The Lynch List, 30-Jun-2011

June 30, 2011

First: The Supreme Court has decided it will hear an appeal to the Moore complaint that was initially (mis)handled by the BCHRT. For those who don’t remember, that’s the complaint in which the BCHRT arrogated to itself the powers of the Ministry of Education in deciding on the funding formulae for special needs children.

Second: Triple-dipping: After police couldn’t find evidence to lay charges, three alcoholics have filed civil claims and human rights complaints against security guards at  who allegedly singled them out and roughly handled them in a mall in Vancouver.

The Pivot Legal Society, who is sponsoring the complaints, is at the forefront in creatively expanding the definitions of enumerated grounds of discrimination in order to bully the businesses and police of Vancouver. This time, the complaint has been filed under “disability” since the complainants are alcoholics.

Third: How do you bankrupt a small municipality? From Jesse Ferreras:

A single case being argued before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the Village of Pemberton is taking up a majority of its legal expenses.

So what complaint is being fought? A victim of a previous human rights complaint dared to go public with his side of the story. Only complainants are allowed to do that.

Fourth: Ezra Levant digs up the real reason why Alberta’s minister for culture and community spirit, Lindsay Blackett, did an about-face in 2009: after promising to repeal the hate-speech provisions of the provincial Code, Blackett only introduced expansions to the Code and a bigger budget for the Commission a short time later. The fingers are now pointed straight at Steady Eddie Stelmach himself.

Good timing for the Stand Up For Freedom Campaign to do a pamphlet blitz of Alberta.

Advertisements

The Lynch List, 27-Jun-2011

June 27, 2011

First: Always making our roads safer.

For a long time, the ridiculous Entrop vs Imperial Oil decision virtually abolished all drug testing in safety-sensitive positions across Canada. Sure, there was the “BFOR” loophole, but even then it opened the employer to expensive human righs hearings since in human rights land you’re guilty until proven innocent.

Recently this policy became even more absurd with respect to the cross-border trucking industry; American regulatory authorities require drug testing of commercial drivers which is illegal in Canada. Most trucking companies take their chances with our laughable human rights system rather than open themselves up to massive lawsuits in the States.

What does that mean for Canadians?

Truckers hauling explosive or flammable loads have killed and badly injured people after getting drunk or stoned behind the wheel, an analysis by The Canadian Press has found.

Second: It isn’t easy to cut through the fluff and puff of the OHRC’s shiny new make-work project for Ontario’s police forces: Creating and Sustaining Organizational Change. But scratch a human rights activist, find a discriminatory identity politician:

Staff selected as lead change agents often come from equity-seeking groups, because of their social experiences, identified concerns, and generally stronger awareness of human rights aims…

If a person chosen a sole lead change agent is from a minority background, it is even more important for senior leadership to strongly communicate its vision and support for human rights change, and to prominently position lead change agents in the reporting hierarchy.

Third: To date, the biggest excuse their supporters can muster for not reforming the human rights system: complainants might have to pay for lawyers like their victims do!

Fourth: Nice to see that another provincial political party has promised to scrap their human rights commission. Just don’t pull a Hudak, Danielle Smith.


The Lynch List, 24-Jun-2011

June 24, 2011

First: No use trying to do good with the devil’s tools. Or that’s what a late ancestor of mine once said.

The Catholic Civil Rights League is launching a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal over the firing of Damian Goddard for his tweeted comments in support of traditional marriage. While I would much rather it not be launched at all, this is an interesting test case to see if the Tribunal will apply the same rigour as it does when the shoe is on the other foot.

Second: Big surprise. “The Canadian Human Rights Commission opposes such a limitation on our jurisdiction,” says acting CHRC commissioner David Langtry when the government tries to put a lid on their activism. He claims that the Canadian Human Rights Act can be used to ensure that aboriginals get the same services from the federal government as non-aboriginals get from their provincial governments.

Sure, they can hold that position. Right after they approve my complaint for the fact that non-aboriginals pay more taxes than aboriginals do. Good for the goose…

Third: The BC Human Rights Tribunal might be called upon to defend the participants in Vancouver’s Stanley Cup riot from their employers.

Rilkoff said he doesn’t expect to see many riot-related firings put forward to the BC Human Rights Tribunal, given the demographic involved in last week’s riot.

Demographic? You mean they’re mostly young, male, and white? Rilkoff qualified his statement:

“We’re talking about primarily young people who are in lower-paying jobs and who will not have that many years of service,” he said.

Funny, I thought the Commissions were there precisely to defend the little guy. My bad.

Fourth: A good summary of Canada’s tepid commitment to free speech by Adam Daifallah:

In Canada, for instance, freedom of speech is not constitutionally guaranteed to the same degree it is in America. And those wishing for a glimpse into how forces sympathetic to Islamism will try to influence (read: stifle) public debate about the Muslim faith should be aware of recent Canadian experiences.


The Lynch List, 21-Jun-2011

June 21, 2011

First: I’ve noted this before, but it bears repeating. In all of the hoopla surrounding the extension of the federal Human Rights Act to aboriginals and their governments, is the fact that aboriginals still aren’t getting the same human rights “protections” as everyone else. Two clauses in Bill C-21 create the distinction.

The first is the same non-derogation clause as is found in the Charter. Essentially, any existing treaty rights supersede human rights.

The second is an interpretive provision, similar to the sentencing guidelines in the criminal code: “…the [Human Rights] Act shall be interpreted and applied in a manner that gives due regard to First Nations legal traditions and customary laws, particlarly the balancing of individual rights and interests against collective rights and interests, to the extent that they are consistent with the principle of gender equality”.

So First Nations will have a sub-set of human rights, in which their individual rights do not carry as much weight against the ominous-sounding “collective rights and interests” as ours do. The only sacred ground appears to be gender discrimination – other despicable and clearly discriminatory practices (such as expulsion for inadequate “blood quantum“) may be acceptable since it promotes “collective rights and interests”.

And we all know where “balancing” leads us – according to Jenny Lynch, “As we balance rights, there will come a time when there may need to be a limit on one and not on another.”

Second: This may have been lost on author Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes, which is the subject of a book-burning threat in the Netherlands. Hill gives an impassioned defence of freedom of expression, stating that no word should be banned and no book should be burned.

Burning books is designed to intimidate people. It underestimates the intelligence of readers, stifles dialogue and insults those who cherish the freedom to read and write. The leaders of the Spanish Inquisition burned books. Nazis burned books.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission burns books. Well, not quite. They do publicly condemn publications they don’t like, and desperately want the power to ban them. And guess whose father headed up the OHRC back in the ’60s?

Third: Stand Up For Freedom notes Barbara Hall’s campaign for Political Correctness in Housing Advertisements. Honor killings? Don’t have time to deal with that. Landlords mentioning a lack of soundproofing? Critical!

Fourth: Gordzilla in the Province thinks that the new Alpha Team superheroes – complete with an Inuit, an Aboriginal, a gay man, and two aliens – could easily be our Human Rights Tribunal. All they need is a mutant beaver and a one-legged lesbian!


The Lynch List, 17-Jun-2011

June 17, 2011

Buckle up your seat-belts…

First: The Human Rights Act is now officially extended to include all First Nations peoples and governments. In a sense this is appropriate – people of all races and backgrounds should suffer equally under easily-abused laws that inhibit their freedoms.

However, bringing First Nations under the Code will be easier said than done. Since the Indian Act remains in force, the question remains as to who is responsible to pay for all the entitlements under the Code: the federal government or the local band.

Langtry said the jurisdiction of who pays for what may actually have to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In other words, prepare for another costly legal fight in which you pay for both sides, taxpayer!!

Second: Guy Earle has filed his petition for judicial review in BC Supreme Court. Among his arguments:

“Further, there was, and is, systemic bias in that taxpayer funded counsel was, and is, available to the complainant, Lorna Pardy, whereas no such provision was, or is, available for respondents, such as Mr. Earle,” the petition states. “The Tribunal incorrectly decided that it had jurisdiction over the content of entertainment pursuant to s. 8 of the Code, and that the purpose of s. 8 of the Code was to restrict the expression of artists and entertainers.”

While there’s no doubt I’m pulling for ya, Earle, there’s no point arguing about the “intended purpose” of the Code. The Tribunal has stated many times that the “intended purpose” of the Code is to change society as they see fit, damn those torpedoes (real rights).

Third: Rob Breakenridge on the OHRC’s housing-ad crackdown:

Not only that, but the OHRC apparently has no problem with inserting itself into the affairs of private businesses, either, by forcing websites to censor ads and to include OHRC literature.
 
How exactly does all of this improve human rights in Canada? If anything, it’s incredibly detrimental to human rights in Canada.
 
If you’re living in an apartment, and you’d like to take in a roommate, then the government has no business inserting itself in that decision.

And as is often the case, human rights efforts are notoriously counter-productive:

It seems likely that this would scare off a lot of people from posting ads for roommates or even considering a roommate. That could mean fewer housing options.

Fourth: A Saskatchewan NDP blogger writes in the Regina Leader-Post that human rights protection should be extended to protect people from the natural consequences of using their fundamental freedoms – completely at odds with the whole notion of “freedom” to begin with.

You may not perceive any great risk in accepting an invitation to join a group on Facebook, or in posting a single tweet on Twitter – precisely because so many people engage in those actions without apparent consequences. But even these may be dangerous if a private interest notices an action and uses it as reason to discriminate.

Fifth: Kevin Libin attended the annual conference of human rights hucksters the other day. Any questions of the zelousness of the attendees was quickly answered by a conversation he overheard:

…one delegate was heard checking with her neighbours if it was acceptable if she ate her banana nearby.

“They can get pretty stinky,” she worried

Dan Shapiro of Sheldon Chumir waded into the shark-infested waters:

When Dan Shapiro, research associate at the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, argued that commissions would be better not prosecuting offensive publications, rather than chill useful debate, delegates spent the question-and-answer session lessoning him on how this could only lead to a boom market in hate speech. Only by government diktat would school superintendents see cause to implement anti-bullying classroom codes, guaranteed one. There must be “consequences” for those who cause “suffering” with words, insisted another.

Still got all your fingers, Dan?


The Lynch List, 14-Jun-2011

June 14, 2011

First: Sometimes the complainants are a little more extreme than the Tribunal members. Mr. Jogendra’s complaint, launched in 2003 over racial discrimination since he hadn’t been promoted was rejected out of hand by the OHRT. Jogendra, who has been charged with 11 counts of sexual assault, replied by launching another complaint accusing the Tribunal member of discrimination in the dismissal of his complaint. When that complaint was rejected by another Tribunal member, he appealed the dismissal to Ontario Superior court.

Luckily, the Superior Court told him to go pound sand. Also, now that things are in a real court, the judge is considering awarding costs – a fitting punishment for all the frivolity. But the amount of damage one vexatious litigant can do with our human rights system, without being liable for a penny, is staggering.

Second: Ads for rental vacancies are going to get a whole lot shorter in the near future. The OHRC is going to crack down on housing ads that, to them, are discriminatory. For example, they deem the phrase “Not soundproof” to be discriminatory – since it “may indicate bias against families with children”. Other banned phrases:

– No pets

– Suits mature individual or couple

– Great for students

Third: Close, but no peni – er – cigar. The BC Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint in which a young woman actively encouraged intimate conversations with her boss – at one point intimating – “If [i] just hopped over the desk tore off [my] clothes, and raped [you], would that be it?”

She then demanded either a hefty severance or a significant raise in order to keep working with him. When she was let go, she complained to the BCHRT, which has now plastered the affair all over the newspapers. Maybe she didn’t win, but the respondent, Mr. Hill, has definitely lost.


The Lynch List, 10-Jun-2011

June 10, 2011

Just a couple to end the week:

First: Normally, an innocent mistake is grounds for a heartfelt apology. Not so when the BCHRT gets involved.

The hotel decided to deny Bhangra Idols its booking. Staff members wrote down their reasoning in Wall Centre records: “Group is associated with the International Bhangra Society. Due to past problems the group is not allowed to stay with us anymore.”

That was a mistaken assumption. There is no connection between Bhangra Idols and the VIBC; in fact, the two events are in competition with each other.

Oops. If you made the mistake between the International Highland Dancers’ Association and the Western Highland Dancing Club, the hotel would probably write their apology, give a free lunch voucher, and that would be the end of it. But, because it’s a racial minority, off we are to the Tribunal. After leveling a $5000 fine, member Murray Geiger-Adams confirmed the discriminatory nature of the Tribunal:

Wall Centre staff responded that the situation wasn’t any different from if one hockey team had caused problems — the hotel would be within its rights to enact a policy against admitting hockey teams in general.

But tribunal members said that analogy didn’t apply to a culturally specific event like Bhangra Idols.

“Hockey players are not, unlike the complainants in this case, members of a group protected under the [Human Rights Code.] Hockey players can, and do, come from anywhere. On the evidence before me, participants in Bhangra are associated, overwhelmingly, with the Punjab,” Geiger-Adams wrote.

Second: Quelle surprise. A former Ontario Human Rights investigator is now the executive VP of Ontario Big Labour. No philosophical connections there, no.