NDP MLAs Harry Bains and Raj Chouhan attend Surrey event held to bring back the B.C. Human Rights Commission

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      Could the B.C. NDP be on the verge of calling for the restoration of the B.C. Human Rights Commission before the next provincial election?

      The party refused to include this pledge in its 2013 campaign platform but on Saturday (July 2), two of its MLAs were present for the launch of a new petition to bring back the commission.

      Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains and Burnaby-Edmonds MLA Raj Chouhan attended the event at the Strawberry Hill library branch in Surrey.

      The petition was started by Radical Desi Publications and calls upon the legislature to restore the B.C. Human Rights Commission. According to the magazine's founders, this is necessary to help Canada meet its legal obligations under international treaties to respect human rights.

      Chouhan is assistant deputy speaker of the legislature and a cofounder of the B.C. Organization to Fight Racism. Another cofounder of the group, Charan Gill, was also in attendance.

      Burnaby-Edmonds NDP MLA and assistant deputy speaker of the legislature Raj Chouhan (centre right) also attended the event.

      The Gordon Campbell government abolished the B.C. Human Rights Commission in 2002.

      The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal adjudicates complaints, but there is no longer any provincial public body with a mandate to examine systemic discrimination or conduct public education on human-rights issues.

      Speakers at Saturday's event included Bains, Gill, indigenous activist and residential-school survivor Kat Norris, former B.C Human Rights Commission acting chief commissioner Harinder Mahil, and veterinarian Hakam Bhullar, who's objected to his treatment at the hands of regulators.

      Norris was the first person to sign the petition, which is also available online

      People at the event held a moment of silence in honour of recently deceased lieutenant-colonel (retired) Pritam Singh Jauhal.

      He was a Second World War veteran who became a national symbol against racism in 1993 when he fought the Royal Canadian Legion's ban on veterans entering the premises wearing turbans.