Thanks to you the BC Civil Liberties Association has made incredible gains in 2014. Because of your support, we’ve been able to sustain and expand our work for human rights and democratic freedoms. Here’s just some of what we’ve achieved together in the past year:
In the Courts
Right now, we’re involved in more than 40 court cases aimed at protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians. We accomplish this work through the generous help of dozens of pro bono lawyers across the country. Here are just three of those important cases.
Carter v. Canada: The Death with Dignity Case
The BCCLA believes that Canadians who are suffering unbearably at the end of life should have the right to choose a dignified and peaceful death.
After three long years in court, we took our Death with Dignity case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada on October 15th, 2014. After decades of work on this issue, we now await the Court’s ruling.
Watch Elayne Shapray talk about her commitment to this case.
Equal Citizenship for All Canadians
Bill C-24 turned Canadian citizenship law upside down, shattering two key democratic principles: the permanence of citizenship and the equality of all citizens before the law. The new law will make citizenship harder to obtain and will create a tier of second-class Canadians whose citizenship can be revoked.
We will not stand by while the foundations of Canadian citizenship are threatened. The BCCLA and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) have committed to launching a legal challenge to the citizenship amendments.
Learn more about our citizenship campaign here.
CBSA Accountability and Justice for Lucía
In December of 2013, Lucía Vega Jiménez tragically lost her life while in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency. The silence and secrecy that followed from the CBSA raised the alarm among the public.
The BCCLA called for and then participated in the coroner’s inquest into the death of Ms. Vega Jiménez. The jury adopted nearly all of the BCCLA’s recommendations.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that these recommendations will compel the CBSA to change. It took investigative journalism to reveal that at least nine individuals have died in CBSA custody since 2000. The inaction and secrecy of one of Canada’s security authorities is shocking and unacceptable. In 2015, the BCCLA will push for CBSA accountability and oversight.
Learn more about our CBSA accountability campaign here.
In Our Communities
The BCCLA is continually working to empower the public through education and advocacy. Here are just a few of our successes from 2014:
- Provided direct assistance to almost 2000 people with civil rights complaints, with a particular focus on complaints involving police and privacy issues
- Reached thousands of people at more than 40 free public education events nationwide, including Know Your Protest Rights workshops held across BC’s north from Prince George to Haida Gwaii
- Distributed thousands of copies of free public education resources, including our new report More Than We Can Afford: The Costs of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing. Be sure also to check out our More Than We Can Afford webinar!
In 2015: Building on the Successes of Our Legal Observers
This is no time to slow down! The BCCLA’s work on Burnaby Mountain reminded us of the power of our Legal Observers program for protecting freedom of expression.
The Legal Observers witnessed the arrest of anti-pipeline protesters and helped the BCCLA to conclude that many of these arrests may have been illegitimate. Days later, our conclusion was confirmed when a BC Supreme Court judge threw out dozens of civil contempt charges.
The BCCLA’s highly successful Legal Observers program was launched to monitor the actions of police and security officers during the 2010 Olympics. But because project funding ran out more than two years ago, this vital program has had to be scaled down, operating on a shoestring budget off the sides of our desks.
Thanks to the support of our donors, our Legal Observers will be back in full force! Sign up on our volunteer page to be kept up to date, or donate here to help us revive the program.
We Can’t Thank You Enough
As the oldest and most active human rights and civil liberties organization in Canada, the BCCLA vows to keep pressing for positive change and creating powerful, lasting impacts.Thank you to our donors, supporters, volunteers, pro bono counsel, family and friends for making our work possible.
We can’t wait to see what we’ll achieve together in 2015!
Josh Paterson, Executive Director,
and the BCCLA team
I have been trying to file a complaint against CSIS for 30 years but
no response from nobody. Canadian Human Rights Commission and SIRC
told me to get lost and hung up on me over the phone. Jack Layton wanted a public inquiry but he is dead. I heard from the Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews but gave no information regarding CSIS.
I received an apology from the Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I want a public inquiry and financial compensation from the federal government. I was tortured by CSIS through racism and bigotry and put in mental health on medication for 25 years. I was homeless in 1989. Their is no record of me being in the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital. I was locked up in solidary confinement for 24 hours 3 different times at different locations in Ontario and British Columbia not allowed to use the washroom for 24 hours. I was given injections 3 different times. I had a nervous breakdown because CSIS wanted me assassinated and harassed by police. All of my civil
rights were violated. CSIS, the media, and all 3 levels of government violated my right to privacy and confidentiality for almost 30 years. I blame CSIS, the media, mental health, the police
and the government for putting me in mental health and me having open heart surgery 20 months ago. I have no money, no friends and no job. I studied computer science, criminology and sociology at the community college and university. I have no criminal record or no history of drug abuse. I was discriminated against in housing, education, employment, customer service and government services for over 30 years. I have never had a full time job in my life just temporary full time work. I was laid off most of my life and on UI benefits and welfare despite with a university education. My brother is dead as well as my best friend. Today I have no friends, no job and no money. I live with my mother on ODSP. I have to move out of my mothers place because we are not getting along in the new year and I could be homeless once again. I have no money to get a place and I cannot work because I had open heart surgery. I want the media, CSIS, the police and government indicted
on illegal spying, abuse of power, torture, corruption, conspiracy, treason, subversion, terrorism, foreign influence, espionage and racism and bigotry. I want justice.