News

Hon. Bruce Ralston, K.C.

BC NDP

Surrey-Whalley

Minister of Forests

Office:

Room 138
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

[email protected]

Phone: (250) 387-6240

Fax: (250) 387-1040

Constituency:

10574 King George Boulevard
Surrey, BC V3T 2X3

[email protected]

Phone: (604) 586-2740

Fax: (604) 586-2800

Biography

Bruce Ralston was first elected MLA for Surrey-Whalley in 2005. He was re-elected in 2009, 2013 2017, and 2020. He is the Minister of Forests and previously served as the Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.

Bruce served as the Official Opposition critic for Natural Gas Development, Trade, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, and also served as Opposition critic for finance, agriculture, international trade, the Asia Pacific strategy, and intergovernmental relations. He served as chair of the Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts from 2009 to 2017, and as a member of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services from 2006 to 2013.

Bruce operated his own law firm in Surrey for many years, and continues to maintain his membership in the Law Society of British Columbia.

From 1995 to 2006, Bruce was elected to four consecutive terms as a member of the VanCity Savings Credit Union board of directors. He served as a chair of the board from 2001 to 2003. In 2003, BC Business magazine recognized Bruce as one of B.C.’s five leading board chairs. From 2003 until 2005, Bruce acted as the chair of the board of VanCity Enterprises, a VanCity subsidiary with a mandate to provide innovative housing solutions throughout the Lower Mainland.

Bruce also served as a councillor on Surrey City Council for 1988 to 1993, where he advocated for planned development for healthy neighbourhoods for Surrey families. He is a former member of the Boards of Directors of Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Surrey Public Library.

A former president of the B.C. NDP, Bruce was born in Victoria and grew up in Vancouver. He has degrees in history and law from the University of British Columbia and a degree in history from the University of Cambridge in England.

Bruce is married to Miriam Sobrino. They have three children who grew up in Whalley and attended public schools in Surrey and New Westminster. Their elder son attends graduate school in the U.S., while the other two are pursuing undergraduate post-secondary degrees in Canadian universities. The family is active in their communities through a number of community and sports organizations.

Where They Stand on Modernizing BC's Wrongful Death Laws

To date, MLA Ralston has been silent regarding The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’s calls for legislative modernization of our discriminatory wrongful death laws.

How Can This MLA Improve Their Grade?

Meet with constituents on this issue.

Meet with The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society on this issue.

Write a letter of endorsement for modernization to the Attorney General and Premier.

Please petition MLA Hon. Bruce Ralston, K.C. now »

This individual has scored an F (failing) grade with respect to their position on modernizing BC's wrongful death laws. Learn More »

The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’s goal is to modernize BC’s wrongful death laws, which unlike other provinces, currently denies justice to the surviving family members of children, seniors, the disabled, or anyone who wasn’t considered a breadwinner with dependents, when killed by the careless or intentional acts of another.

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As Seen In

The following news outlets have featured the issue of BC's antiquated wrongful death laws alongside stories of tragedy countless times for decades, although the provincial government still fails to right this legislative wrong.

What British Columbians Are Saying

The public is unanimously outraged and expressing their views through many channels.

Organizations That Have Endorsed Modernization

The following organizations have endorsed repealing and replacing the 'Family Compensation Act' and replacing it with our Society's drafted 'Wrongful Death Accountability Act' to ensure the full measure of value to British Columbians lives and access to justice with no loopholes for wrongdoers to escape accountability.

Vancouver City Council
Union of BC Municipalities
Lower Mainland Local Government Association

Prominent Figures Who've Endorsed Modernization

The following prominent figures and elected officials have written letters endorsing legislative modernization of BC's wrongful death laws.

Vancouver City Councillor Pete Fry (Green)
MLA Michael DeJong (Liberal)
MLA Douglas Routley (NDP)
MLA Andrew Mercier (NDP)

Petition Your MLA Now

Unlike other Canadian provinces, BC has not made any significant amendments to its wrongful death legislation—ever. The current BC Family Compensation Act only values the lives of income-earners. This neglect must stop. Petitioning your local MLA, the Attorney General, and Premier with our automated tool can make a lasting difference to the lives of British Columbians for generations to come.

Dear Local MLA, Attorney General Niki Sharma, Premier David Eby, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General Mike Farnworth,

I am writing to you about British Columbia’s woefully outdated wrongful death laws; which are still based on colonial-era legislation from 1846.

BC’s current “Family Compensation Act” only takes into account the direct financial losses resulting from the wrongful death of a loved one. As a result, only the families of deceased breadwinners see the inside of a courtroom in cases of wrongful death.

Children, seniors, people with disabilities, or anyone who does not meet the discriminatory criteria of having both an income and dependents are classes of people whose lives are not valued or respected when they are killed in BC.

This is a human rights issue.

Investigations into the wrongful death of these classes of citizens most often do not occur because there is no ‘loss of earnings’ to cover civil trial costs.

Accordingly, families have been denied the ability to right the wrong and ensure that the same preventable actions which resulted in the wrongful death would not happen to another.

Unlike other provinces in Canada, which in most cases have modernized long ago, many of your constituents are considered “worthless” under the discriminatory law in British Columbia.

Their stories are actively being documented and published here – https://intheirname.ca/stories/

The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society is comprised of families who have been fighting for over two decades to see our laws modernized. They have drafted legislation that can solve this problem now.

These families, based on each individual personal experience of loss, have demanded that the legislation include the following tenets:

#1 The value of human life must not be based merely on whether the wrongfully killed was a breadwinner with dependants. There must be a legal recognition for the value of each life and the loss of love, guidance, care, companionship, and affection wrongfully taken from surviving family members.

#2 The value of human life must not be arbitrarily capped by legislation. Damages for the loss of life must be assessed individually by constitutionally independent superior courts, in recognition of the distinct relationship that existed between each of the surviving family members and the wrongfully killed loved one.

#3 All forms of non-pecuniary damages, including aggravated and punitive damages must be available under the legislation to be awarded in appropriate cases. Financial penalty assessed by a civil court when a wrongdoer maliciously, or recklessly kills another person is essential when criminal prosecution is not pursued or fails. General deterrence of future wrongdoing is an important objective.

#4 If an individual is not initially killed by a wrongful act, but later dies before the conclusion of litigation, this should not be a windfall for the wrongdoer. There should not be a perverse incentive for the wrongdoer to delay, or prolong litigation. Damages relating to conscious pain, suffering, and disability during the period between the wrong and the decedent’s death, including damages for loss of expectation of life, pain and suffering, physical disfigurement, or loss of amenities must remain available under the legislation.

#5 Families deserve the right to have their day in court with the ability to obtain professional legal representation on a contingency basis. No other piece of legislation in the province should bar the pursuit of an at-fault wrongful death claim against a negligent party. The contingency fee system does not discriminate socioeconomically, and it ensures the family can obtain the best representation necessary to obtain truth, justice, and accountability against a wrongdoer, no matter how big and powerful that wrongdoer might be. Families also deserve the right to have the case decided by a jury of their peers. This fundamental aspect of our democracy must be preserved.

What will you do to create a fair and adequate wrongful death law in BC?

Yours Truly,
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cc: Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon, Liberal Critic for Attorney General Mike de Jong, Liberal Critic for Public Safety & Solicitor General Mike Morris, BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau

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