Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon (Black Press)

B.C. calls for input on restored Human Rights Commission

Commission to focus on education to prevent racism, sexism

Fifteen years after the B.C. Human Rights Commission was shut down by the B.C. Liberal government, the NDP government is taking the first steps to bring it back.

Attorney General David Eby and Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon, parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism, launched a consultation website Wednesday to gather input on the new office, which will augment the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

“We have a Human Rights Tribunal that adjudicates individual cases, and I think has done a fairly effective job,” Kahlon said. “The focus of the commission will be more of a proactive body that looks to educate and prevent discrimination, racism, sexism.”

Eby said the rise of racism and intolerance south of the border and around the world is a reminder that human rights work is not done.

“And we don’t have to look as far a the United States when it comes to hate and intolerance,” Eby said. “It’s in Richmond, for example, with racist flyers, racist graffiti.”

Kelsey Lavoie, who works for the Vancouver Island Human Rights Coalition, said her non-profit does similar work on a small scale, with hers the only paid position funded by grants from B.C. Lottery Corp. funds.

Lavoie helps people who believe they have been discriminated against apply to the tribunal for a ruling. The application forms are supposed to be accessible, but people with mental illness have difficulty on their own when they face discrimination, she said.