Honourable Barry Penner
PO Box 9044 Stn Prov Govt
May 31, 2011
Dear Mr. Penner,
I am writing to ask you to reconsider your recent decision that you will not be funding legal counsel for the 13 applicants from the Downtown Eastside community granted legal standing at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. This inquiry is of great importance to the Vancouver East residents, as our community was deeply affected by the tragedy of many women going missing and being murdered. The Inquiry presented a chance for those affected to talk about what happened in their community and why it happened.
In order to achieve justice, we must have balanced funding for both the government and community advocacy organizations involved in the Inquiry. Otherwise many voices will go unheard and the Inquiry tainted. It seems outrageous that the government is prepared to fully fund legal counsel for the police department, while only granting funding to a few families and ignoring the legal counsel requests of advocacy organizations. Without these groups being represented the Inquiry will be undermined.
I hope that you will reconsider your decision, and follow Mr. Oppal’s initial recommendation to provide funding for legal counsel for community applicants. Sex Trade workers, Aboriginal people, and Downtown Eastside residents will all be affected by the outcome of this inquiry, and it is vital that their voices are heard and represented.
Libby Davies, MP
CC: Adrian Dix, Leader of the BC New Democrats