First: This might be a bit of layman’s legalese (disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer), but bear with me.
The nation’s commissions and tribunals operate under the rubric that human rights form a “matrix” with no hierarchy, in which competing rights can only be reconciled by an ever-widening and increasingly invasive government bureaucracy. This flies in the face of the Charter, which delineates several fundamental rights that may be limited if justified: there are rights, and then there are limitations to rights.
In the upcoming Whatcott case, there will be numerous intervenors arguing for (few) or against (most) Whatcott’s right to free speech. One of those is the Ontario Human Rights Commission, whose interventionwill be limited to defending the Tribunal’s jurisdiction over “rights conflicts” such as free speech vs the right not to be offended.
In the context of a competing rights situation, the test in R. v. Oakes should be applied flexibly to achieve a balance between the infringed right and the right that the state seeks to foster to justify the infringement.
The Oakes test does not achieve a balance between rights. It achieves a balance between Charter rights and the limitations that the government wishes to impose on them. The imposition has never been seen as a “competing right”. Until now.
Why is this important? The OHRC and the rest of the human rights industry wants you to believe that fundamental rights such as free speech and freedom of association are on equal legal footing to fake rights, such as the right to not be offended and the right not to be discriminated against by private individuals. This would sideline the one legal hindrance to their otherwise unchecked power: the Charter.
Second: The Sun News reliably trumpets in favour of free speech and in derision of the human rights commissions. This editorial is no different:
Hurt feelings aside, the greatest human rights abusers in Canada are the human rights commissions and tribunals themselves.
It’s a power thing.
It goes to their heads, much as it happens at country fairs when you give a community volunteer a security badge.
Third: What does a crack-smoking police officer and a “disabled” teacher who uses sick time to recover from her other job have in common? Absurdity. And a human rights complaint.