Alright, here we go.
First off, the Catholic News Agency writes about Bishop De Angelis’ letter in response to Jim Corcoran’s complaint before the Ontario Tribunal of Human Rights.
Second, Stephanie Dearing for Digital Journal writes about a case being brought before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of Canada’s Native population:
A cadre of First Nations representatives are presenting their case against the government of Canada, starting today, at a Human Rights Tribunal Hearing being held in Ottawa.The case was launched in 2007 by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), the Assembly of First Nations (AFM), and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS). FNCFCS is “… a national non-profit organization providing services to First Nations child welfare organizations.” FNCFCS cites a number of sources that acknowledge the decades-old issue of the underfunding of aboriginal child care services, including the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), Auditor General of Canada (2008), and the National Council on Welfare (2008) among others. In a press release issued this afternoon by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Grand Chief Ron Evans said
“Canada’s Auditor General acknowledges the federal government underfunds child and family services on First Nations. We know Ottawa pays 22 per cent less for child and family services compared to provincial agencies. Underfunding results in shortfalls in care, including lack of staff on First Nations for protection, early prevention and support for children and families in crisis. Jurisdictional disputes between governments compound the problem and often result in very tragic outcomes for children, youth and families.”
Read the rest here.
Third, yet another class war that was brought before the OHRC. From JTA:
TORONTO (JTA) — Under a new policy, one of Canada’s largest universities will hold classes on the Jewish holidays.
York University in Toronto, which has been the site recently of several anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents, says its new policy is aimed at helping incoming students adjust to a heavier workload.
University officials say the move is unrelated to a complaint lodged by a York professor that the practice of canceling classes on the Jewish holidays was unfair to non-Jewish students.
York was long believed to be the only public university in North America that suspended lectures for two days on Rosh Hashanah and one day on Yom Kippur.
It began canceling classes on Jewish holidays in 1974. But history professor David Noble, who is Jewish, citing the growing diversity of the York student body, accused the university of violating Ontario’s Human Rights Code by favoring one religion over others.
The university changed its policy before the Ontario Human Rights Commission made a ruling, but Noble filed a separate complaint with the commission claiming to have suffered reprisals over the issue. A hearing on that complaint is scheduled for later this week.
“It’s the first time Jewish students will have to miss classes on the High Holidays, but we’ll just have to make sure we can work around it with our professors,” business student Matan Hazanov, president of the Jewish student group Hillel@York, told the Toronto Star.
Read it here.
Fourth, human rights in New Brunswick. From the Bugle-Observer:
A Woodstock hockey team and a Bath native will be recognized this week for their contributions to human rights.On Wednesday, the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission will be at Connell House in Woodstock to present two distinguished awards.
The 2008-2009 Woodstock High School Lady Thunder Hockey team will receive the 2009 New Brunswick Human Rights Award, while Rev. Brent Hawkes, originally from Bath, will receive the Pioneer of Human Rights Award.
Read the rest here.
Fifth, those poor complainants. By Glenn Kauth, via the Law Times:
A year after the Ontario government overhauled the human rights system, the tribunal that handles cases is finding itself busy with scores of new complainants, many of them so far unrepresented by counsel.
Squaring off against complainants without counsel is a challenge for lawyers representing respondents, Patty Murray says.For many lawyers, the changes are positive. By providing Ontarians with direct access to the tribunal, rather than first having to go through the Ontario Human Rights Commission, cases are proceeding more quickly.But the removal of the commission’s mandate to represent complainants is a challenge, especially since 70 per cent of them now go to the tribunal without a lawyer.
“There’s no question that for legal counsel, in terms of how we conduct ourselves, it puts you in a difficult situation in terms of dealing with unrepresented litigants,” says Patty Murray, a lawyer with Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP who handles human rights cases on behalf of employers.
As a result, dealing with the other side over the phone or having an off-the-record conversation may not be an option, she says. At the same time, Murray says she suspects the new direct-access system is behind a spike in the number of cases.
“My sense is you’re getting more people pursuing claims under the new process,” she says.
In its first year, in fact, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario received 2,800 complaints in addition to 1,900 cases held over from the old system.
It has held 650 mediation sessions and issued about 800 decisions, most of which were interim orders rather than final dispositions.
The goal is to dispose of the majority of cases within a year by having mediation within three to four months of an application being filed. If dispute resolution fails, the case goes to hearing.
So far, complaints are going to hearing within six to eight months of filing, according to the tribunal. Its settlement rate at mediation is about 60 per cent.
For tribunal chairman Michael Gottheil, the numbers show the organization is on track.
“Within the first six to seven months, we weren’t really ramped up to capacity because the cases were at the early stage,” he says. “The second year will give us a better indicator because that will give us a full year really ramped up.”
He says while the percentage of unrepresented applicants is high, it is because the tribunal measures that statistic at the time a person files a complaint. Often, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre will have complainants file their application themselves if they appear able to do so and then come on as counsel later when the case goes either to mediation or a hearing.
Gottheil says he doesn’t believe having people appear without a lawyer is always a problem.
“From my perspective, I’m absolutely encouraged in a way that there’s such a high percentage of self-represented
applicants because we built the model on . . . ensuring access for people who may be self-represented.”
So far, the tribunal has had to reject only 36 of 2,800 applications filed because they were incomplete, something Gottheil argues is an indicator that at least the early stages of the process are accessible to people without lawyers.
As for the later stages, he’s hopeful they will prove workable as well.
“With respect to hearings, I hope that the outcomes are based on the facts and the law,” he says. “We did a lot of training with our adjudicators. Our hearing model is an active model. So we hope that our model is one in which self-represented people can effectively participate.”
Still, some people are concerned. Margaret Parsons, executive director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, believes the new system puts victims of human rights abuses at a disadvantage compared to defendants, many of whom have greater resources. That’s because, under the new system, the commission can no longer represent complainants and investigate their cases.
Read the rest here. Can I just add that defendents in HRC proceedings have to pay their own way, including legal bills, while complainants, in fact, do not? How can you argue that it’s not fair for the complainants not to get free council anymore, when one half of the equation has had to provide for their own since the days of old?
Sixth, Paul Schneidereit writes for the Chronicle-Herald:
While we’re on the topic of freedom of expression, I want to note a major victory earlier this month in the ongoing battle against Canada’s censorial human rights commissions.
While I was off for a couple of weeks, a Canadian Human Rights tribunal ruled that the infamous Section 13 of Canada’s Human Rights Act — the part making telecommunications “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” illegal — contravenes protection of freedom of expression found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The decision by Anthanasios Hadjis, which has been much discussed in both print and in the blogosphere since being issued, basically says that since the law was amended in 1998 to allow punitive fines to be levied against anyone found to have violated the murky prohibition, the pendulum has swung too far and free speech is endangered.
I agree with those observers cautioning that though Hadjis’s decision is a landmark, his ruling, though welcome, is not binding. The federal human rights commission certainly has shown no sign of having lost any of its fervent belief in the righteousness of its censorial cause.
Though some are calling on the commission not to appeal, I hope they do. Despite the efforts of some Conservative MPs, the federal government continues to appear to be afraid to tackle the issue in the current jittery electoral climate.
Let’s get Section 13 back in the Supreme Court of Canada, one way or another, and see if it can’t be struck down for good.
Seventh, Anti-Racist Canada talks a little about Arthur Topham’s latest media appearance, if you just scroll down a little bit.
Eighth, the fine fellow over at Freedom Through Truth remarks on what could have been:
Moammar Gadhafi is not my idea of a fun guy, and his son and wife might not be my cup of tea either. While the son and daughter in law were visiting in Geneva last Fall, they were arrested for beating two of their servants in a Geneva luxury hotel. That kind of thing is not on, in Suisse.
Daddy was not pleased, so he submitted a proposal to the UN to have Switzerland divvied up between France, Italy and Germany. A little harsh, don’t you think? The UN rejected his proposal. Not sure why.
Gadhafi remained undaunted, and recalled diplomats, pulled $5 billion from Swiss banks, and threatened to cut off oil supplies. Oh, he also detained 2 Swiss businessmen and won’t let them leave Libya, without an apology for the arrest of his son, Hannibal.
Swiss President Merz traveled to Libya a few weeks back to kiss some Libyan butt, but he was rebuffed.
Now the Swiss are calling for his resignation and blaming him for screwing up the peace mission. Blame the messenger. Boy, has that guy got power.
In one way, it’s too bad Stephen Boissoin or Marc Lemire aren’t related to the great one (Not Gretzky). Could have saved a lot of money and time, theirs not ours.
Read it here.
[ UPDATE: whoops, missed something. From Scaramouche:
Paging Jennifer Lynch: Is Canada’s Queen Censor aware that the chap chosen to helm the Canadian Mausoleum of Human Rights himself holds the kind of views that have in the past been enough to get one hauled in front of one of Canada’s many “human rights” outfits? From the Winnipeg Free Press (my bolds):HIS human rights resumé is thin and his political record shows he voted against extending rights to the province’s gays and lesbians.But former Tory Leader Stuart Murray says his business acumen and strong relationship with all levels of government will make him an effective chief executive officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.“This is a chance of a lifetime to make a difference not only for Winnipeg and Canada but internationally,” said Murray Tuesday. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity for me and I am honoured to be part of it.”Murray will become the face, fundraiser and key political liaison for the museum, which is slated to open at The Forks in 2012. Murray leaves his post as president and CEO of the St. Boniface Hospital and Research Foundation, but he’s perhaps best known for the five years he spent as the leader of the Manitoba Tories.Murray said he grew up near Saskatchewan’s Gordon Reserve and its residential school and is attuned to aboriginal rights issues. And he has some world experience, travelling to Israel and elsewhere.Beyond that, he has relatively little direct experience in the human rights field. When he was Tory leader, despite saying he personally supported the rights of gays and lesbians, he voted against an NDP bill allowing them to adopt children. He didn’t show up to vote on an earlier bill extending alimony, pension and death benefits to homosexuals.But Murray said his links to Ottawa and to the business community — which will be called on again to make up a multimillion-dollar funding shortfall in capital and operating funds — are his chief strengths. He’ll be able to draw on the organizational, fundraising and business experience he earned at the helm of DOMO gas, the 1999 World Junior Hockey Championship and several fundraising campaigns for local arts groups.“More importantly, there is a team of people I am surrounded by,” said Murray. “This is going to be a conglomerate effort.”Isn’t it, oh, I dunno, completely hypocritical of a “museum” devoted to fetishizing victimhood to hire a CEO who’s so out of step with its way of thinking? Then again, even as Gail (daught of Izzy) Asper kvells about how much money she’s raised for this money pit, the Harper Government (which, bizarrely, sees the mausoleum as a way to “enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, promote respect for others, and encourage reflection and dialogue on various human rights issues”) seems to understand that the annual costs associated with running this behemoth make a CEO’s fundraising acumen far more important than his ideological soundness as defined by Canada’s “human rights” industry.
Or could Murray’s appointment be seen as the government’s somewhat subtle, roundabout way of spitting in the industry’s eye (since Harper isn’t yet prepared to do anything of substance re the rights racket like, say, getting rid of Jennifer Lynch and/or Section 13)?