Political support for a national inquiry into the tragic scandal of missing and murdered Aboriginal women grew last month as nine provinces jointly called upon the federal government to conduct an extensive investigation into the issue.

Aboriginal affairs ministers from every province and territory except British Columbia met in Winnipeg to address the need for an inquiry. Several organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), have made repeated calls for a public inquiry into the cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women. According to the NWAC, there are over 600 such cases in Canada.

Although pressure for an inquiry continues to mount from these groups, as well as from federal opposition parties and Human Rights Watch, the Conservative government instead opted for a special parliamentary committee to study the issue.

In a press conference last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was “skeptical” about the merits of a commission of inquiry into the fate of these Aboriginal women.

“My experience has been they almost always run way over time, way over budget, and often the recommendations prove to be of limited utility,” said Harper.

Harper’s comments came on the same day that the civilian watchdog overseeing the RCMP announced an investigation into allegations that the force’s officers systematically abused Aboriginal women and girls in northern BC.