Legault announces Lafreniere to replace D'Amours as Indigenous affairs minister in shuffle
By Daniel J. Rowe
MONTREAL — Minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs Sylvie D'Amours is out, and Ian Lafreniere is in as the CAQ government shuffles its cabinet.
Premier Francois Legault made the announcement at at a news conference Friday.
The former Montreal police (SPVM) officer and MNA for Vachon, Lafreniere was the public affairs officer for the SPVM before entering politics and is currently chair of the Select Committee on the Sexual Exploitation of Minors.
"I would like to thank my colleague Sylvie D’Amours for her commitment to improve the quality of life of Indigenous peoples and to fight concretely against injustices and discrimination against them. I also thank Ian Lafrenière for accepting this new mandate. I have no doubts that he will be a valued ally by all indigenous peoples," said Legault in a statement.
The move comes after Legault refused to give his backing to D'Amours, who has been the target of immense criticism from opposition parties and the populace on various files, including her response to the recent death of Joyce Echaquan, the Atikamekw woman who died in Joliette Hospital after being taunted by hospital staff.
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador said it was pleased with the appointment with some resignation.
"This is an opportunity to renew relations that have been damaged in recent months between the government and First Nations," an AFNQL news release reads. "This appointment, however, should not relieve the Premier from his primary responsibility."
AFNQL regional chief Ghislain Picard reminded the new minister that there are several emergencies that require immediate action, including the inquiry into Echaquan's death, moose hunting incursions in the La Verendrye wildlife reserve and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Picard is calling on the premier to do more.
"We are clearly at a crossroads in our relationship, and a change of minister will not be enough to change them. Premier Legault needs to be more invested," said Picard.
Lafreniere speaks both English and French - D'Amours speaks only French - and is seen as having a better understanding of the urban reality of Indigenous people.
International Relations Minister and Minister of Immigration, Francization and Integration Nadine Girault has also been assigned responsibility for the Laurentians region.
CJAD 800s Natasha Hall speaks to Will Prosper, an activist and former police officer