The six women Robert Pickton was convicted of killing: Brenda Wolfe

More groups abandon Missing Women Inquiry

Criticism of funding intensifies on eve of hearings

Two more groups have pulled out of the Missing Women Inquiry, citing the provincial government’s refusal to pay for lawyers.

Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) said they will not participate when hearings begin in Vancouver Oct. 11.

Several other public interest groups representing women or aboriginals that had been granted standing before the inquiry previously refused to participate.

Critics say lawyers must be provided for groups representing vulnerable women if they are to put tough questions to police and government officials on why it took so long to catch serial killer Robert Pickton.

Otherwise, they say, the inquiry is stacked in favour of the authorities, who will be well-defended by publicly funded lawyers when called to testify.

“This Commission of Inquiry is grappling with critical concerns about access to justice and human rights protection for some of the most marginalized communities in the province,” Amnesty International Canada representative Alex Neve said.

“But it is going forward in a manner that only adds to that longstanding sense of exclusion and discrimination.”

Neve said the organization could not stay on board and send the signal it supports the process.

“We are going to dedicate our efforts to processes where calls for respect and voices of concern can be heard,” added Robert Holmes, lawyer with the BCCLA.

Commissioner Wally Oppal had fought for increased funding from Victoria but was unsuccessful.

The inquiry ended up reshuffling its budget to hire four lawyers to represent various interests, a move opponents call inadequate.

The government has “lavished all its resources on one side – that of the police and bureaucrats,” Holmes said.

Some of the families and friends of Pickton’s victims are worried the inquiry will be hampered in its search for answers.

Just Posted

Parents cross over painting job on 6 Ave. crosswalks

Crosswalks, not painted since September, are a safety concern for two parents

Yale First Nation project preserves elders’ memories and recipes

Community members are encouraged to share their traditional food recipes by Feb. 28

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

Driver of vehicle down 90-foot embankment rescued on Highway 5 near Hope

Rope rescue conducted on mutual-aid call with Chilliwack SAR, Hope SAR and Agassiz fire department

UPDATE: Missing Dawson Creek man found, RCMP confirm

33-year-old Jeremiah Alexander Smith’s vehicle was abandoned near Hope Feb. 14

VIDEO: B.C. superfans soak in 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Trio, including two from the Okanagan, have been cheering on Summerland Olympian Kripps among others in Korea

More snow expected on the Coquihalla, Highway 3

Environment Canada says five to 10 centimetres will come down between Friday and Saturday mornings

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Alberta drops B.C. wine boycott, Notley says Horgan ‘blinked’ on pipeline

B.C. government announces court reference on proposed diluted bitumen restriction

Lane closures on Alex Fraser, Port Mann bridges considered to avoid ‘ice bombs’

Province spent $5 million clearing both bridges last years

UPDATE: Northern Health dealing with lack of 121 registered nurses

Auditor General says officials need to improve internal management, track effect of new policies

B.C. businesses say new health tax will raise prices for consumers

Province announced that MSP will be gone by 2020

Most Read