front of these cameras and cry while I fight to get her home,” he said.
“I don’t need things added to what I’m fighting for.”
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said she can’t imagine what it feels like to be a member of a family waking up to political ads talking about their loved ones.
“I would say using families as a political wedge is the lowest form of politics I can imagine,” Hajdu told the CBC show. Home in an interview broadcast Saturday.
Kevin Klein, the Progressive Conservative MLA running for re-election in Kirkfield Park, insisted his party is not trying to create a divisive issue.
“I think our premier and our PC team wanted to make sure we were clear and transparent with all Manitobans,” Klein said.
“We believe we made the right decision.
The entire PC group supports our Prime Minister, Heather Stefanson, in the decision made.”
Chief Kyra Wilson of Long Plain First Nation, Myran and Harris’ home community, told CBC rosemary barton live The ruling party’s use of the landfill search issue for political purposes is an act of desperation.
“It’s disgusting,” Wilson said in an interview that will air Sunday.
Wilson said he believes a final decision on searching for the landfill will be made after the Oct. 3 provincial election.
Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham also denounced the politicization of the search and said a definitive response is needed from the federal and provincial governments.
“If that is indeed the case, that the federal minister has some clear news in the coming weeks, I think everyone would appreciate that,” Gillingham told CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live.