AG’s ‘lack of commitment…is disturbing'
Open letter to Suzanne Anton: Attorney General of B.C.:
Re: Meeting with the Missing and Murdered Women Coalition.
We, the Coalition of Missing and Murdered Women, write you again with regard to your ministry’s response to the Oppal Inquiry recommendations. We have corresponded with you on numerous occasions.
As you are aware, the Missing and Murdered Coalition met with you in Nov. 25, 2013, after six months of meeting requests. At that meeting, the coalition provided a submission asking that you immediately act on five priority recommendations resulting from the Oppal Inquiry. At this meeting, you committed to providing answers to us by Dec. 25, 2013.
On Dec. 3, 2013, the coalition wrote a follow up letter asking you to clarify your comments that your government will likely not be able to implement some of the Oppal recommendations. On Dec. 20, you wrote to the coalition stating that ministry staff would be connecting to discuss the submission and opportunities for engagement to continue to work on the implementation of the MWCI recommendations.
On Jan. 15, 2014, the coalition asked for a response to the submission, in which we were once again told that ministry staff would be connecting with the Coalition further on this.
On Jan. 28, the coalition asked for a response to a second follow up e-mail sent by the coalition on Jan. 15, however, your office did not reply to our email.
The coalition called the Minister’s office on Feb. 5, 2014, and then we received an e-mail invite to meet with ADM Clayton Pecknold, Policing and Security Programs and ADM Lynda Cavanaugh, Community Safety and Crime Prevention Branch. Although Minister Anton was not scheduled to meet with the coalition, we moved forward to accept a meeting scheduled to take place on Feb. 25, at the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs boardroom in Vancouver.
We were extremely disappointed to learn that on Feb. 19, only days before this scheduled Feb. 25 meeting, the meeting was postponed without a follow-up date, and with no commitment, budget or timeline for the implementation of the recommendations from the Missing and Murdered Women Commission of Inquiry.
We have since reviewed the exchange in Question Period on Feb. 25, 2014 regarding the implementation of the Missing and Murdered Women Inquiry Recommendations. Question after question, you were asked to commit funding and provide a timeline for the implementation of the recommendations. Your lack of commitment to implement the recommendations is disturbing and unacceptable.
Specifically on the recommendation to provide a shuttle bus on Highway 16, the Highway of Tears, was a recommendation that came out of the 2006 Highway of Tears Symposium. Commissioner Oppal called on the government to “immediately commit” to developing such a system. It is extremely alarming to learn that you offered the same answer as your predecessor, Minister Shirley Bond and the former Minister of Transportation, Mary Polak, where they both said the government has been “consulting” on this recommendation.The consultation began in December, 2012 and it was supposed to be completed by the summer of 2013. It is now 2014, more than a year since the consultation and there is still no shuttle bus along the Highway of Tears.
Not only did you fail to provide a commitment to this urgent recommendation, there was no commitment made to any of the other four priority recommendations that were put to you. These include “the implementation of mental health and addiction programs for and by aboriginal women and youth; mandatory police sensitivity training; justice to victims’ families through a compensation fund and the appointment of a champion to implement the recommendations.”
We have waited far too long for resolution on matters related to the MWCI recommendations and we demand that immediate action be taken. We further request a new meeting date no later than March 31, 2014 so that we can discuss with you directly your response to these important matters.
We look forward to your positive response. Aboriginal Front Door Society.
Amnesty International Canada
Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution
Atira Women’s Resource Society
Battered Women’s Support Services
B.C Civil Liberties Association
Butterflies in Spirit
Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council
Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
Ending Violence Association British Columbia
Justice for Girls
Feb. 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee
First Nations Summit
National Congress of Black Women’s Foundation
PHS Community Services Society
Pivot Legal Society
Poverty and Human Rights Centre
Provincial Council of Women of BC
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs
Union Gospel Mission
Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter
West Coast LEAF
WISH Drop-in Centre Society
Women’s Equality and Security Coalition