The Lynch List, 01-Sep-2011

Not much happening in human-rights-land over the past week.

First: Still don’t have enough evidence that the CHRC is making up new human rights without the consent of Parliament? Check out this speech by acting commissioner David “fly-weekly-from-Manitoba-to-Ottawa-on-taxpayers-dime” Langtry: he claims that water is a basic human right, and outlines his plans to manipulate the laws to force Ottawa to recognize it.

Indeed, in many ways, Mr. Langtry is more activist than current commissioner Jennifer Lynch without having her penchant for silencing critics. He clearly sees the Commission as a tool to further his own social agenda, and bristles at any suggestion that the people, through their representatives, should have a say about it.

Second: The war against profiling continues for better and for worse. On the “worse” side of the ledger is on the topic of behavioural profiling. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has called into question a program under development that would train airport security staff in behavioural profiling techniques. Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart claims that there is a huge possibility of arbitrary judgments, and doubts the scientific validity of the practice.

The CHRC, meanwhile, has been on board with the program as long as race-related data is collected. My guess is that their intention is to shut the program down after a year with great fanfare when their analysis of the data invariably finds out that some group is overrepresented in the profiling. Correlation does not equal causation, but that never stopped the Commission…

Third: Should our human rights codes be updated to prevent discrimination on the basis of good (or bad) looks?

Fourth: An interesting study that looks at the success rate of rental inquiries in the greater Vancouver area found, among other things, that lesbian couples are just as successful as heteroxesual couples in getting a response to a rental inquiry. Yet we’re still a homophobic society because gay male couples have a harder time. Go figure.

Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with sex discrimination – that men typically generate more wear and tear on housing than women. But that wouldn’t fit the narrative.

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