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

Chilliwack Chiefs erase three goal deficit in overtime win

Down 3-0 to the Cowichan Capitals, the Chiefs came back to win 4-3 in the BCHL Showcase match.

Chilliwack man feeling helpless about puppy stolen while at church

Evidence of neighbour trespassing and accusing him of dog neglect not enough for RCMP

UPDATE: Missing Chilliwack man has been found

Chilliwack RCMP is thanking the public for keeping an eye out

UPDATED: Chilliwack councillor’s expenses being sent to the RCMP

Decision to have expenses audited and shared with RCMP taken at special meeting of council

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read