The BCCLA will join grassroots downtown eastside groups at a press conference Wednesday to announce the formal response of community groups to the refusal of the Attorney General to fund the participation of survival sex trade workers and aboriginal people, among others, in the murdered and missing women inquiry.
“Refusing to follow a Commissioner’s funding recommendations in a public inquiry is unprecedented, so far as we can tell,” said Robert Holmes, President of the BCCLA. “This inquiry must hear from survival sex trade workers, aboriginal people and Downtown Eastside residents – how the government expects these groups to participate without funding when the police and government need to be fully funded to participate is a mystery to us.”
Teams of taxpayer funded lawyers are already participating for various government side groups including current and former Vancouver Police Department officers, the RCMP, the Criminal Justice Branch and the Commission itself, which includes former Attorney General Wally Oppal.
“The Attorney General is refusing to support the participation of the exact organizations most likely to hold the government responsible for decisions made that led to the deaths of these women,” said Holmes. “They are recreating the barriers to participation that led to this disaster in the first place.”
The BCCLA is currently meeting with other affected groups to discuss the appropriate response to the government’s decision. The BCCLA has already raised concerns about the limited terms of reference and the perceived conflict of interest of the Commissioner, Wally Oppal, who was previously Attorney General and who raised concerns among community groups by saying there is little to be learned in a public inquiry on this matter.
Press conference: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.
Interurban Gallery, 1 East Hastings Street at Carrall Street
Robert Holmes, President, 604-838-6856
David Eby, Executive Director, 604-630-9752 or 778-865-7997