For Immediate Release
VANCOUVER – On May 23, 2019 a broad alliance of groups and individuals issued a joint letter to BC’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, urging him not to pass Bill 13 – the Community Safety Amendment Act – and not to bring 2013’s Community Safety Act into force.
“The voices behind this letter have much experience – including lived experience – with protecting and enhancing the safety of the most marginalized members of our community, in particular Indigenous women and girls” said Meghan McDermott, Staff Counsel with the BCCLA. “We are all very familiar with how laws passed with the best of intentions can end up being used to hurt the very people that the government sets out to support.”
The signatories are deeply troubled by the legislation, which will allow neighbours to report their suspicions about specified activities to government, triggering a process that can result in a court order that people vacate a property.
The Community Safety Act, if passed, could be used to circumvent other laws such as the Residential Tenancy Act and the Criminal Code, which already have provisions to deal with properties where criminal activities are adversely affecting others, and which have much better procedural safeguards for tenants and property owners alike.
The signatories to the letter fear that the Community Safety Act will provide a major disincentive to British Columbians to provide support and shelter to their friends and family who may be struggling with addiction or have recently been released from incarceration. In other jurisdictions with have similar laws, the legislation has been used to target entire households in which all members are law-abiding except for one.
“In the context of growing racial tensions in BC, and throughout Canada, these laws leave open an avenue for targeted harassment driven by racism and other forms of prejudice” said Meenakshi Mannoe, Community Educator at Pivot Legal Society. “This legislation will disproportionately impact vulnerable, and often over-policed, communities which are already overrepresented in the criminal justice system, including Black and Indigenous communities.”
Meghan McDermott, BCCLA Staff Counsel, at [email protected] (778) 783-3011
Meenakshi Mannoe, Community Educator at Pivot Legal Society, [email protected] 604-255-9700