Adam Olsen is MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. (Black Press Media file photo)

Adam Olsen is MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. (Black Press Media file photo)

MLA REPORT: Committee tackles systemic bias in policing

Adam Olsen is MLA for Saanich North and the Islands

Adam Olsen

MLA for Saanich North and the Islands

2020 was a year of monumental disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic played one part. The profound impacts of the deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota, Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto and Chantel Moore in New Brunswick, in addition to allegations of racist “games” in the British Columbia health-care system, shook our business-as-usual public institutions for the better. No longer could the reality for many British Columbians who have personally experienced the deeply entrenched systemic bias, discrimination and racism be ignored.

In the summer, the B.C. government launched an investigation into the extent of institutionalized racism against Indigenous people in the health-care system. Following calls from the public to defund the police, they struck an all-party committee to review the Police Act. In the ensuing months the demands for justice, fair treatment and systemic change in our law enforcement institutions have continued.

The purpose of the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act is to review British Columbia’s law governing policing and public safety. It has been decades since there were any systematic or major reviews of the legislation. When creating the terms of reference for the review of the Police Act, Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, gave the committee a sweeping mandate.

I am thankful to be a member of the special committee. For the past few months we have been hearing testimony from experts, academics, stakeholders, community advocates, Indigenous communities and provincial ministries and agencies. While I appreciate the challenge we have as a committee in parsing the huge volume of information, the quality of our recommendations must be informed by broad consultation. It is necessary that our review include knowledge holders from many sectors, including police, mental health and wellness, addictions and harm reduction, Indigenous communities and advocates.

READ ALSO: What is systemic discrimination, bias and racism?

We also need to hear from the public. The committee is accepting input from all British Columbians on policing, public safety, and related systemic issues. As an individual or organization, you can provide a written, audio or video submission – whatever best communicates your experiences and advice on the future of policing in British Columbia. The deadline to submit is April 30 and you can learn more about the submission process at: www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/rpa.

Gathering information is just the first step in the process. Once that is complete, my colleagues and I will begin deliberations on our recommendations to the government. It is likely this will include more than just a new Police Act. We have heard a variety of advice on a wide range of laws, regulations and government policy that all need to change if we are going to seriously address the systemic bias, discrimination and racism.

From what the committee has heard so far, we need systemic and institutional change. We have that opportunity now to take those necessary steps to ensure we have a just, fair and safe society for all British Columbians. In this spirit, I encourage you to please take this opportunity to have your say in this important work.

– Adam Olsen is MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushes B.C. government to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Saanich police detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault that occurred near Glanford Park on the evening of Dec. 29, 2020 and have shared an artist’s rendering of the individual. (Image via Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police release sketch of suspect sought in December sexual assault

Anyone with information asked to contact detectives, Crime Stoppers

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY – A woman in business: Caroline Throup

Elida Peers | Contributed Who was it that said “Women in Business”… Continue reading

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read