Bare arms for women, no ties for men and Indigenous and religious attire are all acceptable dress for the B.C. Legislature, according to a report released by the acting clerk this week.
The report was spawned by the controversy over female MLA’s “right to bare arms” – to wear sleeveless tops and dresses in the legislature.
In March, acting sergeant-at-arms Randy Ennis said members of his office’s staff were enforcing a decades-old rule about proper attire in the legislature. A subsequent preliminary review of the legislature’s dress code said women could wear sleeveless dresses and shirts.
In Tuesday’s report from the acting clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd, she said while “professional contemporary business attire” is still expected of all members of the legislature, there needs to be an understanding that the particulars of that will change along with social norms.
This means “for women, professional business attire includes a range of contemporary conventional options, which may include sleeveless dresses, sleeveless shirts, and blouses.”
The dress code controversy extended beyond MLAs, when reporters and staffers in the legislature were also told to cover up.
Deputy Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said a woman on her staff was told to wear a slip under a dress deemed too clingy by legislature officials.
“Heaven forbid people realize she has limbs under her skirt! The women in this building are here to work, not dress for outdated rules,” Furstenau posted on social media.
Outside the B.C. Legislature, former prime minister Kim Campbell stirred up controversy in 2018 when she said female journalists should not wear sleeveless dresses on television.