Government introduces legislation that will re-establish a human rights commission in B.C.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby has introduced legislation that would bring in human rights commission.
B.C. Attorney General David Eby has introduced legislation that would bring in human rights commission. Chad Hipolito/CP

The B.C. government has introduced legislation that lays the groundwork for the province to bring back its human rights commission. The proposed amendments would create an independent body to examine discrimination in B.C. and create tools to help the public deal with inequality.

B.C. is the only province in the country without a human rights commission. The commission was disbanded by the governing BC Liberals in 2002.

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“Today we are putting an end to that dubious distinction,” said Attorney General David Eby.

“This is a commitment by our government to choose a side in this fight for equality and human rights, to stand on the side of fair treatment, equal opportunities and to remove barriers for all British Columbians.”

Since 2002 the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has dealt with human rights complaints.

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The proposed legislation follows an eight-week public engagement, conducted in fall 2017, that asked British Columbians what they want most from a human rights commission.

“Our province without doubt is in need of an independent body that is focused solely on promoting and protecting human rights,” said Eby.

“Education, information and awareness are key components to preventing human rights abuses.”

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Fort Nelson First Nation member Sarah Robinson spoke at a media conference Thursday to mark the introduction of the legislation.

Robinson said a crucial part of the legislation is the protection of Indigenous women and girls against human rights abuses.

“We must specifically acknowledge historic and contemporary discrimination of Indigenous women by specifically creating space for us in the path forward,” said Robinson.

“In all of this good work it is crucial that attention be paid to those of use who continue to experience human rights violations at exponential and unacceptable rates, and that is Indigenous women and girls.”