CANADA: Candidates in BC Election Must Commit to Address Critical Gaps in Human Rights Protection

In an Open Letter, Amnesty International Canada has called on all candidates in British Columbia’s upcoming provincial election to commit to addressing crucial gaps in oversight, accountability, and service delivery that jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of many British Columbians and thus undermine their human rights.
“As a wealthy province in a wealthy country, British Columbia should be setting a positive example for the rest of the world that human rights can and will be safeguarded and upheld in every government decision,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “The recommendations we’ve placed before candidates provide for practical and effective measures toward realizing that objective.”
“Recent research undertaken by Amnesty International in BC, along with our ongoing partnership with Indigenous peoples’ organizations and community groups in the province, have highlighted critical gaps in human rights protection and accountability,” said Lana Verran, Vancouver-based President of Amnesty International Canada. “These include critical shortcomings in the oversight of resource development, upholding the legal rights of Indigenous peoples, and providing services to women escaping violence. These gaps in human rights protection jeopardize the safety and well-being of British Columbians and should be a priority for anyone seeking to hold public office.”
The Open Letter calls on candidates to make clear commitments to protect Indigenous rights by halting construction of the Site C dam and ensuring that future decisions are consistent with the legal rights of Indigenous peoples, including free, prior and informed consent. Candidates are further called on to commit to collaborate with Indigenous to protect sensitive watersheds and ecosystems.
To address the devastating crisis of violence against Indigenous women and girls in the province, candidates are called on to help ensure full implementation of all recommendations stemming from BC’s provincial inquiry. Amnesty International is also urging that approval of resource projects be subject to rigorous gender impact assessments so that the specific impacts on women’s lives and safety are addressed rather than ignored.  Funding must be restored to organizations who work for gender equality, including by providing services for women and girls escaping violence
In light of the Mount Polley disaster, which uncovered clear shortcomings in accountability of the resource industry, candidates are called on to commit to the creation of an emergency fund for environmental disasters and to launch a public inquiry into oversight and compliance with existing mining regulations in order to safeguard British Columbians’ rights to health, safety and a clean environment.  
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