The B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s new executive director expects the aftermath of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry report, police accountability and the right-to die question will be among the organization’s pressing issues in 2013.
Josh Paterson was hired by the association earlier this month to replace David Eby, who resigned as executive director to become the NDP candidate in Vancouver-Point Grey — Premier Christy Clark’s riding — for next year’s provincial election.
Paterson starts work in January. He said the association is still working its way through the missing and murdered women report, which was released Monday.
“Obviously, BCCLA was one of the groups that withdrew from that process and wasn’t happy with the process,” he said Tuesday. “That being said, there are still all of these unaddressed issues. There are a number of recommendations that have been raised by the commissioner. There’s going to be a challenge over the next year for us, along with lots of other groups, to really see what kinds of changes, if any, are made.”
Paterson added that police accountability continues to be a priority and the association will closely watch how the newly formed Independent Investigations Office functions.
“The BCCLA was very happy to see that created after many years of calling for it and other groups calling for it. But that only solves part of the problem. That only deals with certain kinds of misconduct on the part of police officers, so we’re going to continue to press to make sure citizens get the kind of accountability they deserve from the police officers and forces that serve and protect us.”
Paterson considers the right-to-die issue to be another priority.
“Naturally, that win for Gloria Taylor in B.C. Supreme Court was a really big deal in the last 12 months,” he said. “Our legal team is going to press for the dignity of people who are terminally ill and we can expect that to continue to be a big issue.”
Paterson, 35, is from Ontario, but has lived in Vancouver for six years. He previously worked as an aboriginal and natural resources lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law. He’s on a two-month paternal leave before starting work at the BCCLA Jan. 2.
He speaks English and French and has a master’s and a law degree from the University of Toronto. He worked for a year in Ontario at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association before moving to B.C.
“For me, working to advance the cause of human rights and civil liberties has always been at the core of what I wanted to do in my legal career,” he told the Courier.
Paterson noted the BCCLA has opened an office in Prince George and plans to open another in Kamloops.
“The organization is really doubling down on its commitment to serve people right across B.C. They’ve always done it, but they’ve done it from Vancouver. I think it’s so important to have a presence in the communities that we’re trying to serve, so I’m really looking forward to working to build on that in 2013,” he said.