The Lynch List, 26-Jul-2011

July 26, 2011

Only two today, but they’re well worth the read:

First: I am going to re-post this report of a survey of HR professionals in its entirety, since it is all good stuff:

When it comes to the effectiveness of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), HR professionals in Ontario cite a perceived bias against employers (76.1 per cent) as the biggest problem. Also an issue are nuisance or frivolous claims (73.2 per cent), the lengthy process (53.1 per cent), the expense of the process (41.3 per cent) and an unclear mandate (27.7 per cent).

Almost one-third (32 per cent) of 235 respondents surveyed by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) rated the overall performance of the tribunal as poor while 48.2 per cent said it is fair, 18.3 per cent said it is good and 1.5 per cent said it is excellent.

The quality of the adjudicators and mediators is unpredictable, said one respondent, which pressures employers to settle monetarily for certainty. There is also no opinion about the frivolousness of claims until it’s too late in the process, said another.

“The reverse burden of proof and the assumption of guilt on the part of the accused make it a kangaroo court that is a disgrace to our justice system,” said one HR professional.

A strong majority (81.7 per cent) of respondents said the HRTO’s mandate needs to be reviewed (compared to five per cent who said no and 13.2 per cent who were unsure).

A mandatory pre-screening process for all complaints was the most popular (89.6 per cent) way to fix the HRTO, found the survey, followed by specially trained judges, similar to those in family law courts, to move towards an evidence-based system (75.9 per cent), new standards so the tribunal uses rules similar to the courts (47.2 per cent) and reversing the decision to bring back the $10,000 cap on damages the HRTO could award for mental anguish (36.3 per cent).

When it comes to expenses, 62.1 per cent of respondents said employers should not have to fund their defence when human rights complainants receive legal aid free. One-quarter (24.2 per cent) said the current system is OK while 13.7 per cent were unsure.

Almost all (87.4 per cent) HR professionals feel the government should conduct a follow-up review of the HRTO and 30.5 per cent feel the tribunal should be dismantled (though 41.2 per cent disagree and 28.3 per cent are unsure).

“The (tribunal) serves an important purpose but the reputation is it has a red carpet roll out for complaints and a built-in bias for the employer,” said one respondent.

“I don’t think it needs to be dismantled, it just needs to be overhauled,” said another.

Second: Who says the Tribunals aren’t trying to expand their mandate?

In both [BC Human Rights Tribunal] decisions, while not expressly rejecting the higher threshold (which the Tribunal cannot do as it is bound to follow the decision of the BC Court of Appeal in which this high threshold was set), the Tribunal undertook a creative analysis to find that in these particular cases, the “serious interference with a substantial parental duty” test did not apply.

Hamstrung by a higher court? A little “creative analysis” will get over that troublesome hurdle.


The Lynch List, 21-Jul-2011

July 21, 2011

First: The human rights system in Canada was instituted to give victims of discrimination a more timely avenue than the courts to have their grievances addressed.

For a group of impoverished former tree-planters in BC, timely is the last thing they would call the Tribunal.

There was a proposal in BC to replace the BCHRT with an overarching employment tribunal, moving away from the language of discrimination and hurt feelings, and focusing instead upon contractual and property rights. It is quite likely that such a structure would have provided far more immediate redress.

Second: Two criminologists call for a repeal of Section 13. Great! But it’s not for the reasons that you and I might have…

Therefore, it is time that Parliament took decisive steps to deal with hate on the Internet. Specifically, abolish Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and regulate the Internet the same way that radio and television are regulated.

Multiculturalism in Canada can only be truly protected, and broadened, by silencing those who openly call for harm to be perpetrated against individuals and groups because of their ethnic or religious identity or sexual orientation. Canadians’ right to freedom of expression should not be absolute.

The CRTC? You have got to be kidding me. Barbara Hall must have been an honorary lecturer at that university.

Third: The unions are at it again. An arm’s length bureaucracy that advocates for psychiatric patients wants to protect its inexorable growth and campaign of human rights complaints against the Canadian Mental Health Association. Bringing their advocacy group under the supervision of the very CMHA will remove the acrimonious relationship that provides them with endless make-work projects – that would kill their golden goose and shrink their bureaucracy. Can’t have that.

The Lynch List, 18-Jul-2011

July 18, 2011

First: A Vancouver lawyer has been awarded nearly $100,000 in damages over his difficulties in completing his articling. Though it is quite interesting that the complainant hasn’t practiced law in seven years since becoming a lawyer – he is too concerned with pursuing a “number of legal actions”.

What was the $100,000 for? An application for articling asked about past mental health history, which, in the Tribunal’s view, unjustly exposed the complainant to possible discrimination on the grounds of mental disability.

I kinda think it should be a bona fide job requirement for a lawyer to be in a serene state of mind, but what do I know…

Second: Okay, I had to laugh at this one. What happens when two (or more) fake human rights collide?

Across the country, young mothers are asserting their newfound rights, for example their right to openly breastfeed on someone else’s display furniture. Another front that hasn’t received much press until lately is the right to take strollers wherever they darn well please, even if it means overriding a bus driver’s concerns over the safety of other passengers. Add to this the right of the elderly and disabled to have readily-available seats at the front of the bus, and we have a full-blown unraveling of the “matrix of rights”. Maybe this calls for some “balancing”…

Third: A Niagara Regional Police officer has decided to go nuclear on his internal disciplinary proceedings – by filing a human rights complaint to say that he is being treated unfairly by the police board.

A Niagara Regional Police constable being disciplined internally for arresting a cyclist without cause has filed a complaint against the service with the Human Rights Tribunal.

Const. Nathan Parker filed the application on May 24, a police disciplinary tribunal heard Thursday.

“He feels he is being picked on by his employer and is the victim of bias,” NRP Insp. Lorne Lillico said Thursday.

Fourth: The Vancouver Province editorializes on the “stunners” that the rights industry keeps cranking out:

Once again, decisions springing from what should be called the human-rights industry of this country are making a mockery of actual human rights

The Lynch List, 13-Jul-2011

July 13, 2011

We have heard substantial rumors that Jennifer Lynch (for which this blog is named) has taken a leave of absence, likely for cancer treatments. We sincerely wish you a full and speedy recovery, Ms. Lynch.

First: Barbara Hall of OHRC infamy has spoken out in favour of the Islamic prayer services being conducted at a public school cafeteria in Toronto. That flies in the face of their earlier position on Jewish holidays at York University – where religious accommodation was seen as discrimination against people of other faiths. So which is it, Babs?

Second: A Mohawk woman intends to launch a complaint with the CHRT, in part because a border guard discriminated against her in a secondary processing station:

King says she was asked to sit down while processing by CBSA officials. King says non-aboriginals who came into the office after she did were not asked to sit down.

“(There was) a man, his wife and two or three children, but no one told them to sit down,” says King. “Another guy comes in, waving…a document. No one told him to sit down. I thought ‘there’s a discrepancy here.'”

Time for some good ol’ civil disobedience: a stand-in!

Third: I would have to say that I don’t disagree with this BCHRT decision, in which corrections services were reprimanded for offering access to Christian materials and chaplains to prisoners in segregation, but then denying requests for Aboriginal spiritual advisors and materials. Nevertheless, there is simply something very wrong with a career criminal being awarded any sort of monetary award for subpar treatment while incarcerated – in my opinion the award should be immediately siezed and go to recompense his victims who have suffered far more injustice than he.

Fourth: A human rights tribunal is about to be asked to get involved in an internal religious matter again. After the OHRC intervened to pressure the Catholic Church to accept gays as altar servers, the precedent has been set for BC’s dispute mediation system to stick its nose into internal Sikh matters.

The Lynch List, 08-Jul-2011

July 8, 2011

First: Lots to talk about in this case.

A woman applied for sick leave from her job at UBC and promptly used the time off to go to Disneyland and take a few college courses. When she was fired, she launched a human rights complaint on the basis that she was depressed, and the Disneyland trip was part of her therapy. It cost UBC six-figures in legal costs to fight the complaint.

On the plus side, the Tribunal rejected the complaint. They also did something it rarely does – awarded $5000 in costs to the respondent for a vexatious or frivolous complaint.

But on the down side, this complaint was ridiculous to any casual observer at the outset. Why did it need to be dragged out long enough to incur UBC’s costs? More importantly, the Tribunal reduced the cost award so as not to “chill” other potential human rights complaints. Understandably, the Tribunal doesn’t want any reduction in frivolous complaints by which it earns a living, and doesn’t see a problem in having taxpayer-funded UBC take the hit for it.

And maybe, just maybe, the esteemed members at the BCHRT are starting to understand the “chill” effect and how it relates to our freedom of speech. Nah, I didn’t think so either.

Second: David Gollob of the CHRC reports on how the feds are doing this year – 1435 complaints received, 853 accepted, 191 forwarded to Tribunal. But what is gaining the most headlines is that there were no Section 13 complaints accepted. Mr. Warman must be on holidays.

Mr. Gollob’s defence of Section 13: We don’t persecute people that often, so it’s all good, right?

Third: BCF on the cozy relationship between Big Labour and the Kangaroo Courts. You scratch my back

The Lynch List, 04-Jul-2011

July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day for those south of the border!

But for us unfortunate blokes who aren’t…

First: A human rights complaint has been launched over the wait times that visually-impaired students have to wait for alternative-format copies of their books. While I’m sure all of us would like to launch some sort of punitive process against public institutions that make us wait around, it appears that only the disabled get to dictate their wait-times.

File this one under “I have the right to an e-book. Now.”

Second: Shawn Atleo national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, argues that if they only had human rights protection right from the beginning, then everything would be just peachy:

[The exclusion of first nations from the federal human rights act] allowed the federal government to strip first nation peoples of their citizenship and status and provide substandard education and medical and social services in first nation communities. The underfunding of first nation governments led to poor housing, dangerous drinking water and crumbling infrastructure.

Further, Atleo wants to go all FDR on us and expand the Act to include economic rights:

In fact, first nations view the 11 grounds covered by the Human Rights Act as too narrow. First nations view human-rights standards as including the right to water, food, shelter, culture, self-determination, land, education, health and more. For first nations, the act does not go far enough.

Third: What did I predict when the OHRC began its crackdown on rental housing ads?

Jane Schweitzer says writing an ad for an available rental property has become a minefield thanks to the glaring eye of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). Schweitzer, a Hamilton resident who owns several rental properties and Assistant Moderator of the Ontario Landlords Association forums, says the commission’s recent campaign to address “discriminatory housing advertisements” goes too far.

“…I’m tired of it. We have other properties, but it’s becoming very difficult to be a landlord. People in this business are becoming very afraid to say what they want to say when it comes to applicants.”

Fourth: International soccer must have its rules first vetted by a provincial human rights tribunal in Canada, says a law student.

Fifth: Derek From of the CCF comments on the Guy Earle case:

This is the way that our human rights legislation works. Individuals deemed to be part of “vulnerable” groups get protection, while others do not. And it is difficult to understand how this is constitutional.