Thank goodness the provincial New Democrats aren't journalists. Because, if they were, their stories would be yesterday's news by the time they hit the streets. An example: on December 18, a coroner's inquest into the Peter Lee murders came out with 14 recommendations to improve how the criminal justice system responds to domestic violence. Solicitor General Kash Heed refused to commit additional funding to implement those recommendations. But the New Democrats didn't send out a news release specifically responding to that news until today...18 days later. The following is a complete copy of that release, which was distributed after CHNL reported Attorney General Mike de Jong is considering amending the Family Relations Act to make divorce cases less combative.
For Immediate Release
Jan. 5, 2010
B.C. LIBERALS HAVE PRIORITIES ALL WRONG ON FAMILY RELATIONS ACT
VICTORIA - The B.C. Liberals must stop ignoring the problem of domestic violence and implement the jury recommendations resulting from the coroner's inquest into the Oak Bay murder-suicide of the Lee family in 2007, New Democrats said today.
"I don't understand why this government is doing nothing after two reports have been issued in the last four months spelling out exactly what needs to be done," said Leonard Krog, New Democrat critic for the Attorney General.
"Mike de Jong said today that he wants to make changes to the Family Relations Act to make divorce proceedings less adversarial. While I support anything that helps families through such a difficult time, Mr. de Jong has blinders on to families who are actually in adversarial situations," said Krog, noting that leaving an abusive relationship can be the most dangerous time for women and children.
Attorney General Mike de Jong has said that when the spring session of the legislature resumes, he would like to introduce changes to the Family Relations Act, saying it is outdated and encourages a combative environment in divorce proceedings. While commendable, New Democrats note that on the much more urgent issue of family violence, the B.C. Liberals have done nothing in response to coroner's inquest recommendations such as establishing a provincial domestic violence response unit, providing advocacy services to victims and abusers upon first contact with the courts, and performing a risk assessment before bail is granted.
"The B.C. Liberals are showing once again that they don't have their priorities straight. The Attorney General has his staff looking into ways to make it easier for people to get a divorce instead of ways to protect women and children trapped in abusive relationships," said Maurine Karagianis, New Democrat critic for Children and Family Development.
"First the B.C. Liberals ignored the recommendations put forward by the Representative for Children and Youth regarding the horrifying killing of the Lee family, and now they remain silent on jury recommendations from the coroner's inquest into the tragedy," said Karagianis. "It's time for action."
In September, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond issued her report into the death of six-year-old Christian Lee and his family which spelled out five recommendations for changes, including the establishment of dedicated domestic violence courts and changes to the Family Relations Act to define domestic violence and its impacts on other provisions of the act.
"I hope that if the Attorney General is looking at changes to the Family Relations Act, he will at least implement the representative's recommendations around domestic violence," said Krog.
Carole James and the New Democrats have been holding the B.C. Liberals accountable for breaking their word on the HST, and for backtracking on their election promises to protect health care, education, and other vital services.
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