The Lynch List, 30-Aug-2010

August 30, 2010

First: Out of Quebec, it’s now a human right to be transported to school – from anywhere. A Catholic School Board has to pay an autistic student $13,000 after it refused to transport him 33 kilometers from his therapist to an afternoon kindergarten program every day. The Tribunal simply laughed at the precedent that this would set:

The board argued the cost of providing transportation to or from therapy could “substantially affect” its viability.

If all students with a disability received special needs transportation to attend therapy, as many at 11,700 could qualify at a potential cost of more than $23 million, the board’s lawyer told the tribunal.

Second: Straight from the mouth of Barbara Hall: Teasing and Taunting are Human Rights Violations (read the comments):

Teasing and taunting may sound minor, but they can also be considered harassment under the Ontario Human Rights Code if it is related to a ground of discrimination — such as disability, race, sex or sexual orientation.

Third: In the ongoing saga between Xstrata and the McIvors, it looks like mob tactics are next:

The injured, laid-off Xstrata Nickel worker is optimistic a meeting with company officials Monday morning will get him his job back at the Anglo-Swiss miner.

In case it doesn’t, McIvor, his wife Vicky, a couple of other injured, laid-off workers and their supporters have planned a rally for Tuesday afternoon to ensure their voices are heard.

Expect this one to be in the OHRT in the new year.

Fourth: Check out this job posting for a Human Rights Agitator Advocate:

The Advocate provides and assists with advocacy in Human Rights cases – primarily with complaints to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. Due to recent cuts in legal aid and the general disintegration of services and funding, many non-profit agencies are struggling to keep up with the demand – responding to the effects of systemic discrimination is very challenging for one advocate. The time sensitive nature of the processes and the limited number of advocacy hours requires knowledge of community resources and alternative means of advocacy and expression is key to ensuring the greatest success for individuals.

If you want an idea of the mindset of the organization, check out their politically correct address at the bottom.

Fifth: Here’s a funny one. The BCHRT is refusing to accommodate one of its ideal complainants, one who will ensure reams of complaints in the future. The complainant is non-ambulatory and suffers from hyperacusis, an over-sensitivity to sound, and therefore has a “right to accommodation” from everyone within earshot. Yet the Human Rights Tribunal won’t accommodate the complainant’s demands to serve him hand and foot. What’s that cliche about a dose of one’s own medicine?

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The Lynch List, 24-Aug-2010

August 25, 2010

Thanks to Amnesty International for stating the obvious: Canada is a Noted Human Rights Pariah State. Only we disagree with the reasons for such a designation – I think it’s because of the encroachment on our fundamental freedoms, while Amnesty believes it’s because we don’t fund special interest and grievance groups enough. Sigh…

First: If you ever needed proof that the Human Rights Commissions have the ability to create new laws, look no further than the 2003 Supreme Court decision on Bell Canada v Canadian Association of Telephone Employees.

In Bell Canada, the SCC found that guidelines issued by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (“CHRC”) were “akin to law” and constituted hard law.

The paragraph within the decision regarding this point goes as follows:

While it may have been more felicitous for Parliament to have called the Commission’s power a power to make “regulations” rather than a power to make “guidelines”, the legislative intent is clear.  A functional and purposive approach to the nature of these guidelines reveals that they are a form of law, akin to regulations.  It is also worth noting that the word used in the French version of the Act is ordonnance — which leaves no doubt that the guidelines are a form of law.

Second: This complaint belies the true purpose of the modern re-interpretation of human rights: the expansion of the responsibilities of government (emphasis mine).

A Bouctouche, N.B., woman is taking her fight with the province’s Department of Health over the lack of funding for her prescription drug costs to the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission…

Owen said the Department of Health has an obligation to help people who are overwhelmed by drug costs.

Third: The complaint before the BCHRT between a strata council and a resident suffering from COPD has been settled, with the council paying for “pain and suffering” and legal costs.


The Lynch List, 23-Aug-2010

August 23, 2010

The holiday version of the Lynch List:

First: The Human Rights Commission of Ontario had another “balancing of rights” problem on its hands. That is, how to balance a disabled child’s right to scream racial epithets at summer camp (in the name of accommodation) against the right not to be discriminated against. The disabled child won – his exclusion from future summer camps as a result of his behaviour was ruled discriminatory, and the camp was required to pay $12,000 in injury to dignity. I wonder who is going to pay to compensate the injury to dignity of those fellow campers of African ancestry who are subject to continuing ethnic slurs?

A letter-to-the-editor echoes the incredulity:

What about the dignity, feelings and self-respect of the children who were on the receiving end of his racial slurs and misbehaviour? Do they get a payout as well?

A second letter recognizes that this will further discourage charitable and not-for-profit organizations:

For those bleeding hearts who would hail this human rights tribunal ruling as progress, it will do nothing to create programs for disabled folks and will serve only to dry up the good work of communities and organizations.

Second: Another complaint is brewing over women in sports. This time, the Pan-Am Games are in their sights. Several events only have competitions for the men, supposedly because too few female athletes are available to provide any sort of competition. But the same group that wasted taxpayers’ money during the Olympics in trying to force the international Olympic Commission to hold female ski-jumping is now about to travel the same route again. In her article, Laura Robinson comes across as more sexist than the men she rails against (“not one penny of public funds should go towards a stadium that is devoted to a men’s professional, privately owned sport…”)

Third: The BC Human Rights Tribunal has reserved the right to examine and set home-care fees in that province. Who needs cabinet ministers when the local HRT feels it has the power to make all these decisions?

Fourth: An update on Warman vs Levant, from the National Post:

A judge has ordered anti-hate lawyer Richard Warman to turn over a laptop computer he used to create false personas on far-right websites, so that an independent expert can search it for evidence that Mr. Warman authored a racist comment against a Canadian senator.


The Lynch List, 13-Aug-2010

August 13, 2010

The Lynch List will go on hiatus for a week, but be back before August is through:

First: Asking Human Rights Tribunals to keep accurate transcripts may have “unintended consequences“, says the BC Appeal Court:

They are particularly concerned that such recordings and transcripts made from them could disrupt the aim of administrative law statutes: expeditious and efficient dispute settlement.

If such transcripts were available for later judicial review, the tendency would be almost irresistible for the parties involved to conduct wide-ranging examinations rather than presenting focused briefs.

The article goes on to describe how the BCHRT dodged this type of accountability:

The companies’ representatives and the tribunal were at loggerheads throughout and the firms wanted a record of the proceedings.

SELI asked the tribunal to provide a court reporter; it refused.

SELI sought permission to tape the proceedings on a recorder provided by the tribunal, but it again declined.

Finally, SELI asked permission to record the hearing, acknowledging that the recordings would not be “part of the official record.”

This request was granted on condition copies of the tapes were provided daily to the Construction and Specialized Workers’ Union, Local 1611, and the tribunal, and that any transcripts were provided too.

Second: This is the right way to go about seeking alternative treatments for diseases like Multiple Sclerosis. If there is a treatment available in a different country that you’re willing to try, then fundraise to pay for it. Your neighbors and fellow citizens are by and large good people, and you shouldn’t have much of a problem raising the money if you have a good case:

But not one to give up, Hutchinson has continued searching for alternate answers, and the former real estate agent believes a new experimental “liberation” treatment offered in places such as Poland and Bulgaria offer hope of a normal, pain-free life.

That’s why Oram is holding a fundraising event this Saturday, Aug. 14 at the Artful Dodger Pub in Fernridge.

But here’s how not to go about it: claiming that such treatments are your “right” and everyone else should be forced to pay for them:

While Hutchinson is among about 80 patients in B.C. who have filed a class-action claim with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal [MS patient battles for treatment, Aug. 6, Langley Advance], she’s hoping to travel to Poland next month for the surgery.

Third: Walker Morrow at the Propagandist reports that the changes at the BCHRT might not be so good for us after all:

all that part-time stuff is a thing of the past. BC’s Ministry of the Attorney General has said that not only will Bernd Walter ( that’s his real name, not a typo ) have a full-time position, his replacement will be on a full-time basis as well.


The Lynch List, 11-Aug-2010

August 11, 2010

They may be trying to fly under the radar, but the Lynch Mob keeps ’em honest…

First: Barbara Hall has received a promotion, and no, it’s not the Tony Hayward-esque promotion that you were hoping for. Rather than Siberia, Hall is now going to head up CASHRA, the national association of human rights agencies. Oh joy. But never fear – this position isn’t a full-time one, so she will still be terrorizing the citizens of Ontario for years to come…

Second: Further developments on the complaint against the DVBIA’s Ambassador program: one employee understood that she was supposed to patrol public areas to “improve the safety of the public”. Heaven forbid – the homeless have a human right to illegally camp, drink, and use drugs in public property, don’t they?

Third: The woman who was able to board a bus while openly breastfeeding is dropping her complaint, apparently satisfied that her demands have been met.

Fourth: Another case of the Tribunal forcing complainants to break other laws? Turbans and hardhats.


The Lynch List, 09-Aug-2010

August 9, 2010

Here we go…

First: Boy slips on wet grass in gym class. Time for a human rights complaint. Not to mention it looks like the mother has a history of butting heads with public school officials:

However, when the boy was in Grade 4, and still receiving a maintenance dose of chemotherapy, a disagreement developed between the mother and school staff about the level of support he required.In September of 2008, the boy began attending school in West Vancouver and started going to Pauline Johhnson in January of 2009. But again, disagreements developed between the mother and school staff about the kind of support her son should have.

Ah, there’s nothing like a good parent-teacher conference with an army of BCHRT mediators in attendance.

Second: Okay, I’m all for respect and encouragement for Canadians wishing to have a family. But the concept of the prohibition of discrimination on “family status” is way overboard. Basically, once you have a kid, you have a human right to pick your own working hours:

Both before going on maternity leave and before returning to work in 2004, Johnstone had asked her employer if she could come back on an altered schedule, one in which she worked three static 13-hour shifts a week, with no preferred start time.

Third: Okay, I’m all for respect and encouragement of Canada’s breastfeeding mothers. But have you ever heard of someone breastfeeding while getting onto a bus? I’ve never had the opportunity to nurse an infant but it strikes me as somewhat awkward to be walking and breastfeeding at the same time. Even more awkward to be doing it completely uncovered in public. At any rate, it’s a human right to do so

Fourth: A good read: Michael Veck from the Canadian Center for Policy Studies: Human Rights as a Dangerous Ideological Abstraction:

The trend today consists in converting into “human rights” all manners of personal demands, wishes, and interests. In this view, individuals would have the “human right” to satisfy any and all demands simply because they can formulate them. Nowadays, to demand one’s “human rights” is only a way to maximize one’s interests. Reduced to a wish list or letter to Santa Claus and posited as needs, “human rights” continuously proliferate without anybody even bothering to justify their raison d’etre.


The Lynch List, 06-Aug-2010

August 6, 2010

Hoping you are all having a refreshing summer:

First: All right, picture this. You’re at the buffet of an expensive restaurant, and you are about to ask for a medium-rare cut of prime rib when a black Labrador puts its paws on the cutting board and gives the roast a good sniff. Comfortable yet? A health inspector told a restaurant manager after a complaint from an allergic customer that that dogs, including service dogs, are not allowed at buffet tables. Instead, the staff are instructed to wait on any customers with a service dog.

That didn’t stop a disabled customer from starting a screaming match with the restaurant management when they enforced these demands of the Board of Health. In addition, she is launching a human rights complaint and is likely to win. This is another chapter of the ongoing saga of whose rights are more important: those in need of a service dogs or those allergic to dogs.

Second: Why have municipal councils? We can save a lot of money (and time wasted on election campaigns) by getting rid of them, now that the Ontario Human Rights Commissions is micromanaging them. The OHRC re-designed the bus stops in St. Thomas after a complaint from a visually-impaired man. Interestingly, the complainant demands discrimination against car-drivers in his complaint (emphasis mine):

Taylor appealed the issue to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, arguing it was discriminatory to force bus riders to walk across a wide parking lot to get to the businesses, especially when privately owned vehicles could park closer.

Are transit users a “protected group”?

Third: Funny, the Toronto Star is usually fully supportive when groups are calling for the enshrinement of new rights, especially economic rights. Not in this editorial. Why? That’s because a conservative think-tank is calling for a charter of economic freedom. Can’t have that.

Fourth: Since when does a Human Rights Tribunal ever care about costs to the public treasury? And when do they ever need proof before meddling in the government’s business? So when a leading Canadian neurologist says that a controversial new MS treatment is both immensely costly and has no proven benefit, expect him to be ignored by the BCHRT as it processes a complaint demanding public funding for the procedure.

Fifth: Shawn Atleo is completely correct when he implies that the Indian Act contravenes fundamental human rights. After all, legislation that enshrines special rights and privileges, and takes other rights and privileges away on the basis of ancestry has no place in a free and democratic society. We’ll see what else he has in mind, but appealing to international bodies for help isn’t a step in the right direction.