Erin O’Toole kicked off his first question period as Conservative leader Wednesday by pressing the Liberal government to do more to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
The strategy won O’Toole praise from the prime minister he hopes to replace, who later pointedly called Conservative interest in the file a “long time coming.”
O’Toole, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month and had been away from the House of Commons while isolating, was given a rousing applause from MPs when he rose from his seat. The Tory leader, whose wife has also recovered from the virus, took a moment to thank his colleagues and Canadians for the best wishes extended to his family.
Watch the exchange:
Sporting a bright orange tie to mark Orange Shirt Day, which commemorates the trauma endured by Indigenous peoples in residential schools, O’Toole accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being “all talk and no action” on reconciliation.
“Big announcements, no follow through,” O’Toole said. “Indigenous communities need the prime minister to roll up his sleeves and get down to work.”
The Tory leader asked why the government has not delivered on the 19th call to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Report into residential schools. It calls on the federal government to “establish measurable goals” to close gaps in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, from infant mortality and chronic diseases to mental health, and publish yearly progress reports.
Trudeau, who has pledged his government will fulfill all 94 calls to action in the TRC report, began by wishing O’Toole and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, who also recovered from COVID-19, a welcome back to the House.
“I look forward to exchanging, particularly on the topic of reconciliation,” Trudeau said. “I think there’s an awful lot we need to do across party lines on that, whether it’s passing UNDRIP legislation, whether it’s concretely...