The Lynch List, 30-Mar-2011

March 31, 2011

First: A great editorial by Daniel Lublin on two of the many tragic flaws with the human rights tribunals:

The problem is, unlike the courts where the loser pays legal costs to the other side, human rights tribunals have no mandate to award legal costs. This serves employees’ interests but not those of their current or former employers. If employees have no risk of losing at trial and paying legal costs, why not pull the trigger on an extensive complaint?…

What’s worse is that while Sutton was provided with legal counsel at the government’s expense by the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, a provincially funded agency that pursues claims on behalf of employees, her former employer was left to fend for itself.

Second: Here’s a bright Human Rightsish idea: we should start having state employees interrogate 11-year-olds about their sexual orientation so that authorities can “curb future discrimination”. Sounds perfectly non-invasive, doesn’t it? (it’s a complete coincidence that Ignatieff’s smiling mug appeared in the ad right beside the article)

Third: Though it matters little what party they run for, it will be interesting to see how many current or former HRC/T staff are running for federal office. Oh, here’s an older one.


The Lynch List, 28-Mar-2011

March 28, 2011

Just a few quick shots for your today.

First: The feud between Jews and Jew-haters in York continues unabated; now a human rights complaint has been launched by Sammy Katz, alleging a hostile environment for Jews perpetuated by the university. The only question is, what took you so long, Sammy?

Second: The appeal in the Saguenay prayer case has now been officially filed.

Third: The rabbit-hole never ends. When the Canadian Human Rights Commission decided to play doctor and start defining disabilities on their own, despite medical evidence, it’s only a matter of time that they start to gun for a piece of that “accommodation” pie (see comment below).

The Lynch List, 25-Mar-2011

March 25, 2011

Today is a double-whammy of stupidity from the OHRC. It would be funny if it wasn’t so scary.

First: The OHRC has a list of demands for Ontario when it comes to disability access. In rejecting the Ontario government’s Integrated Accessability Plan, which sets out some ground rules – with already generous compromises – in how far businesses and organizations need to go to satisfy provincial accessibility requirements. Once again, the OHRC proves that it is not only out of touch with the reality with its open-ended demands on small businesses, it also appears to hold contempt for our elected parliament which is tasked with the creation of these ground rules.

To give a few examples, the government mandated that one car of every mass-transit train be equipped to handle the disabled; the OHRC insists that every car be equipped. Volunteer and faith-based organizations are not required to abide by the disability employment regulations; the OHRC wants both to enact the expensive requirements. Small businesses were given a grandfather clause and a timeline to full complaince; the OHRC wants to put many of them out of business by insisting on immediate and total compliance, including “accessible” websites. Furthermore, the OHRC wants to drive small publishing companies into bankruptcy by requiring every published material to also be available in “accessible” formats.

Reality is not exactly the OHRC’s strong point.

Second: A presentation to school boards and teachers by OHRC employee Evadne Macedo is frightening on several levels. First, it stresses that Ontario’s Human Rights Code is supreme over the Education Act; while this is legally true, it’s a thinly veiled threat to the Catholic schools who have demostrated some reticence in implementing the “equity” policy and have often appealed to the Education Act to assert their independence.

But going a little further, it might give you pause in sending your children to a government-regulated school in Ontario. Besides pummeling the teachers with “human rights mitigation factors” with respect to discipline, the OHRC also eviscerates such a notion as a “zero-tolerance policy”. Further, it notes that “accommodation must precede discipline”. In other words, misbehaviour is relative, and suspensions will be frowned upon by the OHRC. Unless the kid is white, able-bodied, and straight.

Even worse, teachers and school boards are required by the OHRC to proactively “address historical disadvantages”, i.e. positive discrimination or affirmative action. I don’t know about you, but giving some kids an advantage over other kids only because of their race or sexual orientation doesn’t exactly seem right.

h/t Catholic Insight 

Third: An opinion piece in the Edmonton Sun on the brouhaha over religious symbols:

The Supreme Court has embraced the common sense notion that symbols may have as much or more to do with tradition as they do with religion. In such cases, even if the ultrasensitive find the symbol “offensive,” this discomfort is simply part of the burden of people living together. We must face the fact that, no matter what we do, no matter how we come down on this issue, someone’s sensibilities will be offended.

…though I’d challenge his assertion that Protestants “brutally repressed” Catholicism. “Repressed“, maybe, but “brutally“, no.

The Lynch List, 23-Mar-2011

March 23, 2011

First: It has now been confirmed by Quebec’s Court of Appeal that a police officer can still be found guilty of racial profiling even if the complainant was found guilty of the offence which led to the contact with police. This is an important precedent, since most racial profiling cases (to my knowledge) have dealt with charges and/or citations that were dismissed, or for which the complainant was found not guilty.

The danger of this precedent is that matters that have already been decided by the courts can now be re-opened and judged again by a human rights tribunal, only this time in reverse: to determine if the successful prosecution was actually a form of racial profiling or other “human rights” violation. Not only does this place the Tribunal in a position in which offenses committed by designated groups can be reviewed by non-judges, it also places police officers in a dangerous position; even if it is clear that a crime is being committed, they must second-guess themselves to make sure they are not acting on subconscious racial impulses, before acting to protect the public.

Second: The stage is set for a ridiculous complaint over the benefits of a soldier who died for his country; is there a faster way to tarnish the memory of a fallen soldier?

The complaint centers around a supplemental death benefit that is paid out to the soldier’s spouse – if he has one. That amounts to discrimination on family status, says the parents of deceased corporal Matthew Dinning, who was single. The parents claim that they have “suffered” as much as a spouse would have in the same situation, and therefore are entitled to the money.

If the cash was intended to offset pain and suffering, they might have a case. But it’s intended to support dependents who are left behind in the tragic death of a soldier. At any rate, we don’t consider it discrimination that those with larger families gain more benefits through their employers at no extra cost, do we?

Third: Okay, you’ve got to have a downright farcical case if even the OHRC won’t consider you for a disability complaint. Note how the reporter refers to the OHRC:

Carter complained to the Human Rights Tribunal in Ontario, perhaps Canada’s most employee-friendly administrative body. However, instead of finding that Carter was fired for his disability, the tribunal found that he did not even have one.

Fourth: A case we have talked about before has recently finished its Tribunal hearing. Imagine, that you are told by a superior at work that you “eat like a pig”. Oh, the horror! I guess there is a human right to be free from animal metaphors.

The Quebec HRC recommended to the company that $164,000 would make this complaint simply disappear. The company, thankfully, hasn’t caved. yet.

Fifth: A great letter-to-the-editor in response to the flailing attempts to justify Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Tribunal:

The writers reject having unresolved cases heard by the Court of Queen’s Bench instead of a human rights tribunal, because judges lack the expertise of tribunal members.

These same judges are daily asked to untangle complex criminal and civil cases or to interpret the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but apparently aren’t clever enough to understand our Human Rights Code.

Perhaps the writers meant that judges might not be reliable when it comes to disregarding the rights of respondents.

Accessibility is another problem: Judges wear robes and sit in woodpanelled courtrooms -intimidating to complainants. This is a preposterous remark. Do tribunal members wear jeans and hear cases in warehouses?

Sixth: This is not a human rights case, but it opens up a whole new avenue for complaints. An Ontario court has ruled that employees dismissed for just cause, but not for “wilful misconduct, disobedience, or wilful neglect of duty”, are still entitled to severance pay. This precedent will open up employers to complaints every time a person is fired for just cause and not given severance; even worse, those who are a member of a “vulnerable group” can get even more favorable treatment at a Human Rights Tribunal should they be in this situation. We’ll be watching this one to see if it crops up in the OHRT.

The Lynch List, 21-Mar-2011

March 21, 2011

First: Human rights are a difficult thing to enforce when you’re talking about immigration and citizenship status. Can a sovereign government unilaterally set immigration requirements at will? In the one corner, government must operate under the Rule of Law, in which it must give all its citizens equal treatment (not benefit) under the law. On the other hand, does a commonwealth not have the same freedom to associate as its citizens? That would include the freedom not to associate, on any criteria that the people agree to.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this case, in which a little-known section in the Immigration Act is keeping the son of a war bride from gaining his citizenship – because he was born out of wedlock.

Immigration is by its very nature discrimination. Citizenship status by its very nature is discriminatory. So I shrug when Mr. Munroe claims discrimination. Yes, we should look at the archaic portions of our immigration law and consider some reasonable retroactive changes; but this should be done legislatively, not through a bureaucrat in the Human Rights Tribunal.

Second: There hasn’t been a complaint launched yet, but this situation is just begging for one. A florist in New Brunswick, after initially agreeing to supply cut flowers for a wedding, backed out once she realized that it was two women getting married. Citing her religious beliefs, this set off a firestorm of condemnation from all quarters.

All the usual arguments are trotted out; attacking her beliefs as hypocritical, accusations of “hatred” and bigotry, and calls for a boycott. All above-board in a civil society, in my opinion: you’re free to voice your own opinion and patronize businesses that you feel comfortable with.

Just as Kimberly Evans should be free to serve customers that she is comfortable with. And honestly, I doubt that Evans would refuse service to a gay person; like many conscientious Christians across the nation, it is the act or the behavior that she refuses to enable or participate in.

The “right to receive services” is a fake human right, created by government. You might call it a civil right. It conflicts with the real human right to property, which is essentially the same as freedom of conscience. The French created many of these civil rights in the 1600’s, allowing the confiscation of property and murder of those who didn’t meet the religious requirements of the day…

Third: Another HRTO case in which a police officer is presumed to be an unconscious racist:

…a tribunal must be alert, at all stages of the inquiry, to evidence from which stereotyping can be inferred because racial discrimination often manifests at an unconscious level as subconscious stereotyping.

The officer was found guilty on the basis of a stereotype promulgated by an “expert on the experience of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system”; that all police officers are biased against natives.  Read the entire decision here.

Fourth: Here’s something to brighten up your Monday morning. While Heather McNoughton was in charge of the BCHRT, this complaint would have surely been heard:

A man denied the chance to adopt the dog he believed was the reincarnation of a dead pet will not have his case heard before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

The Lynch List, 18-Mar-2011

March 18, 2011

First: Ah, yes. Round and round we go. The CHRC (your tax dollars) is appealing the Tribunal decision (your tax dollars) that refused to contravene Canada’s constitution by forcing the federal government to top up First Nations child welfare funding (with your tax dollars) to provincial levels. Of course, the defendent in both the Tribunal decision and now the federal court appeal is the federal government itself (your tax dollars).

So when will someone “fight” for the taxpayer?

Second: The Canadian Bar Association isn’t too happy with the way Tribunal members are re-appointed:

I then focus on a current proceeding before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal that, in my view, demonstrates some of the negative consequences of the lack of a fair, transparent and merit‐based reappointment process.

Merit-based? Keep dreaming.

Third: The events happened back in 2001, but they’re now being brought forward as part of a pattern of discrimination in a complaint by a female police officer in Durham. While she brings forward serious allegations that should be investigated by police (which they are), the human rights complaint deals with a specific incident in which she was commanded by her superior officer to search a rowdy inmate. It’s part of a police officer’s job – unless she’s pregnant, apparently.

She claims that her subsequent miscarriage after the scuffle with the prisoner is grounds for a human rights complaint. Which leads me to callously ask: if you can’t fulfill the duties of your job, why are you doing it? Look at it this way: if I’m running away from a knife-wielding assailant, can the responding police officer refuse to intervene because she might suffer a miscarriage?

Fourth: Amnesty International continues their campaign to preserve Canada’s system for forcibly advancing progressivism, namely the Human Rights Tribunals. In decrying Saskatchewan’s effort to increase the standard of justice, they complain that the robes that real judges wear are, well, too intimidating for the downtrodden seeking human rights shakedowns justice. 

A tribunal is also a much more relaxed and less expensive setting than the formality and complexity of a courtroom. Rules of evidence are not as stringent. Claimants are not faced with the intimidation that comes with such trappings as lawyers and judges wearing robes. Given that human rights complainants very often come from marginalized, low-income communities, this informality goes far in boosting both comfort and confidence.

As always, they propose a system that has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with stacking the deck against the respondent.

Fifth: The latest from Stand Up for Freedom: The CHRC plays fast and loose with definitions.

Sixth: Scaramouche echoes my own reaction to the CHRC sponsoring a presentation including Irshad Manji, who doesn’t quite toe the CHRC line of capitulation and entitlement.

The Lynch List, 16-Mar-2011

March 16, 2011

First: The CHRT has delivered a common-sense ruling on the First Nations child welfare case, dismissing the complaint on a motion for dismissal by the federal government. If the constitution mandates that First Nations services be provided by the federal government, while the same service to non-status persons is under provincial jurisdiction, it goes without saying that the federal government is going to provide its service inequitably (more or less) than the provinces. In fact, a counter-complaint could be launched that argued non-status persons are being discriminated against when First Nations receive more funding than they.

In their reaction, First Nations groups claim racism. I have often commented that all policies in favour of First Nations are racist, to the withering denial of others. But here we have an admission by First Nations groups themselves that inequitable policies between First Nations and non-status  are, indeed, racist.

First nations advocacy groups also claim that the human rights of First Nations children are being violated on the basis of the outcomes of child welfare funding. Human rights codes are always preceded by statements acknowledging equality of opportunity, which its critics (including myself) have long argued is slowly redefined into the Marxist “equality of outcomes”. This is no different than other rights-agitators who claim that any inequity between racial, ethnic, gender, or whatever groups legitimizes state intervention to equalize – equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.

If I might close this rant with my favorite quote from F. A. Hayek: “…any policy aiming directly at a substantive ideal of distributive justice must lead to the destruction of the Rule of Law”.

Second: Howard Levitt gives some sage instructions to employers now that the Human Rights Tribunals have put employers liable for fallout from relationships between employees. Though you have to wonder if requiring periodic interviews of staff involved in relationships is not itself a breach of some section of Human Rights law. Ah, well, the entire system is meant to create a nation of lawbreakers…