The Lynch List, 31-May-2011

May 31, 2011

Here we go…

First: Where do the ‘roos go when they’re past their best-before date? They get appointments in the real courts, apparently. Quite shocking, since they’ve made a career out of circumventing legal rules and procedure, and now they’re in charge of it…

Second: A lovely column by John Martin in the Chilliwack Times, from a criminologist no less:

Created many decades ago to address discrimination toward those seeking employment or housing, these commissions soon found themselves with little work on their hands as there just didn’t seem to be enough discrimination out there to keep thousands of politically correct bureaucrats and appointees busy.

So they started seeking out other witches.

Third: A lovely day for commentary. From the Vancouver Courier, Mark Hasiuk editorializes:

And therein lies the paradox of so-called human rights tribunals. In their zeal to protect petty grievances, they infringe upon our fundamental rights to live, think and speak freely. In elevating the frivolous, they cheapen the sacrosanct.

Fourth: This just in: stairs are now illegal!

Well, not quite. But a stairway built in a public space, with an elevator within 130 meters, sparked a 12-year fight in the courts and the Tribunal that culminated in the complainant receiving his own taxpayer-funded committee from which to dictate accessibility requirements in other public projects.

Great. Let’s give every complainant their own fief.

Fifth: Ah, the ever-expanding list of human rights: we now have a human right to site an addiction recovery facility wherever we darn well please, thankyouverymuch. Neighbors can go eat cake.

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The Lynch List, 27-May-2011

May 27, 2011

I sincerely wish I could get to these more often, but twice a week seems all I can manage.

First: The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal again wades into the shark-infested waters of aboriginal politics. In a decision released earlier this year, and reviewed here, it seems that any function of the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada can be declared discriminatory if the Tribunal so wills it. Considering that any act of government with respect to aboriginal affairs is in itself discriminatory (as it only affects members of a particular ethnic group and/or nationality), it’s curious how the Tribunal can pick and choose which policies are discriminatory and which are not.

Second: Another case of double-dip: the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has awarded $30,000 in damages for sexual harassment in the workplace while civil litigation (to the tune of 7.5 million) is ongoing. Think the OHRT case will have an influence on the civil proceedings?

Furthermore, the case established that if you can dish it, you still don’t have to take it – if you’re a woman:

While acknowledging the existence of the rumour and that certain of the comments made were sexualized, the respondents suggest that the complainant’s own use of profanities and sexualized comments must be considered in assessing what injury was done to her…

I agree with the respondents’ argument that someone may be treated adversely for reasons unconnected to Code.  However, this does not mean that a difficult person cannot experience discrimination.  In this case, I do accept that the complainant was a difficult person.  However, when I review the totality of the evidence, I have difficulty concluding that her manner of dealing with people was the entire cause of the negative working environment. 

Third: The Canadian Human Rights Commission is being discussed on Politics Forum with a good lead editorial.


The Lynch List, 25-May-2011

May 25, 2011

First: This case has finally gone to its foregone conclusion. In the words of the BCHRT member presiding over the case, “The University went beyond what was legally required to do and took steps to accommodate Mr. Gerd’son after it decided to evict him.”

So if UBC dotted its i’s and crossed its t’s, will they be compensated for the grief that Mr. Gerd’son put them through with his vexatious litigation, not to mention the considerable resources they were forced to expend? The real courts laughed at the case, but the BCHRT took over a year before finally clearing UBC’s name.

Second: A somewhat amusing complaint about being denied entry into a nightclub because of the moccasins she was wearing. Was the bouncer inappropriate? You be the judge. Should this be before a human rights tribunal? I think we can all agree on that.

Third: Karen Selick comes out guns a’blazing against the Human Rights Tribunals in a principled piece that even criticizes – wait for it – Exra Levant for being too easy on the ‘roos. She agrees that the Codes should be abolished:

Human rights codes have fabricated a phoney “right” to be free from discrimination and used it to override a panoply of genuine human rights, including: freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of contract and control over one’s private property. There can be no such thing as the right to violate someone else’s rights. It’s a contradiction in terms. The only solution to this seeming paradox is the complete repeal of the human rights codes, not mere changes to the enforcement mechanisms.

Joseph Obagi, a litigation lawyer (and financial beneficiary of the system), disputes her claims:

[Without human rights tribunals], we would be left with public opinion as the ultimate arbiter of what is right and wrong for actions which fall short of criminal conduct.

Heaven forbid! The public can’t be deciding what is right and wrong!! Lawyers won’t be making as much money!!


The Lynch List, 19-May-2011

May 19, 2011

First: Even editorialists at the gay newspaper Xtra! oppose the Guy Earle ruling:

To me, a climate of mutual respect means a society where lesbians like Pardy don’t lose their homes, jobs, education or access to services just because they’re different. But that wasn’t the case here. In its determination to defend the vulnerable party, the tribunal oversimplified an important question and dismissed any hints of complexity or even wrongdoing on the lesbian’s part.

A good read.

Second: A university professor is fired for bad behavior. A year later, he finds out that he may have a mental disorder that explained his disruptive behavior – and launches a complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of a disability that neither he nor his employer knew he had at the time.

The fact that the BCHRT even accepted this complaint is absurd.

Third: What exactly are these school employees supposed to do?

When she arrived at the school some time later, she found her son lying curled on the floor in a fetal position with two police officers standing nearby. Two secretaries said they had to hold him back from running out of the office and that he kicked one of them in the shin.

In her complaint, the mother wrote that the confrontation caused B to suffer secondary PTSD and severe deterioration of his mental health.

I honestly cannot think of a single course of action in which the school employees would not be subject to some sort of human rights complaint. Oh well, in this system, you’re darned if you do, darned if you don’t…

Fourth: This is one to watch. A collective agreement protecting the jobs of older workers was struck down by a labour board in Ontario for contravening the Human Rights Act through age discrimination. The union insisted that the discrimination was okay since it was affirmative action on behalf of a disadvantaged group. Wonder if the OHRC is going to get involved…


The Lynch List, 16-May-2011

May 16, 2011

First: Howard Levitt points out the ulterior motive of the HRCs in working towards the abolition of mandatory retirement policies: fertile ground for new complaints.

I ask in what way does this employee not fit? Is the employee older than the rest of the workforce? Is he slowing down? If any of these factors are found to play a role in their assessment of “fit,” I warn them about exposure to human rights complaints, which have increased since the abolition of mandatory retirement. Smarter employee counsels are looking at such factors as well.

Seeing as how the onus is on the company to prove that their hiring/firing decisions did not take age into account, older employers are now realizing it costs them nothing to roll the dice and force their employers into a Tribunal hearing, in the hopes of scoring some quick cash.

Second: Xtra! reports that the marathon human rights complaint of Paul Richard has finally met an ignoble end – 25 years after the alleged incidents occurred. True to form, the “victim of discrimination” lashes out with stereotypes at the nearest right-winger that they can find:

Richard believes the Conservative party has stacked the courts with potentially homophobic Harper cronies

Third: Free Dominion has posted the hearing dates for the judicial review of the Lemire decision (thanks BCF). Mark your calendars for December 13 and 14. While I’d like to think that the federal court will be definitive, I have a feeling we’ll be headed for the Supreme Court either way. Let us also in the same breath remember that the Whatcott case is heading to the SCC – the intervenors are starting to line up for that one, including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Fourth: A glimpse into the warped and twisted reasoning of human rights hucksters (from Mercatornet):

“Let us agree,” I say in my workshop, “that no one should go to prison for respectfully stating an opinion which does not advocate violence.”

“No!” angry voices shout back at me. “People should go to prison for what they say if it is a negative comment against a vulnerable minority group, especially when they are in a position of power!”

…I mention the case of a Berlin pharmacist who refuses to sell the morning after pill. Radical feminists smashed his windows and wrecked the pharmacy. “Rightly so,” says another participant of FRA’s Fundamental Rights Platform. “He violated the right of access to medical care!” Heavy nodding from the audience.

I am not sure whether to be surprised, shocked or scared.

Fifth: Mark Steyn figures out that his American tax dollars don’t buy what they used to – just a horribly inaccurate “report” on Canada’s censorship laws…


The Lynch List, 12-May-2011

May 12, 2011

First: London Transit is giving a very polite middle finger to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, who ruled that its bus drivers must verbally call out every stop along their routes, just in case a sight-impaired person might be on the bus. London Transit’s general manager put it quite succintly:

“Putting in place a manual system for calling stops by June 30, assuming logistically it could be accomplished, would require the sourcing of incremental investment of approximately $160,000 to $200,000 and having to suspend (extend timelines) other projects competing for the same resources,” Mr. Ducharme told CAPS.

The principal project on which work would have to be suspended would be installation of the new, much better system [that would automatically call out the stops].

And that, in Mr. Ducharme’s considered opinion – although he didn’t use this exact word with me – was stupid, bureacracy be damned.

Second: Maybe it was unintended consequences, but I’ll give the human rights system the benefit of the doubt on this one:

After forcing city halls across the country to declare days or weeks set aside for Pride celebrations, Ottawa city hall says that the same precedent has forced him to declare Respect for Life Day to coincide with the pro-life March For Life. Waitaminute, says Rabble. We need a double-standard here.

Third: Oh, the irony! Quebec’s human rights commission says the silver bullet to stop racial profiling – is by racially profiling job applicants for civil service jobs! (thanks Ball)


The Lynch List, -May-2011

May 10, 2011

First: Brian Lilley reports on one disturbing aspect of the Conservatives’ new omnibus crime bill: extending hate speech laws to criminalize anyone that even hyperlinks to a site promoting “hatred”. While it would be uncertain if it is even possible to prove the “wilful” component of the offence, it still broadens a law that is already restrictive of free expression.

But even more alarming than the modifications to the criminal code, is what this might mean for the application of hate-speech statutes in the Human Rights codes. The Tribunals are constantly looking for justifications to broaden the scope of the Code, and such a change as this may signal the green light for Tribunal members to do the same.

Soon we’ll get in trouble for linking to Mark Steyn! Oh wait, already happened.

Second: A group of retired teachers in Ontario is claiming that gold-digging is a human right:

The provisions at issue refuse full survivor benefits to a member’s spouse if the couple marries after the plan member retires. Spouses who are married to retirees on the day they retire are fully covered by survivor benefits.

Third: The CBC reports on some instances of serious workplace harassment within the civil service; not too surprising, considering the job security that civil servants enjoy even if they’re vindictive and intimidating. But, in what is a surprise seeing as how this is the CBC, an expert gives a refreshing take on ways to deal with workplace harassment:

Westhues predicts most of the complaints are legitimate, but he doesn’t think more rules or better legislation will solve the issues. In fact, he thinks managers need to use more common sense and victims need to know when to move on…

“By far the most common solution, pack up and get a different job. No shame in that.”

Fourth: Barbara Hall continues to stick her nose in municipal business. While doing so the pot calls out the kettle:

“[People] should be able to live without the city peeking through their keyholes”

Yeah, city of Waterloo, that’s the OHRC’s job, not yours!

Fifth: Hm. Dalton McGuinty still thinks that Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak wants to get rid of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, despite his recent flip-flop on the issue. I only wish you were right, Dalton.