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Victoria Bar Association celebrates winners of homeless camping case

The Victoria Bar Association will give an award tonight to Catherine Boies Parker and Irene Faulkner for their work on the case that struck down Victoria's anti-camping bylaws.

The award will be delivered on a day when one of their clients, David Arthur Johnston, was released after spending six days in jail. He was arrested Oct. 31 after refusing to remove his tent from the square outside City Hall.

“They selflessly took on a case that other lawyers would have shyed away from,” said Scott Farquhar, president of the VBA, who will present the award at a dinner at the Victoria Golf Club. “They're very deserving candidates.”

The Contribution to the Law Award is for a member “who has had a significant involvement in the development of a legal issue during the year, and which involvement reflects positively on the legal profession.”

Boies Parker and Faulkner won an Oct. 14 Supreme Court of B.C. decision that found that since many people have to sleep outside given the city's housing crisis, their right to shelter themselves is protected by the Constitution.

“I realize from a public policy stand point some people didn't agree with the decision,” Farquhar said, but added that most lawyers will agree it was the right decision and moves the law forward in a significant way.

“We're very pleased,” said Faulkner. “It's very nice to see that kind of acknowledgment from our colleagues.”

Faulkner attended court as an observer during Johnston's appearance today. Provincial Court judge Ernie Quantz released Johnston on the promise he would meet several conditions, including following the city's bylaw enforcement policy that says tents must be dismantled by 7 a.m. each day.

Faulkner said she and Boies Parker seldom attend dinners with other lawyers. “We tend to spend more time hanging out on street corners with homeless people.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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