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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey’s Johnston Heights reporting COVID-19 exposure

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

Surrey denturist goes mobile

Dr. Sarwar Sarwari, of True Fit Denture Centre, has had the van up and running for a month

White Rock Playhouse, Bell Centre lit up red in support of entertainment workers

Facilities across Canada participated in national Light Up Live movement on Sept. 22

New 10-bed substance use program opens in Surrey

It’s described as a ‘soft landing’ for people who are coming out of detox

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read