Petitioners are seeking support for the removal of former attorney general Wally Oppal as commissioner of the murdered and missing women inquiry.
More than 130 names have been added to the online version of the new petition, which is also circulating offline in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.
The petition calls on B.C.’s solicitor general to find a replacement for Oppal as commissioner of the provincial inquiry.
It also calls for Downtown Eastside community members to have more influence on the inquiry process.
The petition says Oppal has ties to potential inquiry witnesses and that he defended the investigation of convicted serial killer Robert Pickton.
It also says Oppal opposed a public inquiry and was attorney general when 20 murder charges were stayed against Pickton.
In addition, it raises questions about perceptions Oppal is partisan because has been a B.C. Liberal candidate.
Oppal has previously rejected criticism about his impartiality.
Harsha Walia, an activist and petition supporter, said the signature drive was launched January 26 by an ad hoc group of Downtown Eastside women.
“It really just came out of people being extremely frustrated at how the inquiry process has happened,” Walia told the Straight by phone.
She said there is outrage over how the inquiry process is “totally removed from the Downtown Eastside community” and how “it feels like it’s a process that’s essentially being rushed in order to say that an inquiry happened”.
Earlier this month, public forums were held in Prince George and Vancouver to hear from those affected by the disappearances and deaths of women.
The inquiry is to look into how police investigated the disappearances of women from the Downtown Eastside between January 1997 and February 2002, when Pickton was arrested.
It is also to examine why charges were stayed against Pickton in 1998 after a sex trade worker was assaulted.
Formal inquiry hearings are expected to start later this year and a report is due before the end of 2011.
Oppal’s appointment as commissioner was announced in September 2010.