B.C. ending immigration detention arrangement with CBSA, citing human rights

Will be interesting too see if Quebec and Nova Scotia follow suit:

British Columbia is ending an agreement with Canada Border Services Agency to hold immigration detainees in provincial correctional centres, saying the arrangement doesn’t align with its stance on human rights.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said in a statement Thursday the province conducted a review that analyzed its contract with the agency, including public safety, and consulted with advocacy groups.

“The review brought to light that aspects of the arrangement do not align with our government’s commitment to upholding human rights standards or our dedication to pursuing social justice and equity for everyone,” he said.

The report said the number of immigration detainees in provincial custody is declining but provincial jails are used to holding “high risk detainees.” It also noted that while CBSA compensates BC Corrections to hold detainees, it does not cover the total cost.

“This is a trend that is likely to continue given the overall reduction in the number of detainees in provincial custody. If the arrangement ended, these are resources that could be used to support BC Corrections’ clients, including individuals in custody with complex needs and behaviours,” it said.

The move comes following calls from the groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for B.C. to terminate its immigration detention contract with the federal government.

The groups released a report in June 2021 saying immigrants with no criminal charges against them are detained in holding centres, federal prisons or provincial jails for “indeterminate amounts of time.” They launched a campaign calling on B.C. to end its contract last October, and later expanded their push to Quebec and Nova Scotia.

“Canada is among the few countries in the global north with no legal limit on the duration of immigration detention, meaning people can be detained for months or years with no end in sight,” the groups said in a joint news release following the announcement. “British Columbia’s decision is a major milestone on the path to ending immigration detention in provincial jails in Canada.”

Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, said in the statement that she commends B.C. on being the first province to make the decision, calling ita “momentous step.”

“This is a true human rights victory, one which upholds the dignity and rights of people who come to Canada in search of safety or a better life,” she said.

Farnworth said BC Corrections will be providing CBSA with 12 months’ notice as is required under its current contract.

The human rights groups said BC Corrections has told them the province will give the agency official written notice to terminate the contract next week.

Source: B.C. ending immigration detention arrangement with CBSA, citing human rights

Douglas Todd: B.C.’s housing-addicted economy not sustainable, experts fear

Same could be said for Canada as a whole. Good observations by those quoted in the article (Don Wright, David Williams, Stephen Punwasi):

B.C.’s economy is not as healthy as it might appear, since it relies too much on housing and newcomers to keep it above water, say prominent economists and analysts.

The real estate sector makes up a much larger section of the B.C. economy than in the rest of the country. The B.C. economy is heavily reliant on large-scale flows of people arriving each year from other provinces and countries, say the specialists.

They maintain B.C. has not been effective at developing its resources, businesses and industrial capacity in a way that increases wages and improves productivity. This B.C. phenomenon, going on for two decades, puts demand pressure on housing prices.

Don Wright, former head of B.C.’s civil service, says there is a general feeling among British Columbians that the economy is healthy because unemployment is relatively low and government revenues stable.

But there is a distinct possibility the economy is not sustainable, Wright says.

B.C.’s trade deficit has been growing steadily since 2005. The province, he said, is “spending about $28 billion more per year than we are earning.”

Both Wright and David Williams, senior policy analyst for the Business Council of B.C., say the provincial economy is too dependent on large-scale in-migration to bring in capital, which fuels the housing sector and props up spending on goods and services.

Last year, according to the B.C. government, the province welcomed a record 100,000 new people. About 33,000 came from other provinces, which is the highest amount in three decades. The other 67 per cent arrived from other countries, a lower proportion than normal, and most chose Metro Vancouver.

B.C. has an unusual economy because it hinges so heavily on “outside money;” on new arrivals coming in to “buy real estate and support consumption with income earned elsewhere,” says Wright, an economist who gives presentations on the issue to Ottawa politicians and business organizations.

“In essence we are ‘exporting’ the right to reside in B.C.,” Wright says.

“This has become our largest ‘export industry.’ It accounts for more than twice the annual level of forest industry exports. In the short run, this injection of dollars does create the impression of a healthy economy, but how long can this go on?”

The business council’s Williams generally agrees. A tremendous amount of B.C. money is going into “housing-related consumption,” he says.

But investment dollars are not flowing strongly enough into such things as new machinery and equipment and intellectual property rights, said the business economist. Those sectors can much more add to the “economy’s future productive capacity” and potentially increase stagnant wages.

In-migration should not be seen as a cure-all for the economic woes of Canada or B.C., says Williams.

He questions the way Canada, particularly B.C., depends on “record immigration levels to turbocharge population growth and housing demand.” Canadian economists believe immigration numbers have an overall neutral effect on real wages and gross domestic product per capita.

According to Stephen Punwasi, of Better Dwelling, B.C.’s economy is almost twice as reliant as neighbouring Alberta on real estate, which accounts for 20 per cent of B.C.’s GDP.

That compares to an average of 13.5 per cent across the country, a proportion that is still much higher than in the United States. If B.C.’s construction industry is included, it adds up to almost one third of B.C.’s GDP coming from real-estate related services.

Canada, and especially B.C., are “addicted” to real estate-driven growth, says Punwasi, who maintains it’s an unhealthy dependence that won’t be easy to break.

Wright, who was NDP Premier John Horgan’s deputy minister until stepping down last year, cites the danger of over-relying on new arrivals.

When 100,000 people move into B.C. and buy houses and services “it creates the illusion that the economy is strong. But for me the question is, ‘Is it sustainable?,’” Wright says.

“Let’s say somebody from outside B.C. retires to Comox and buys a place. And they’ve accumulated a lot of net wealth over their life. Whenever they spend money, it’s money that’s not being earned in B.C. In the short term it’s not bad for the economy, because it creates employment when somebody goes out and eats at a restaurant.”

But Wright doesn’t think relying on imported wealth is sustainable — for two reasons.

The first is that “you only get to sell off a piece of real estate to somebody outside the province once,” he said.

“And another reason is it’s not socially sustainable: Young people cannot afford a house anymore.” And too many new real-estate units are not suitable for families.

“A whole generation is going to be frozen out of the housing market, unless they have a well-capitalized, generous bank of mom and dad.”

What might happen to B.C. “when the party stops?” Wright asks, referring to a time when newcomers stop bringing in tens of billions of dollars each year from beyond provincial borders?

B.C., he said, will need to restructure by strengthening sectors such as forestry and mining, manufacturing and high tech — all of which are capable of producing superior middle-class wages.

“We better know,” Wright says, “how to rebuild the standard of living of the next generation.”

Source: Douglas Todd: B.C.’s housing-addicted economy not sustainable, experts fear

Ian Mulgrew: Refugee says foreign buyers property tax discriminates

Will be interesting to see how the court rules. Pretty wealthy refugee given the value of the property tax:
An Iranian refugee who has lived in Canada for 27 years but only recently obtained permanent resident status wants to be reimbursed for the $1.32-million foreign buyers property tax he paid for his West Vancouver home.
In a B.C. Supreme Court statement of claim filed recently, Kourosh Bakhtiari, who has been described in documents as an aspiring terrorist decades ago for convictions on weapons charges and who once escaped custody using s rope made of dental floss, maintains that a 61-month delay in granting him permanent resident status violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, causing him duress and unnecessary expense.“His case shows how the foreign buyers property surtax in part harms a group of homeowners it is intended to help — long-term residents of B.C. without formal immigration status who wish to express their roots in this territory through home ownership,” veteran Vancouver lawyer Jason Gratl said.

Bakhtiari, who has no criminal record in Canada, was initially ruled inadmissible to the country by the Immigration and Refugee Board because of his crimes in the U.S., and was issued a conditional deportation order on April 9, 1996.

But he fought that and was designated a refugee on May 27, 1998.Ten years earlier, Bakhtiari was caught attempting to buy a Manhattan apartment while impersonating a State Department employee.

His briefcase contained weapons — including a 9 mm M-11 semi-automatic pistol, a silencer for the gun, a knife, grenades, and a garrote.

He and two other inmates reportedly later escaped from New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center using a rope fashioned out of 15 packages of dental floss braided together.

While recuperating in a New York hospital after being captured, he tried unsuccessfully to flee again.

Deported to Iran after a stint in a U.S. prison, Bakhtiari came to Canada and claimed political asylum on Dec. 10, 1995, fearing torture in Iran because in 1984 his father was captured, tortured, and killed for leading a revolt against the Islamic regime.

He applied to the immigration minister for permanent resident status in 1997, but was denied due to his U.S. convictions and his failure to pay a fine. Bakhtiari wrongly assumed that the fine would be paid from seized assets.On Dec. 15, 2011, more than 100 police officers converged on five locations, including Bakhtiari’s company offices, in a dramatic raid that netted more than $220,000 and four kilograms of methamphetamine.

Nevertheless, police apologized in 2017 for “Project Enape,” which targeted Bakhtiari’s firm for manufacturing legal pharmaceuticals and male hair-growth products allegedly because it was linked to organized crime. Civil proceedings in the case resulted in the forfeiture of seized cash.

In 2014, Bakhtiari again attempted to apply for permanent resident status. This application was again refused. He applied once more in January 2017.

Bakhtiari was finally granted permanent resident status this past Feb. 16, although no explanation was given for the delay.

He alleges the process took three times longer than average and was the product of gross negligence and bad faith by the minister.

During this waiting period, Bakhtiari, on July 1, 2021, was forced to pay $1.32 million in surtax on the June 14, 2019, purchase of a home registered in his company’s name on Groveland Road  in West Vancouver. He lives there.

He appealed, but on Feb. 29 was deemed ineligible for an exemption because he had not received permanent resident status within one year of the purchase — the process had taken 32 months.

The lawsuit, filed by Bakhtiari and his firm, Technocorp Venture Capital Inc., alleges the tax not only imposes an enormous financial burden on Bakhtiari but sends an implicit government-sponsored message that he is the kind of person who should be discouraged from owning a home in B.C.“The immigration minister’s delay in processing his application for permanent resident status contributed to the imposition of the surtax and loss of dignity, loss of social status, psychological distress and anxiety resulting from the imposition of the surtax and the implicit message of the surtax,” the lawsuit alleges.

Bakhtiari wants to be reimbursed for the surtax, the lien removed, the law amended, and paid damages.

“Discrimination against Bakhtiari, who has been a resident of British Columbia for 27 years, is contrary to the true intention of the legislature,” Gratl said.

He added that the purpose of the surtax is to promote home ownership by long-term residents and the one-year limit is arbitrary and unreasonable.

The attorney-general has told the court that persons in Bakhtiari’s position should not be subject to the surtax.

“The immigration minister’s unjustified delay of more than five years to process my client’s application for permanent resident status deprived him of an exemption from the 20-per-cent foreign buyer property surtax,” Gratl said.

“It might be tempting to believe that the wealthy are not entitled to civil liberties, but in law the right of equality belongs to everyone.”

The federal and provincial governments have roughly three weeks after they receive a copy of the suit to respond.

Source: Ian Mulgrew: Refugee says foreign buyers property tax discriminates

B.C. commits $100 million to Japanese Canadians in recognition of incarcerations

Of note:
B.C. is giving $100 million in funding to address the historical wrongs it caused when it helped to incarcerate thousands of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

The announcement comes on the 80th anniversary of the first arrivals of Japanese Canadians to the Greenwood, Kaslo, New Denver, Slocan City and Sandon camps in 1942.

Premier John Horgan says funds will go toward providing updated health programs for survivors, the creation and restoration of heritage sites and updating the provincial curriculum to include what he calls a “terrible chapter” in B.C.’s history.

Horgan says the recognition is “long overdue” and the funding symbolizes “turning a page” in how Japanese Canadians have been treated by past governments.

The province says in a statement that this builds on a 2012 apology by the B.C. legislature and responds to a redress proposal advanced in 2021 by the National Association of Japanese Canadians.

B.C. also gave $2 million to the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society last May as a first step toward fulfilling a promise to recognize the incarceration of almost 22,000 people.

“This endowment will not change the past, but it will ensure that generations that are with us still, and those that come after, will have the opportunity to see something positive coming out of what was clearly a very, very dark period in our collective histories,” Horgan said at a Saturday news conference.

Source: B.C. commits $100 million to Japanese Canadians in recognition of incarcerations

Govender: B.C.’s new anti-racism legislation allows us to turn intersectional data into systemic change

From BC’s Human Rights Commissioner:

The “grandmother perspective” to data collection, which I first learned from Gwen Phillips of the Ktunaxa Nation, suggests that government should collect data as a grandmother would collect information about her family: to better care for them, rather than exercise control with a big-brother mentality. This perspective formed the basis for the recent recommendations on disaggregated data collection from British Columbia’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner to the provincial government.

A grandmother collects her grandchildren’s stories like pencil marks on the wall, measuring their growth. Data can also tell a story – one that helps us to understand people’s needs at a community level. Policy makers, too, need good information to design good law, policy and services.

This week, the B.C. government introduced the Anti-Racism Data Act, new legislation to collect disaggregated demographic data. The new law, if passed, facilitates the collection of personal information for the purposes of identifying systemic racism and advancing racial equity.

Disaggregated demographic data are information based on different aspects of our identities: for example, information broken down by race, gender or educational status. While the Statistics Canada census already collects disaggregated data in relation to the general population, this new law will facilitate the collection of such data in relation to government policies, practices and services, such as health care. Comparing statistics based on these two datasets can reveal patterns and inequalities. Information about inequalities, in turn, can help us design better policies to tackle systemic discrimination. We can’t act on what we don’t know.

B.C. opens consultation on anti-racism legislation as groups praise data collection

Importantly, data must be collected on more than just racism in order to be effective. If we can’t understand how gender, race, age and other factors work together or intersect to inform our experiences in the world – and more accurately, how sexism, racism, ageism, ableism and so on inform our experiences – then we won’t be able to create good public policy that meets people’s real needs.

Race-based data only tell part of the story. For example, we know that in Canada, racialized men earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by white men, according to a 2019 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report. But that gap widens significantly for racialized women, Indigenous women, transgender women and women with disabilities. Indeed, racialized women earn only 59 cents for every dollar earned by white men.

Treating all racialized people as a homogenous group not only obscures the problem, but it also reinforces it by leading to solutions that are only tailored to the experiences of the dominant subgroup within that category.

We may identify racist stereotypes as being one of the barriers contributing to the wage gap. But we also need to understand that stereotypes of racialized women may be quite different than stereotypes of racialized men. Ignoring these gendered differences silences and omits the experiences of racialized women. We need to truly understand the scope and complexity of the wage gap in order to solve it; intersectional data collection and analysis is key to that end.

However, there is a serious downside to collecting all this information. Despite its power to focus the gaze of policy makers on real world inequities, data also have the power to reinforce negative stereotypes, and some people have legitimate concerns about sharing this information.

In recent recommendations from my office, we called on the provincial government to put control over data in the hands of those from whom the data are being collected. For example, disaggregated demographic data about a First Nation should only be collected in service of that community and upon the consent of that Nation, and used at their direction. The new legislation creates advisory roles for those who are directly impacted to embed this democratic approach to data and to counter any harms it may cause.

For decades, racialized communities, scholars and activists have been calling for this kind of legislation. Over the last two years, the public calls for disaggregated-data collection have grown louder. Protests against police brutality, a growing awareness of the ways in which racism impacts health outcomes, including those of COVID-19, and a movement to push back on the mainstream emergence of white nationalism have brought systemic racism into the consciousness of the masses. While data may not be the most glamorous call to action, they may be one of the most fruitful.

The new legislation is an important marker of our growth toward a more equal society. However, data collection is just one pencil mark on the wall; the next milestone to measure will be whether we are able to use it to create real social change. Implementation requires using intersectional data and a meaningful community governance model to turn information into action.

Kasari Govender is British Columbia’s first independent Human Rights Commissioner. BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner exists to address the root causes of inequality, discrimination and injustice in the province by shifting laws, policies, practices and cultures.

Source: B.C.’s new anti-racism legislation allows us to turn intersectional data into systemic change

Indo-Canadian leaders say Elections B.C. oversight would end questionable tactics in party races

Of note. Look forward to comments from British Columbia readers:

Leaders in the province’s Indo-Canadian community say the recent controversy surrounding B.C. Liberal party memberships would not be happening if a third-party organization such as Elections B.C. was given an oversight role in political party leadership elections.

Several long-time Liberals and New Democrats of Punjabi heritage are concerned that the blame for questionable memberships is being unfairly placed on racialized communities, instead of on the parties’ membership and voting rules.

“Punjabi-Canadians are a demographic that loves their politics, and you have the traditional loyalty to family and friends, so that is why this community is able to sign up large number of members in a very short period of time. It does not mean their memberships are illegal,” said long-time B.C. Liberal Barj Dhahan.

“Whenever this question comes up, it is Punjabi-Canadians who get stereotyped that they are not following the rules. The real question is: Are the rules being followed by the candidates and their campaign teams and volunteers?”

The controversy came to a head last month, after six of the seven B.C. Liberal leadership campaign teams demanded the party audit close to half of its new memberships over concerns that rules were not being followed. They pointed to addresses that were not residences, including one on a forest service road. One campaign said its canvassers found one residence where only one of the five people signed up using that addressed lived there. The campaigns questioned whether the party was capable of catching potential cheaters.

Since then, the party has been accused of singling out members from the South Asian and Chinese communities for review and audit.

Former NDP MLA Harry Lali said there is a long history of groups, including lawyers and teachers, that launched large membership campaigns for their favoured candidates, but those campaigns were never questioned. He believes all leadership elections over the past two decades in every party have been tainted by dubious membership recruitment tactics.

Lali said when that happens, the party suffers.

“What ends up happening is the old-guard membership is pitted against the new membership, so it often becomes white people being pitted against non-white people,” he said. “It’s time that political parties were dragged into the 21st century.”

That is why Lali recommended that Elections B.C. take over the process of vetting memberships and overseeing leadership votes more than a decade ago, when he was running for the NDP leadership.

Vikram Bajwa also supports calls for involvement by Elections B.C. Bajwa has been a member of the B.C. Liberal party for more than 20 years, and was one of the whistle-blowers in the so-called “quick wins” scandal in 2013, when the party under former premier Christy Clark planned to use government funds to target ethnic support.

Bajwa now claims more than 6,000 international students from India and China have been signed up as Liberal party members in the current leadership race. Bajwa said he and several other party members have sought legal advice and have written a letter demanding the party take action.

“The Liberal party membership form does not ask you to state your citizenship or permanent resident status,” explained Bajwa. “It was overlooked during Christy Clark’s time, and this time we want to put a stop to this.”

Bajwa said if the issue is not properly addressed at the final Liberal leadership debate on Tuesday night, as promised by the party, he and several concerned members will be filing a judicial review of the memberships in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the party has not responded to a request for comment about foreign student memberships.

The leadership election organizing committee issued a public statement last week, saying that more than 3,000, or six per cent, of the party’s 43,000 current active members have been flagged for an audit. It said some audits were triggered when a non-Canadian IP address was used to buy a membership.

It added that, so far, no membership has been rejected.

Critics say they are not working for any of the B.C. Liberal campaigns and their only agenda is to rid the system of the abuses within it. They say it will take political will not seen so far to introduce legislation allowing Elections B.C. to oversee all party leadership elections.

“Not doing something about it, for all political parties, it ends up creating a schism and that erodes to less and less participation in the political process,” said Lali. “And on a wider scale, when you’re talking about someone who wants to be the premier of the province, you want to make sure that individual has won fairly and that the general public can have that confidence.”

Source: Indo-Canadian leaders say Elections B.C. oversight would end questionable tactics in party races

Lawyers say they should be excluded from money laundering policies in B.C.

Really? “Better call Saul:”

Two groups representing lawyers say their profession should be excluded from any government regulations aimed at fighting money laundering in British Columbia in order to protect the confidentiality of the lawyer-client relationship.

Kevin Westell made joint closing submissions at a public inquiry into money laundering on behalf of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Bar Association and the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society.

The bar association representing 7,000 lawyers in the province is also concerned about suggestions that there is a high risk of money laundering inherent in the work of lawyers, Westell told the inquiry as it wrapped up on Tuesday.

The province announced the launch of the hearings in 2019 after three reports outlined a money laundering crisis fuelled by billions of dollars being funnelled through the gambling, real estate, horse racing and luxury car sectors as well as the illegal drug trade.

The inquiry heard from 198 witnesses since hearings began in May 2020.

Westell told inquiry commissioner Austin Cullen that his ultimate recommendations could significantly affect how lawyers do their jobs and the extent to which members of the public will continue to feel confident that their dealings with lawyers would remain strictly confidential.

The Canadian Bar Association maintains that the proper approach to dealing with concerns about money laundering in the legal profession must be through ongoing self-regulation to ensure that lawyers aren’t forced into a situation where they’re spying on their clients, he said.

The groups’ concerns about potential infringement of confidentiality as part of solicitor-client privilege as well as the independence of lawyers stem from findings in one of two government-commissioned reports on “dirty money” authored by Peter German, a lawyer and former RCMP deputy commissioner.

German said in the second report that lawyers in B.C. are at high risk of being targeted by money launderers, not only because they are exempt from financial reporting, unlike notaries, but due to the risks that are part of dealing with real estate transactions.

“Lawyers are the ‘black hole’ of real estate and of money movement generally. With no visibility by law enforcement on what enters and leaves a lawyer’s trust account, many investigations are stymied,” German wrote in the March 2019 report.

He also said the “no cash rule” governing the acceptance by lawyers of no more than $7,500 is limited in its effect because it does not prevent someone from giving tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to a lawyer for bail money, or for fees and expenses.

However, Westell said German offered no suggestions on how third-party reporting of cash and suspicious transactions should be handled.

“An external reporting requirement for lawyers would inevitably breach solicitor-client confidentiality. Cash and suspicious transaction reporting would require documentation and disclosure of the source of funds to a party outside (the Law Society of B.C.),” he said.

Criminal defence lawyers are particularly concerned that the government and police may take increasingly invasive anti-money laundering measures that could be unproven in their effectiveness and “unfairly trample on the rights of British Columbians,” Westell said.

However, lawyer Toby Rauch-Davis, who represents a coalition that includes the group Transparency International Canada, told Cullen that lawyers, bankers and accountants should be included in any policies in order to allow for public scrutiny of how the advice of those professionals could be sought by criminal enterprises involved in money laundering.

“A finding that accountants and other professionals pose no money-laundering risk is akin to the kind of wilful blindness that led us to these proceedings,” he said.

“Given the fact that there can be no public scrutiny of the solicitor-client relationship, there’s an enhanced public interest in having complete transparency on the measures that the law society takes to ensure lawyers are not facilitating money laundering.”

The commission’s terms of reference say Cullen’s final report is due Dec. 15.

Source: Lawyers say they should be excluded from money laundering policies in B.C.

B.C. gives $2M to Japanese Canadian seniors as step toward righting internment wrongs

Of note:

British Columbia is offering tangible recognition of the historical wrongs caused by the province when it helped to intern thousands of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

The province has announced a $2-million fund for the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society to enhance programming for seniors and local communities.

A statement from the Ministry of Attorney General says the fund will be used to develop and deliver health and wellness programs to Japanese Canadian internment survivors.

The society and the National Association of Japanese Canadians will also spread the funding to other organizations supporting survivors.

The ministry statement says the grant is a first step toward fulfilling a provincial promise to honour Japanese Canadians by recognizing the traumatic internment of almost 22,000 people beginning in 1942.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the funding will allow internment survivors to connect with others in their community, helping them stay healthy and remain independent.

“The terrible loss suffered by thousands of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s is still impacting the community today, with many experiencing lasting health issues and trauma,” Dix says in the statement.

The Canadian government detained thousands of Japanese Canadians in early 1942 under the War Measures Act. They were held in crowded internment camps in B.C.’s Interior or were offered the option to work on sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba for the remainder of the Second World War.

Their homes, farms, businesses and other property were sold off by the government and the proceeds were used to pay the cost of their detention.

Ruth Coles, president of the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society, says many Japanese Canadian seniors were forced to rebuild their lives outside B.C. and now have “unique needs stemming from internment, forced uprooting, dispossession and displacement.”

Many still feel “shame and a lack of resolution” caused by the internment that have led to a lifetime of challenges, she says.

Then-prime minister Brian Mulroney formally apologized in 1988 for Canada’s role in the internment of Japanese Canadians and British Columbia recognized the discrimination and tremendous losses they suffered when it issued its own apology in the legislature in 2012.

Source: B.C. gives $2M to Japanese Canadian seniors as step toward righting internment wrongs

B.C. premier ‘alarmed’ by systemic racism allegations, promises anti-racism law

To watch and see similarities and differences with other provinces:

British Columbia’s premier says the government is working on anti-racism legislation that may be introduced this year.

John Horgan also said Wednesday he was “alarmed” to hear allegations of racism at the Royal B.C. Museum, which should be a welcome and respectful place for all Canadians.

Horgan said Melanie Mark, the minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport, is working with the Public Service Agency to ensure allegations of racism are followed up on as part of its investigation.

He said the museum’s board and senior staff have taken multiple allegations of racism by employees seriously and the findings of the investigation will be made public.

The resignation of Jack Lohman, the chief executive officer of the museum, was announced earlier this week after nine years in the position.

In a news release, the museum’s board of directors said Lohman’s departure on Friday was “mutually agreed” to be in the best interests of the organization as it “addresses current internal issues,” without elaborating.

Last month, the First Nations Leadership Council said in a statement that it was “disturbed by several recent media reports” alleging “ongoing systemic racism and toxic working conditions” at the museum.

The museum said Lohman was not available for comment this week and board chair Daniel Muzyka would not be available until Thursday.

Horgan said Mark is well placed to help the museum, which operates as a Crown corporation.

“Nobody takes this more seriously than minister Mark and I’m grateful that she is in place at this difficult time for not just the leadership, of course, at the museum but (for) all of those across British Columbia who look so fondly at the museum as a public asset, a real jewel for all British Columbians,” he said.

Horgan says a revitalization plan for the museum is underway as the province works with the federal government to understand the value of the facility’s archival materials.

“We need to have a respectful workplace, we need to make sure that it’s open for everyone to come, free of persecution or any hints of racism.”

Muzyka will serve as acting CEO until a replacement is found for Lohman, who was described by the board as “an internationally recognized expert in museums.”

It said “the board of directors acknowledges, with appreciation, his nine years of vision and service.”

Source: B.C. premier ‘alarmed’ by systemic racism allegations, promises anti-racism law

British Columbia Appeal Court ‘sorely lacking’ in people of colour: top judge

Of note:

Since the Liberal’s re-election in 2019, nearly 59 per cent of the judges federally appointed or elevated have been women, 16 per cent identify as a visible minority and a further three per cent identify as Indigenous, said the department. (last para highlights increased diversity in appointments since 2016:

B.C.’s top judge admits that the B.C. Court of Appeal is “sorely lacking” in diversity among its judges.

In 2016, the Trudeau government introduced policies aimed at increasing diversity for federally appointed judges, including those on B.C.’s highest court and the B.C. Supreme Court.

But while the gender balance on the Appeal Court has been improved, with 11 of the 24 current full-time and part-time judges being women, there are no judges who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour.

But while the gender balance on the Appeal Court has been improved, with 11 of the 24 current full-time and part-time judges being women, there are no judges who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour.

Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Court of Appeal said that it was important to the administration of justice that public institutions reflect society.

He said the judiciary and law are enriched by judges bringing a wide range of experiences and perspectives to their work.

“For many years, the B.C. Court of Appeal has achieved gender balance, or near-balance, between male and female judges,” Bauman said in a statement. “However, the Court is sorely lacking in other forms of diversity, especially judges who identify as Indigenous, Black or people of colour.”

Bauman noted that Appeal Court judges are appointed almost exclusively from the pool of judges who make up the B.C. Supreme Court, which he said has had an increasing number of diverse appointments in the past several years.

“That being so, I expect that the Appeal Court will begin to receive appointments in the coming years that will enhance the Court’s diversity, and I look forward to that positive development.”

In September, the Canadian Bar Association urged the federal government to put its stated commitment to diversity in the courts into action, noting that the judiciary in Canada remains overwhelmingly white with judges lacking first-hand knowledge and experience of the racism and systemic challenges faced by people of colour.

Raphael Tachie, the president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, also believes the government is not moving fast enough.

“Good rhetoric is appreciated. To be taken seriously, you need to take concrete steps. If you look at the B.C. Court of Appeal, it’s not a reflection of concrete steps.”

Tachie said he moved from B.C., where he practised law for 11 years, to Ontario in part because he believes his career prospects as a Black lawyer in the eastern province are better.

He said he does not accept the argument made by some in the judiciary and in law schools and corporate law firms that the lower courts need to be stocked with more qualified candidates before the higher courts can become more diversified.

Rupinder Gosal, president of the South Asian Bar Association of B.C., said it’s definitely a goal of her organization to increase diversity among judges but added she understands why there aren’t many diverse Court of Appeal judges because up until recently there weren’t as many appointments of diverse judges at lower levels.

“I think it’s unfortunately a step-by-step process and it’s unfortunately a process that will take some time.”

But Gosal said there were concerns about what she called systemic barriers to judicial applicants, including requirements to provide judicial references, as well as a need to encourage more candidates to step forward and apply.

In 1985, Wally Oppal was the first person of colour appointed to the B.C. Supreme Court. He was elevated to the B.C. Court of Appeal in 2003 where he served for two years before being elected to the provincial legislature and serving as attorney general for four years.

He said that getting more diverse judges on the bench was a “challenging” issue but added that he had never met anyone in positions of power in the justice system, whether judges or justice ministers, who don’t agree that there’s a greater need for diversity.

“The multicultural aspect of the justice system has only started to change within the last 20 years or so, 25 years. So I think there’s a certain amount of catch up that has to take place.”

In a statement, the federal Justice Department said that the face of Canada’s judiciary has changed considerably since the Liberals took office.

“We are committed to having a judiciary that looks more like Canada — one in which all Canadians can see themselves reflected,” said the statement.

“We are proud of the transparent and accountable appointment process we put into place to identify outstanding judicial candidates who reflect Canada’s diversity.”

Since the Liberal’s re-election in 2019, nearly 59 per cent of the judges federally appointed or elevated have been women, 16 per cent identify as a visible minority and a further three per cent identify as Indigenous, said the department.

Source: Appeal Court ‘sorely lacking’ in people of colour: top judge