The Lynch List, 28-Apr-2011

First: So here’s the story. An aboriginal woman, with a Master’s degree in “native studies”, gets a poor review from attendees to a workshop she is hosting. Apparently they believed that she was endlessly exaggerating the historical injustices of aboriginal peoples. After her employer terminated the agreement based on these complaints, she went to the Tribunal – who fined the government agency $20,000 for daring to listen to the complaints.

The Tribunal found fault with the Ministry for failing to “take great care to ensure that the feedback it relied upon was not infused with discriminatory beliefs.” Okaaaay, it’s now illegal to criticize identity “academics”.

Second: When positive economic rights are dressed up like human rights, there will inevitably be a gut-check time in which people come to the realization, “Just who is going to pay for this?” For many of us, genuine property rights would preclude any sort of claim that someone else has to your money. But our “human rights” codes and act don’t make any mention of property rights – they only mock them.

So we come to an emotionally-charged story of a young woman with cerebral palsy who is about to lose a free taxi service provided on the taxpayer’s dime through the TTC. Someone at the Transport Commission came to the realization that I noted above:

Hers is the kind of scenario transit officials expect to see more often as a growing demand for Wheel-Trans bumps up against the system’s financial challenges.

“We just don’t have enough resources … How do we make decisions around scarce resources when there are varying degrees of need in the community?” said TTC chair Karen Stintz.

But material constraints matter little to Human Rights Tribunals. So they’re off to file a complaint. I sympathize with the situation of this disabled woman, but wonder just how far the Tribunal will go before it too comes to the realization that public funds are limited.

Third: We’ve seen it a few times before: if you’re not around to defend yourself, the Tribunal will take the complainant’s word as verbatim for what happened. To top it off, there’s no appeal of Tribunal decisions.

Despite having an abysmal sales record, a kitchen designer managed to get a hearing without his employer around to defend himself. Suffice to say, there’s nothing to indicate that the complainant didn’t fabricate all his evidence – it was only corroborated by hearsay from his wife, a double no-no in any real court. At any rate, spousal hearsay is enough in a Tribunal to extract $15,000 from your hide.

Fourth: A nice letter on the Earle decision:

The Human Rights Tribunal ruling against comedian Guy Earle on the complaint of Lorna Purdy that she was insulted at his show at the Zesty Restaurant has crossed a red line against the stifling of freedom of speech, the lifeblood of a society of free men and women.

The B.C. government should take steps to remove the clause from the Human Rights legislation that prohibits speech that “may incite hatred or contempt” so that adult British Columbians are not treated as children in a playground under government supervision.

When there is a dispute between adults in matters of speech or assault, the existing criminal laws on libel, slander and assault, that can be contested in a real court, should be invoked by the plaintiffs

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