Thursday, October 6, 2011

Inquiry about ignoring marginalized women ignores marginalized women

Inquiry about ignoring marginalized women ignores marginalized women: BCCLA and Amnesty International Canada have now pulled out of the Murdered and Missing Women Inquiry. By my count, that's 14 organizations out.

Important to note that Amnesty was not, and has never, sought funding for counsel to participate in this inquiry - they're pulling out (as is the BCCLA) over concerns for the safety, both legal and otherwise, of marginalized women who need to be at the table for the Inquiry, but will not be.

Say what you wish about blood sucking lawyers, but the reality is that there are 18 government funded lawyers, at a minimum, at this Inquiry. 14 funded lawyers have been given to police, police officers and government. 2 funded lawyers have been given to family members, and 2 have been given to the community. That's a ratio of funded government lawyers to funded community lawyers of either 4:1 or 7:1, depending on where you see the community beginning and ending.

But here's where the real problem lives.

21 organizations and 17 family members got together to write and ask the Premier to intervene and fix the problem, and to write back by yesterday, Oct 5. The letter response came a day late, from the Solicitor General, not the Premier, and says, among other things: "We understand that counsel to the Commissioner has said he is satisfied that the Commission's mandate can be fulfilled in this light."

So, in short, thanks for coming out all you Downtown Eastside residents, sex workers current and former, human rights groups, women's groups, First Nations groups, but the lawyer for the Commissioner says that things are just fine, and that's good enough for us.

Reminds me of a time when women were coming forward telling the Police Board, and others, there was a problem, not with an Inquiry, but with a lack of inquiry into their missing and murdered friends and family members. The Police said there was no serial killer, and that was good enough for the Police Board and government at the time.

Turns out, it probably still would be.

Read a chronological list of what's gone wrong to date in the Inquiry, and why groups are so upset about this process, here.

You can protest the lack of accountability of this Commission of Inquiry to the DTES community, vulnerable and margalized women across BC, and Indigenous communities both on and off reserve Tuesday Oct 11 at 10:00 a.m. at 701 West Georgia out front of the hearings.

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