Bhinder Sajan, right to left, Shannon Waters, Liza Yuzda, Justine Hunter, Jen Holmwood, Katie DeRosa, Tanya Fletcher and Kylie Stanton pose for a photo at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on Thursday, March 28, 2019. A dress code debate at British Columbia’s legislature has prompted some women staff and journalists to roll up their sleeves in protest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Drik Meissner

Bare arms, no ties should be allowed at B.C. Legislature: report

Indigenous, traditional and religious garb is also allowed

Bare arms for women, no ties for men and Indigenous and religious attire are all acceptable dress for the B.C. Legislature, according to a report released by the acting clerk this week.

The report was spawned by the controversy over female MLA’s “right to bare arms” – to wear sleeveless tops and dresses in the legislature.

In March, acting sergeant-at-arms Randy Ennis said members of his office’s staff were enforcing a decades-old rule about proper attire in the legislature. A subsequent preliminary review of the legislature’s dress code said women could wear sleeveless dresses and shirts.

In Tuesday’s report from the acting clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd, she said while “professional contemporary business attire” is still expected of all members of the legislature, there needs to be an understanding that the particulars of that will change along with social norms.

This means “for women, professional business attire includes a range of contemporary conventional options, which may include sleeveless dresses, sleeveless shirts, and blouses.”

The dress code controversy extended beyond MLAs, when reporters and staffers in the legislature were also told to cover up.

Deputy Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said a woman on her staff was told to wear a slip under a dress deemed too clingy by legislature officials.

“Heaven forbid people realize she has limbs under her skirt! The women in this building are here to work, not dress for outdated rules,” Furstenau posted on social media.

Outside the B.C. Legislature, former prime minister Kim Campbell stirred up controversy in 2018 when she said female journalists should not wear sleeveless dresses on television.

READ MORE: Women at B.C. legislature told to cover up bare arms

READ MORE: Sleeveless dresses are OK, B.C. legislature speaker says in dress code update

READ MORE: Kim Campbell says female broadcasters should not bare arms


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