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

Semiahmoo students to raise awareness about acid throwing

The Grade 11 students are to host a fundraiser for victims

Maritimers bring taste of Atlantic Ocean to South Surrey

Maritime Seafoods owner says they cut out the middleman

VIDEO: Surrey Vaisakhi Parade floods Newton streets

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the annual event

Four Surrey students head to New Brunswick for Canada-wide science fair

Three projects move to nationals following regional fair at KPU

VAISAKHI EXPLAINED: Founding of the Khalsa was a seminal event in Sikh history

There are five K’s – articles of faith – worn by baptized Sikhs

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Most Read