BY RATTAN MALL
BRITISH Columbia will re-establish a human rights commission to fight inequality and discrimination in all its forms, Premier John Horgan announced on Friday.
British Columbia is the only province in Canada without a human rights commission. The previous commission was dismantled in 2002 in favour of a complaint-driven tribunal by the racist Liberal government under then-premier Gordon Campbell in spite of strong protests, and hypocritical former premier Christy Clark did nothing to re-establish it. No Liberal MLA spoke against the abolishment.
In fact, in January 2004, I asked then-NDP leader Carole James in an interview: “What do you think of the fact that not a single Indo-Canadian or Chinese-Canadian is of Cabinet rank [in Campbell’s ministry at the time]?” and she replied: “Well, I think it really makes a statement of what little regard this government has for multiculturalism in British Columbia and I think we saw that when they took office and eliminated the multicultural ministry and they eliminated the Human Rights Commission. I think they’ve made very clear statements about their lack of regard and I think the Cabinet shuffle today is one more (statement).”
Now, Horgan has decided to bring back the Human Rights Commission.
He said: “Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. By re-establishing a human rights commission, we will create a more-inclusive and just society, where we work together to eliminate inequality and prevent discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”
B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby said: “Building a better B.C. that is vibrant and full of opportunity starts with making sure everyone feels welcome to be a part of that future. Not only must we address discrimination when and where it happens, we must also educate, reach out, and take proactive steps to address systemic inequalities. I have asked Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon to lead the public consultation process and I look forward to receiving his recommendations.”
The consultation process will include both online and face-to-face meetings with British Columbians, stakeholders and human rights experts, and will seek to learn what a renewed human rights commission could look like. The consultation is expected to start this September and continue through the autumn months, with legislation expected to follow in 2018.
”I am honoured to be tasked with leading this consultation because British Columbians deserve a commission that best works for them and those they care about,” said Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon.