VICTORIA — Attorney General David Eby says racism, hate and intolerance know no boundaries, and he's urging British Columbians to participate in a public process to shape and re-establish the province's former human rights commission.
Eby said Wednesday the minority NDP government has launched a two-month public consultation to help develop a modern, efficient and effective commission that builds a safer and more inclusive society.
The human rights commission was dismantled in 2002 by the former Liberal government in favour of the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
The NDP promised to re-establisy it during last spring's election campaign.
"It's critically important that we make sure that this body responds to the specific concerns of British Columbians around racism and discrimination," Eby said.
He said people may be aware of incidents of rising and hate and intolerance in the United States and other countries, but B.C. is not immune.
"There are incidents in Richmond, for example, with racist flyers and racist graffiti," Eby said. "We want to make sure B.C. is on the right path and we think this commission will go a long way to do that."
B.C. is currently the only province in Canada without a human rights commission.
British Columbians can share experiences and ideas to help build the commission by contributing to a dedicated website until Nov. 17, Eby said.
He said the human rights commission website includes weekly discussion questions to drive ongoing conversations and will accept written submissions. The first discussion topic on the website is, "Human Rights and You."
Ravi Kahlon, parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism, will speak with individuals and groups throughout the public process, both in person and online.
Kahlon said B.C.'s current human rights tribunal is mandated to adjudicate disputes that have already occurred but the commission will serve an expanded role to educate and examine ongoing and developing human rights issues.
"Human rights are diverse and constantly evolving, and a new commission will respond to the issues British Columbians see and experience today while preparing us for issues that may arise in the future," he said.
Kahlon will submit recommendations and a written report to Eby by the end of the year, and legislation is expected in 2018.