Well, it’s that time of day again, when I talk about all the people who are talking about Jennifer Lynch and her wonderful multi-coloured commission – with gratuitous mentions of various other commissions, commissioners, and friends-of-commissions and commissioners of course.
First off, Russ Hiebert, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale Tory MP, gives Jennifer Lynch a dressing down in the National Post:
Recently, Canadian Human Rights Commission chief Jennifer Lynch criticized me for relying on “one source that is full of misinformation,” in my parliamentary study of the CHRC ( “Canadians ‘misinformed’ on hate speech,” June 22). It may surprise Ms. Lynch to learn that the source of my “misinformation” is her own commission and its companion body, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
Every question I raised in committee about the lack of due process and an ethics code for commission employees, and the absence of rules of evidence, came from commission and tribunal documents, many of which are currently available on the commission’s own website ( http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca).The transcripts of tribunal hearings provide telling evidence of the wayward approach the commission’s investigators take in prosecuting their cases. Recent hearings, such as the Marc Lemire case, have revealed that current CHRC investigator Dean Steacy and former CHRC investigator Richard Warman regularly posted neo-Nazi diatribes under assumed names on white supremacist web-sites. Further, uncontradicted expert evidence presented before the hearing demonstrated that investigator Steacy illegitimately used an unsuspecting private citizen’s wireless Internet service to post his offensive comments.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the commission asked the tribunal to exclude the media from the hearing that day. Fortunately, for the sake of accountability, a secret hearing was rejected and we know more about the CHRC’s inner workings.
However, other hearings have been held in secret, as Ms. Lynch has admitted, supposedly for the “safety” of a witness but contrary to the ancient right of being able to face one’s accuser in court. Indeed, in the ongoing case of firstname.lastname@example.org. email@example.com,the commission hasn’t even revealed the identity of the complainant. Interestingly, the commission’s website does name the complainant for 12 of the 14 hate speech cases that have come before the tribunal in the last eight years: Richard Warman. Ms. Lynch’s deputy appeared before my committee in Parliament recently and admitted that the commission does not have to follow rules of evidence or legal procedure, but merely has “operating procedures” that identify the timelines for addressing complaints. To put that in plain English: defendants have no guarantee of a fair hearing.
A 2003 internal government review of the CHRC found that the commission scored only 2.5 out of five on an ethics test. The review recommended the commission adopt an ethics code, which it has still not done. Given the questionable activities of its investigators, perhaps it is time for Ms. Lynch to revisit this recommendation.
I’ll let the readers decide who is “misinformed.”
Thanks to blogger Binks for emailing that to me. You can also read Russ’s piece in the Post’s Full Comment blog, as pointed out by Blazing Cat Fur. More commentary from No Apologies, Unclemeat, and General Brock. Meanwhile, Buckets from Bouquets of Gray offers a correction to some of what Russ had to say:
In a recent letter to the National Post you so the following.
Further, uncontradicted expert evidence presented before the hearing demonstrated that investigator Steacy illegitimately used an unsuspecting private citizen’s wireless Internet service to post his offensive comments.
This, is, mistaken on many levels.You are referring to the allegation that on Dec. 8, 2006, Dean Steacey logged into Stormfront using the IP 22.214.171.124.To begin, the technician merely identified the Bell customer who had control of the IP 126.96.36.199 on Dec. 8. He said nothing about anyone’s wireless, nor about any posts made by anyone anywhere. That is all the supposition, speculation, and conspiratorial fantasy accumulated at extremist blogs and discussion sites.Nor, in fact, did Steacey post any comments on that day, much less offensive ones. The pseudonym in question, jadewarr, has only ever made one comment at Stormfront, on Sept. 15, 2006. (It’s not offensive, by the way.) Steacey posted nothing on Dec. 8; he merely logged in on that date.This gets to the central problem with the allegation. The software used for the Stormfront bulletin board records IPs for posts, but not log-ins. A Stormfront moderator, however, has publicly attributed the IP 188.8.131.52 to jadewarr for a different date.So you can see, although you are correct to say that the “expert evidence” of the Bell technician is uncontradicted, the allegation of wifi-hacking has been investigated by the privacy commissioner and dismissed as likely the result of “a mismatch on the part of a third party”.So in a single sentence above there are at least three factual errors: the expert testimony said nothing about anyone’s wireless; Steacey did not post any comments on the day in question; and the whole allegation has been contradicted by the privacy commissioner.
The “expert evidence” to which you refer is presumably that of a Bell technician who testified on March 25, 2008. If you had bothered to read the transcripts of that testimony, you would know that he did not testify that Steacy had used “a private citizen’s wireless internet service to post his offensive comments”.
Second, have you taken a look at the mystery of the missing paragraph(s), which, well, some are saying might not be so much of a mystery? Really quite an anti-climactic thing, when you think about it.
Third, a rather interesting complaint:
PETERBOROUGH, ON, July 7, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Jim Corcoran, the owner of one of Canada’s largest and most lavish spas, has launched a human rights complaint against the Bishop of Peterborough Ontario for refusing him permission to continue to serve as an altar server.
Corcoran admits that he is homosexual and lives with another homosexual man, but says that he follows the Church’s teaching and lives a chaste lifestyle. According to the Catholic Register, Bishop Nicola De Angelis asked Corcoran to accept his decision that he not serve on the altar based upon the bishops’ desire to avoid public scandal.
Corcoran is seeking monetary damages of $25,000 from the bishop and $20,000 each from 12 parishioners who complained to the bishop about Corcoran and his roommate having been invited by the local priest to serve on the altar at Masses.
That priest, Fr. Allan Hood, of St. Michael the Archangel Parish, was not available to speak with LifeSiteNews.com.
Corcoran spoke with Michael Swan of The Catholic Register but Bishop De Angelis has not commented on the matter publicly. LifeSiteNews.com called the chancery office for more information, but there was no answer.
Fourth, in Ontario Human Rights Commission/Tribunal news, there’s a bit more on the whole…bus-stop thing from The Sudbury Star:
The Ontario Human Rights Commission is singling out three transit authorities for failing to call out bus stops for passengers, including in Greater Sudbury.
The commission is asking the Human Rights Tribunal to order transit drivers in Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Hamilton to start announcing the stops within 30 days.
Commissioner Barbara Hall says unfortunately, a handful of operators are still not accommodating the needs of the visually impaired.
The commission argues that calling out stops is needed to properly serve passengers.
Hall also wants transit staff to receive training on the importance of accessibility.
In 2007, Ontario’s 38 transit authorities agreed to start calling stops by the end of last year.
As I note in my personal blog, I think it’s safe to assume at this point in time that Barbara Hall feels all under her jurisdiction to be children, she their mother, and the OHRC and OHRT the paddle for any recalcitrant little buggers who don’t play along nicely with the others. For the record, Barbara seems a tad confused when it comes to property rights, as well.
Adjudication Boards build human rights into decisions
TORONTO, June 18 /CNW/ - Recent settlements of complaints with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing show an emerging commitment to human rights, the Ontario Human Rights Commission reports. The settlements follow the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Tranchemontagne v. the Ministry of Community and Social Services. In that decision, the Court told the Social Benefits Tribunal to apply the Code to resolve the issue before it. The Supreme Court stressed the primacy of the Code over other Ontario laws, unless the legislation governing the body expressly states that the Code will not prevail. In the case of Giresh Patel v. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Mr. Patel, a Hindu, was deemed by a Board adjudicator to have refused suitable work offered by his employer, even though this work involved food handling processes that were contrary to his religious beliefs. After Mr. Patel filed a human rights complaint against the ruling, the Board agreed to work with the OHRC to provide direction to its decision-makers, so that human rights considerations are taken into account when decisions are made on claims before the Board. The case of Carlo v. the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing involved a complaint by Mr. Carlo that the services of the Landlord and Tenant Board were not accessible to him. He had requested a number of accommodations based on disability such as producing documents in large print. As part of a settlement, the Board has agreed to review its procedures for receiving, processing and hearing applications, as well as for issuing decisions and releasing records, to make sure all of these steps are consistent with the Human Rights Code. "I am pleased to see Boards apply the Code to their work," said Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall. "All Boards have a responsibility to apply human rights in their decisions. We will continue to work in partnership with Boards and other Ontario Government agencies to help them avoid future human rights complaints; by working together, we can better serve all Ontarians."