The Lynch List, 09-Jul-2012

July 9, 2012

First: Equality of Opportunity is a much-abused buzz-statement. I have argued in the past that this is a codeword for Equality of Outcome, and been criticized for it.

A new report from the CHRC analyzes the “equality of opportunity” for the disabled, their key findings reported that the disabled are less likely to have less net worth and median household income. Those sound like outcomes, not opportunities, to me. In addition, they assessed whether the disabled were as likely to complete a university degree, hold a full-time job, have a work-supported pension, use technology, feel like they are socially included, and have comfortable housing. Even obesity is part of “equality of opportunity”.

Equality of opportunity is a Trojan Horse to usher in equality of outcome, which cannot exist together with equality under the law. They are mutually exclusive.

Second: Another T-shirt flap, only this one is at a completely different venue: the workplace. The content of the “Life without Jesus is wasted” t-shirt that William Swinimer wore to his high school, and the “Legalize Gay” t-shirt that Heidi Carrier wore to her workplace, are approximately in the same league. Both express a deeply held belief, a call to act, and an insinuation that opposing beliefs are wrong-headed. Both could be offensive to some people, and neither is obscene.

But the main difference between the two scenarios is the context. A school is a public institution that theoretically exists solely for the benefit of the public, whose rules, and the application of them, should be subject to scrutiny by the public that foots its bills. A business is a private entity that exists for the profit of the owner. He has every motivation to ensure a harmonious workplace and an environment most appealing to customers. Nobody is forced to work at the business, and the taxpayer is typically not exposed to its costs or business risks. If Ms. Carrier doesn’t like the application of the company’s dress code, she is free to look for work elsewhere – the company owes her nothing.

Third: I couldn’t resist. Since property rights are essentially ignored in Canada’s “human rights” landscape, it’s poetic justice that our Human Rights Museum was burglarized.

Fourth: Some good commentary on the case involving the wrongful arrest of a black man – acting “reasonably under the circumstances” is not a defence any longer in the human rights tribunal.

The Lynch List, 02-Jul-2012

July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day!

First: Should taxpayer-funded Canadian universities be allowed to ban Falun Gong practitioners from employment? Of course not, you would think. Yet it happens. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, as state-sanctioned positive discrimination abounds in our halls of higher learning – why not extend it a little to get millions of dollars from Beijing?

And this is the predictable result of human rights codes and other statist initiatives that purportedly intend to stamp out discrimination – people lose their freedom while the government gains moral backing for its own discrimination.

Second: Toronto is attempting to argue in court that the human rights commissions and tribunals have no jurisdiction over municipal bylaws. It may be going out on a limb, but someone’s gotta do something to stop Barb from becoming the unelected mayor of every municipality in Ontario.

If the human rights hearing goes ahead it will open the door to more challenges by the Human Rights Commission, which has already signalled that it intends to go this route.

Third: I feel compelled to comment on the story of the elderly bus monitor who was bullied by students a short time ago. Compelled, because it proves several things that I have always been saying.

To begin with, Ontario’s Bill 13 would do nothing to protect this poor woman had this incident occurred in Ontario. The assumption within all recent anti-bullying legislation is that the victims of bullies are, or appear to be, gay. This woman was not gay, and therefore gets little or no sympathy from the backers of these sorts of legislation.

Next, would a human rights code have helped this woman if the bullying occurred in a district that had one? The woman was ridiculed over her son’s suicide, and her looks. None of that, on first glance, falls under any of the human rights victimhood classes, so this sort of behavior is just peachy from a human rights perspective.

Finally, let’s look at the response that this poor woman got from society. Did she get back at them with a human rights complaint? Did a taxpayer-funded bureaucrat make everything all better? Did some government agency step in over the school administration’s head and extract thousands of dollars from the kids’ hide for “injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect”? No. Instead, society responded like it should have. The boys were suspended from their school by the administration. A Toronto man raised over $500,000 for the woman, all of it voluntarily given, so that she could “take a nice holiday” (the original goal was $5,000). Many other individuals and groups, without any compulsion of a Tribunal or nasty letter from Barbara Hall, are honoring this woman in whatever way they can, and expressing their derision for the bullies.

That’s how bullying should be handled.

The Lynch List, 25-Jun-2012

June 25, 2012

First: I can certainly sympathize with Mr. Maynard who was arrested by Ontario Police at gunpoint despite being completely innocent. Police were looking for a suspect with a very limited description – “young black man with a gun” – and instantly became suspicious of Mr. Maynard, who is young and black. But to award him $40,000 for his trouble is ludicrous.

I was once driving to work at 4 AM in a green Chevrolet car, only to have three police cruisers come out of nowhere and box me in at a train crossing. I was told to get out of the car and put my hands on the roof. I honestly couldn’t tell if the police had their guns drawn, but I doubt it. Nevertheless, it was a heart-stopping and borderline traumatic experience to be cornered like that. The police explained that they had two reports of attempted home invasions in my neighborhood with the suspect fleeing in a green car. Checking my driver’s licence and finding that I lived in the area (and that my engine was still cold as a stone) they let me go.

I thanked the officers – for doing what they could to keep my neighborhood safe. I have no reason to doubt that the officers in Mr. Maynard’s case were not seized by the same motive, the protection of the public.

Nevertheless, I guess I could have been $40K richer had I complained that they discriminated against me based on my car color.

Second: The Calgary Herald argues in favour of drug testing on the oilpatch, which is a no-brainer. However, their analysis of human rights precedents reveals a troubling inconsistency which may lead to unintended consequences:

…there is conflicting legal precedence as to whether recreational users are protected under human rights law. Persons with disabilities who become drug dependent are subject to human rights protection…

So if you test positive, the best way to save your job is to get addicted. Great message to be sending.

Third: BC has passed a reasonable law that provides persons who suffer long-term mental health effects from workplace bullying and harassment with redress from their employers. On face value, it seems to have appropriate safeguards from abuse, and requires considerable proof before a complaint can be substantiated. But there still remains a loophole. If you are a member of a “protected group”, you can have your case shifted to the Human Rights Tribunal, that operates under a drastically reduced burden of proof, a reversal of onus, and biased administrators with a track record of lunacy.

You would think that “equality” would mean that the law applies equally to everyone. Not in Canada.

Fourth: “Burnie” Farber comes to the defence of Richard Warman and Section 13:

Richard launched 16 cases that went to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT), virtually every one of those cases involved outright calls for genocide and/or ethnic cleansing.

Thing is, Mr. Farber, that we already have a law that bans speech inciting genocide and/or ethnic cleansing. Mr. Warman simply didn’t want to go through all the work of prosecuting his personal war through courts that actually respect the rights of the defendant and demand a substantial burden of proof.

Fifth: It’s coming! You are already a special person if you drink too much or pump too much poison into your veins. Soon you will be entitled to special rights if you eat too much.

The Lynch List, 18-Jun-2012

June 18, 2012

First: The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has found out that it’s not exactly easy to abide by all the demands for accessibility that it routinely imposes on Canadian businesses and government agencies. Its own website has been out of commission for the past six months because it doesn’t have the resources to make it accessible to the visually impaired. Unfortunately, this means that the Tribunal has merrily been going about its business infringing the rights of Canadians without having to make its decisions public. Otherwise I might have taken the chance to revel in a rare bit of schadenfreude

Second: I am genuinely surprised that the federal government didn’t head this very scenario off at the pass when it rightly extended the Canadian Human Rights act to persons and entities governed under the Indian Act. I say “rightly”  a bit tongue-in-cheek – even bad laws should still be applied to everyone equally, especially one under the ruse of “human rights” since to do otherwise implies that some are more “human” than others.

Nevertheless, many human rights complaints have focused on what was before a constitutional certainty – that the federal government has jurisdiction over on-reserve services. The argument goes that if provincial governments provide human-rightsish services such as child welfare and education, then it would be discrimination for the federal government to provide inferior services. It highlights that our constitution is prima facie discriminatory in that it defines some Canadians as “status” and others “non-status”. But alas, our discriminatory constitution cannot be overruled by quasi-constitutional statutes like the human rights codes.

Let me give you an example. Say every provincial government was forced to re-jig their funding formulae for a range of services to match what the federal government supplied via the Indian Act. That would clearly be an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers between the federal and provincial government. So why is it any less constitutional for provincial governments to dictate the on-reserve funding formulae that is within the jurisdiction of the federal government?

The answer is simple, and acting Commissioner David Langtry has on many occasions made it clear. The Human Rights Act, regardless of its original intentions, is now being used to impose a substantial enlargement of the welfare state and bypass Parliament in the process.

Third: Dear Mr. Rudner: You claim that “the law does not extend any more protection to [persons who are member of a protected group] than it does to anyone else.” While that may be technically true in a legal sense, the reality is much different. A complainant’s membership in any “protected group” that has historically, in the eyes of the Tribunal, been the victim of discrimination, automatically shifts the onus of proof onto the employer. While there are cases in which the employer is ultimately vindicated, Commissions and Tribunals have been clear that they want to see the legal defences of discrimination interpreted as narrowly as possible. This, in practice, presents a significant barrier to the exercise of an employer’s rights in the workplace when it comes to persons who belong to such groups.

UPDATE: Though the original article seems to have been taken down, Mr. Rudner did respond:

Thanks for your comment. I do appreciate the fact that employers are sometimes put in the position where they have to effectively prove a negative – that they did not discriminate based on prohibited grounds. I have worked with many clients facing such circumstances. However, the case referenced in the original post and many others demonstrate that where no factual nexus exists between the decision (for example, dismissal) and the protected ground, no breach of the legislation will be found.

Fourth: Reverse onus? Mr. Alan Shanoff at the Law Times seems to have read my mind!

But both [Constable Shaw and the Peel Law Association librarian] were fulfilling what they reasonably saw as their responsibilities and I’m not prepared to accept that either is a racist or guilty of a violation of our Human Rights Code. I refuse to employ a reverse onus and am willing to provide the benefit of the doubt before labelling someone a racist.

Fifth: William Watson at the Post dismantles the “pay equity” nonsense.

In a free market for work, some people may well agree to wages others wouldn’t. But if one group’s wages are held down artificially or systematically or even systemically, so that their pay is significantly less than their economic value, that provides a wonderful profit opportunity for business. Hiring more underpaid workers means making more money, which most businesses presumably want to do. Moreover, workers themselves can profit by moving to the higher-paid jobs, assuming their unions will let them. As businesses hire more and more of the “exploited” workers and as workers themselves move to unexploited occupations, wages will rise where they were “too low” and fall where they were “too high.”

The Lynch List, 11-Jun-2012

June 11, 2012

First: Section 13 is dead. At least as far as Parliament is concerned. Brian Storseth’s Bill C-304 was debated in the House for the last time, and subsequently passed third and final reading. Now all that remains is for the Senate to get off their duffs and get this thing through their Chamber forthwith.

The Chronicle-Herald editorializes in favour

The Toronto Star gives a hip-hip-hurrah

The Edmonton Sun puts Storseth on their shoulders

And a big shout out to Liberal MP Scott Simms who supported this bill from day 1.

Second: The BCHRT continues its assault on reason and the presumption of innocence:

Tribunal member Robert B. Blasina found the reasons insufficient to explain why a visually impaired person should not be considered for the job.

He found discrimination based on a physical disability and awarded $3,000 in damages for injury to Khalil’s dignity and feelings.

Third: You’re only allowed to discriminate if you have been certified as an Official Discriminator by the government

The Gabriel Dumont Institute has permission from the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission to hire affirmatively (EX93-15).
Please self-identify as a person of Metis Ancestry in your application.

Fourth: Even the lawyers who stand to gain are noting that human rights awards for “injury to dignity” are continuously escalating.

Fifth: Regardless of your beliefs on this matter, I’d like you to note that there has never been a substantiated human rights complaint over pro-lifers being routinely arrested for displaying symbols of their cause within a certain distance of an abortion facility. Barabara Hall has never issued a scathing pronouncement in support of Linda Gibbons. The BCHRT has never found that anti-abortionists have a right to urinate and wear hiking boots while demonstrating near an abortion facility. So why is it then a human rights violation for demonstrators – who have vowed to disrupt the Montreal Grand Prix – to be stopped and questioned by Quebec police when wearing the political symbol of their cause?

The Lynch List, 04-Jun-2012

June 4, 2012

First:And you thought Barbara Hall was bad? How about failed election candidate Bernie “Burny” Farber?

The rumour mill has it that former Canadian Jewish Congress leader and Ontario Liberal candidate Bernie Farber is a contender to replace Hall.

As Anthony Furey points out, Mr. Farber doesn’t like the word “tolerance” because it “is far from accepting, or better yet, celebrating each other…”. You mean, meticulously-choreographed North-Korea-style forced celebrations? I’m sure Barbara would be on-board with that, if only the “highest law in the province” (the Ontario Human Rights Code) allowed her to.

Second: As part of the speech in which Hall insinuated that the Ontario parliament had to bow before her pronouncements, Hall makes plenty more statements that are fodder for this blog (somewhat paraphrased):

– The Human Rights Code already includes gender identity as a “prohibited ground of discrimination”. Barb read that into her legislation. You boneheaded parliamentarians are just starting to catch up to the fact that I make the laws around here, and you follow behind with the piece of paper that makes it legal.

– Private schools shouldn’t be exempt from Bill 13, which mandates gay-straight alliances in all schools but doesn’t seem to care much for the 94% of bullying that doesn’t involve sexual orientation. Heck, why stop at private schools? Churches, rotary clubs, pick-up basketball games, and even individual families should be forced to have these clubs too!

– That infernal right to freedom of expression is just a ‘peripheral right’ and can be overridden with abandon. After all, when a real right conflicts with a made-up one, I get to pick and choose which right to take away from you.

– It’s important to name the groups that we are targeting with bullying legislation. That way we don’t need to care about all the bullied kids who don’t fall in these groups. A little discrimination makes my job much easier.

– We support re-education of all teachers, students, administration, and the public if they don’t share my beliefs. So-called freedom of religion, after all, is another ‘peripheral’ right.

Third: These two guys bring up a salient point that is worth a discussion amongst the adults of this nation. that point is, should the state have the power to ban masks during protests. Unfortunately, the protagonists aren’t employing an appropriate forum to work out the matter. They plan to file a human rights complaint, alleging that their right to security of their person is being violated because they want to protest potentially violent whackos without their identity being discovered:

I file this formal complaint on the grounds that the new Montreal City bylaw violates my freedoms under the Quebec Charter, thus placing myself and others in danger of physical harm and threats from the Church of Scientology.

This reasoning is flawed. I could use the same to argue that I need land mines in my lawn to protect myself from home invaders. Instead, they should pursue the issue along the lines that one’s choice of clothing – including a mask – is part and parcel with our right to freedom of expression.

…but we all know how much Quebec’s human rights apparatus values that right.

Fourth: Another turban controversy, this time in soccer. To which I reply, as always, if it’s good for the Sikh, it’s good for the Secular. Should the Sikh get to wear headgear, then so can the non-Sikh.

Fifth: Barb wants a holiday in her honor. Well, I guess it doesn’t mention her specifically, but still…

The Lynch List, 28-May-2012

May 28, 2012

First: At the risk of employing the lowest form of humour, I can’t help but say that our fundamental liberties are being trampled on again. A fitness club has lost the right to enforce a dress code, and has been ordered to shell out $1900 to a man who wanted to wear hiking boots in the club. (decision is here)

You might be incredulous that the complainant couldn’t perform the very small portion of his workout regimen, indeed the only portion that required the hiking boots but no other equipment, in another place, even his own home. But you should be disgusted at the Tribunal’s definition of “disability”, under which grounds the complaint was substantiated. He suffered a “judo injury” a few years prior, from which he experienced “some pain”.

Under that definition, everyone who plays any manner of contact sports could classify as disabled, which in modern human-rights-land enables them to ride roughshod over the rights of others. As I’ve said many times before, it’s a slap in the face of the truly disabled for whom much of daily life is already a challenge.

Marni Soupcoff has more.

Second: Here is my objection to the wrong-headed kirpan settlement in Ontario – my long-standing objection to religious accommodation in general. If it’s okay for a law-abiding Sikh to wear an 8-inch blade into courthouses, then it should be okay for any other law-abiding citizen to do the same. Ditto with niqabs in the witness stand – I should be able to testify with a ski-mask on. And as for Christians and Jews who demand the state intervene to force their employers to grant them time off for holy days, the same provision should be extended to all regardless of faith – or better yet, extended to nobody at all.

The state should never be in the position of determining the authenticity of a person’s faith and/or religion and its proceeding practice. Instead, they should only be concerned with balancing the security against its consequential and necessary suppression of liberty.

Tarek Fatah blames the capitulation on the “guilt-ridden, bleeding heart white liberals” like Barbara Hall.

Third: Acting Commissioner David Langtry has said as much before, but clearly he’s not backing down. He spoke at a conference at York University recently:

“I believe that the Canadian Human Rights Act is potentially a new tool to address poverty

It was originally a tool to address discrimination. No amendments have been made to transform it into a weapon of wealth redistribution. But our CHRC appears to regard it as such.

Fourth: Where do failed election candidates end up? If they ran for the eventual ruling party, they get appointments to human rights tribunals. At least Robert Malo did.

Fifth: A human rights complaint is being filed by a Quebec bureaucrat working in the education ministry who was told to cease wearing symbols and slogans that support the province’s so-called “student strike”. Apparently it’s now your human right to openly demonstrate against your employer’s interests during work hours.

Sixth: Let me try this one out. If the infamous “bathroom bill” is passed in Ontario (a similar one has been introduced federally by MP Randall Garrison) , the entire concept of sex and gender becomes relative to one’s “identity” and “expression”, instead of their biology.

Can I try this too? I’d like to self-identify as Aboriginal when it comes to tax-time or should I ever come before a judge for sentencing. I shouldn’t need a doctor’s note to self-identify as disabled and force everyone to accommodate my whims (and footwear). I can self-identify as a woman when payday rolls around, so that I can demand the same pay as a male co-worker with far more experience and education but happens to have the same title. I could also self-identify as Cherokee when I want to score completely unearned points with university faculty. And, self-identifying as 19 would have helped me get me into bars or acquire my driver’s license at a biological, but arbitrary, age of 13…

The Lynch List, 21-May-2012

May 21, 2012

First: While I admit I have far more contempt than sympathy for Quebec’s snivelling student body (well, at least 1/3 of it) who are being well paid by the unions to wreak political havoc, nothing tests one’s principles more than their application to persons and/or ideas that one despises. Bill 78 contains much to be alarmed about, in the fashion that it appears in some cases to punish protesting and not lawbreaking.

Harsh penalties for protesters that physically prevent other students from attending class? He didn’t go far enough. In my opinion, it’s as much a hate crime as any other – assault on a person solely for their political views.

But the inane requirement for protests to give police 24 hours notice of the route and timing of a protest involving more than 50 people? If there is to be traffic disruptions, then well and good, but there doesn’t appear to be that distinction in the legislation. Even more eye-rolling is the demand for student leaders to encourage their students to comply with the law. Again, a negative stipulation would do instead of the positive – it is already illegal for an individual or organization to counsel another to break the law, and there’s no reason that the student groups couldn’t be charged under this principle.

It’s clear that Charest’s government doesn’t care much for fundamental human rights.

Second: The UN is the godfather of modern human “rights”, and so there is much to learn about the way that they attempt to apply them. John Ivison examines the rhetoric used by the UN Special Rapporteur on the “right to food”, noting first that he is wrong on his statistics. But more important, it is obvious that the UN’s efforts are to spread a particular political ideology – socialism – under the guise of human rights.

When asked whether all this didn’t smack a little of discredited bureaucratic socialist welfare systems that are currently crumbling all over Europe, he replied that it is the countries with generous social welfare programs that have proven most robust.

When Canada’s own fiscal constraints were raised, he said “the deficit is a pretext used for limiting social benefits.”

…kinda like the morbidly obese claiming that their health problems are a pretext to limit junk food intake. Brian Lilley has more.

Third: I won’t go into the details of the latest tiff between the Akwesasne  Mowhawks and the Canadian Border Security Agency, but I want to draw your attention to one thing:

…the MCA is also pursuing legal action against the CBSA on the same grounds as complaints filed with the CHRC in previous years.

The CBSA settled previous complaints in good faith through the mediation process. Yet they’re being sued “on the same grounds”. How does that compute?

Fourth: Looks like Bill C-304 is successfully making its way through parliament. Godspeed!