Criminals barred from changing names in BC

Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia, will now prevent individuals who have committed serious crimes from changing their names. This decision follows revelations that a convicted child-killer attempted to conceal his identity with a name change.

On Monday, British Columbia’s health minister, Adrian Dix, announced that the government would introduce legislation to amend the province’s Name Act. Dix stated, “Allowing these individuals to hide their identity through a name change is extremely troubling to victims and their families and can result in safety concerns for members of the public.” The prohibition will apply to both adults and minors convicted and sentenced as adults.

Dix emphasized that the new legislation aims to enhance public safety and honor the views of affected families. The move comes after reports revealed that Allan Schoenborn, who murdered his three children in 2008, had legally changed his name to Ken John Johnson and sought a publication ban on his new identity. The ban was denied by the province’s review board.

Schoenborn was found not criminally responsible in 2010 due to a delusional disorder and was confined to a psychiatric hospital in Port Coquitlam. The proposed amendment will also apply to individuals found not criminally responsible.

Dix explained, “This legislation says that people who have been found guilty of very serious offences – violence against other people, acts against children – will not be permitted to change their name. The focus here is the offence and not the verdict.”

In April, conservative opposition leader Kevin Falcon introduced a private member’s bill with similar provisions to those in the legislation proposed by British Columbia’s New Democratic Party-led government. Falcon stated, “This is a huge problem for the safety of communities. When government balances competing interests, I put the interests of community safety well above the interest of Allan Schoenborn to have his name changed so that he can move around the community unnoticed.”

Prominent Canadian criminals such as Vince Li, Karla Homolka, and Kelly Ellard have also legally changed their names, although their new identities are publicly known.

British Columbia Premier David Eby remarked in April, “It’s obvious to all British Columbians that nobody should be able to evade accountability for their criminal activities by changing their name in this province.”

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