The Lynch List, 20-Feb-2012

February 20, 2012

Two big items from the past week:

First: The nation’s judges are in stitches again as another boneheaded human rights decision has come before them for judicial review. We talked before about this case, in which two black lawyers were asked for identification in a lawyers-only lounge. Not only did the three-judge panel throw the decision on its keester, but they also slapped the original complainants with a $20,000 legal tab for frivolous complaints.

The National Post editorializes:

Witch-hunting rights commissions need a dramatic reining-in. Too often they are so bent on finding defendants guilty that they run roughshod over due process and the rights of an accused to a fair hearing.

..and as the complainant beefs about the judges not being racist enough, Stand Up For Freedom writes:

The lead complainant, Selwyn Pieters, is considering an appeal. “If the judges had a critical, race-based lens, they would have seen it from the perspective of an African-Canadian,” he said. Essentially, Mr. Pieters is asking the courts to put aside their impartiality and see things solely from one party’s perspective. Human rights tribunals usually go along with that, but, thankfully, our courts do not.

Second: Storseth’s private member’s bill that seeks to strike out Section 13 has passed its vote at second reading. Voting mostly fell along party lines, which is disappointing. Props to Liberal MP Scott Simms for defying his party consensus and voting to protect our speech freedoms.

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The Lynch List, 14-Feb-2012

February 14, 2012

First: Here’s a good example of how to combat hate speech:

Tsawwassen’s Cran Campbell regularly monitors the “Rants and Raves” section of the popular online classifieds’ Vancouver site and flags any comments he deems racist or hateful… Since he started his campaign to rid the website of hate speech, Campbell says he now finds far fewer racists and hateful remarks.

Good for him. It doesn’t infringe upon anyone else’s rights, and it’s clearly achieving results. Yet at the same time, he is doing it the wrong way:

For several months, Campbell has been spearheading a crusade to quash a federal private member’s bill that seeks to abolish a section of the Human Rights Act that deals with Internet hate speech.

…of course, Section 13 hasn’t proven to be effective in the slightest, and clearly infringes upon freedom of speech without due process. Why can’t we do the first and not the second?

Second: As I’ve said all along, the backdoor inclusion of “environmantal sensitivities” as a disability under the Ontario Human Rights Code is primed to infringe on your freedom in ways that the SOPA authors could only imagine. Now, the Ontario Teachers’ union is claiming that wireless internet in schools is contrary to the human rights of the environmentally sensitive, and should be banned. Smart phones are next.

The fact that Electromagnetic Sensitivity has never been included as an “environmental sensitivity” is lost on these people. There is no medical evidence of any such condition; the only proof offered is that there is no evidence to disprove it – using that logic the OHRT would have to admit that the God and the Flying Spaghetti Monster do indeed exist. Furthermore, there is nothing in legislation or case law that recognizes ES as a disability – but that might change with the SmartMeters complaint in the BCHRT.

Third: A confidential closed-doors settlement is simply contrary to modern justice. I can understand how the parents of a boy, who was given a haircut by an education assistant at school, believe that their son was assaulted. That should be handled by the police, by crown prosecutors, and the courts to decide on an appropriate remedy and punishment, in such a way that all educators and the general public are clear on the state’s expectations and penalties. But a closed-door settlement, in which the taxpayers ultimately responsible to fork out money for the settlement are simply not represented, is not justice. There is no admission of guilt, no ruling if any law has been breached, and no due process. It’s a far cry from justice.

Fourth: The Vancouver Courier has more on VANDU the pro-drug lobby that was a joint complainant in the Downtown Ambassadors case that was recently dismissed. Not only were their legal bills essentially covered by the taxpayer during the hearings, VANDU’s very existence is dependent on taxpayer dollars – to the tune of almost $300,000.


The Lynch List, 9-Feb-2012

February 9, 2012

Out of town for awhile, but here’s the latest…

First: The complaint against the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association for its Ambassadors program has been dismissed – thankfully. Though it wasn’t without severe cost to the group.

The 20-day hearing ultimately cost the DVBIA in the “low six figures” in legal costs, which are not recoverable, said Mr. Gauthier. Before the tribunal, the DVBIA asserted that the complaint was a politically motivated attack, and questioned the authority of the two complainants to speak for Vancouver’s homeless.

The complaint was originally brought forward by two anti-poverty groups, Pivot Legal Society and VANDU (Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users). The complaint was based on the faulty “disproportionate” reasoning that has been successfully used elsewhere, such as the Montreal taxi licence complaint. At issue in the complaint was the Ambassadors’ policy of “removal”, at which a private security guard asks someone who is breaking the law to desist and move along. Private citizens are not permitted to do such things, Pivot argued, because lawbreakers are disproportionately disabled and/or aboriginal.

But in their dismissal, the Tribunal showed some signs that it would have agreed with Pivot should they have gotten enough homeless persons to actually show up at a courthouse. Pivot says they found a silver lining in the ruling: the Tribunal member appears not to have accepted DVBIA’s assertion that policing behaviours is not discriminatory. Says Tribunal member Tonie Beharrall: “[Removal requests], in and of themselves, communicate, in part, that the individual is socially undesirable,” wrote the Tribunal member.

Undesirable? You bet someone vandalizing my business is undesirable. If they engage in socially aberrant behavior that violates the rights of others, what should we do then, Mr. Beharrell? “Celebrate” their “diversity”?

Second: Oh no, the Pinto Review hasn’t responded to AODA’s letter. That must mean that there is “real disorganization, poor planning, and grossly inadequate outreach to the public”! many more gripes and complaints about Pinto’s review of the Ontario human rights system can be found here. Among their misguided objections, mostly on the subject of the Commission having far too little power, the AODA has a couple of good ones:

12. There remains serious concern about the fact that the Human Rights Tribunal has the power to make rules of procedure that violate the fair hearing guarantees in the Statutory Powers Procedure Act…

14. The unelected Human Rights Tribunal has taken on itself the role of setting the standard for deciding when a case should not get a full hearing on the merits. Only the Legislature should be deciding this, in legislation.

Third: The latest “clash of rights” has not abated – the rights of a breastfeeding mom to bare in public vs the right of parents to protect their children from naked boobs – on Facebook.

Fourth: The rules are different for girls as they are for boys when it comes to kids’ sports leagues. But now a complaint is being considered on behalf of the boys, not the girls. The issue is that girls can play in both rep and high school hockey. Boys cannot – they must choose one or the other. Think the OHRT will step in when it’s boys at the disadvantage? We’ll see.


The Lynch List, 2-Feb-2012

February 2, 2012

First: Evidence? They don’t need no stinkin’ evidence! All they need is:

1) he lost his job

2) he’s got something that can loosely be termed a disability

and it’s enough for a conviction in the human rights tribunal. Says an employment lawyer:

The case is also notable because, in my view, the complainant had scant evidence to support his claim.

Second: Those sidewalk holes are getting pretty vicious these days. After tripping over one of these monstrosities and suffering debilitating injuries, a Norfolk woman has filed a human rights complaint alleging that the hole didn’t lash out at someone more disabled than her. To top it off, the hole caused a minor modification of her work hours which prevented her from working at all. Since the hole has no money, she has claimed six figures from the nearest taxpayer…