The Lynch List, 30-Apr-2012

April 30, 2012

First: The dismissal of white supremacist nutbar Terry Tremaine’s appeal is now apparently the last word on the powers of the Human Rights Tribunals. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the Tribunal’s sentencing power, which are essentially limitless and can include jail time, is valid. I won’t shed a single tear for Tremaine, but it is chilling to think that the HRTs of our country have sentencing powers that our criminal courts couldn’t dream of, yet have few of the safeguards and protections for the accused that our courts mainatin.

Second: The outcome of this case has been talked about for some time now, and doesn’t need to be re-hashed. This is the complaint about the trailer park tenant with a brain injury being refused a spot at a BC trailer park. What is surprising is the Tribunal member’s assertion as follows:

“…there is an inherent injury to dignity whenever a human right has been violated”

This is an appalling statement since it presupposes the outcome of every human rights ruling – that as long as it can be shown that the Human Rights Code has been violated, money must change hands to remedy an injury to dignity. There are probably thousands of individuals across Canada that aren’t aware that their dignity is injured!

Third: This philosophical item bears repeating. The prevailing theory of human rights amongst academia (and, by extension, the administration of the Commissions and Tribunals) is that rights are something given to citizens by government, not something that they inherently posess apart from government. Furthermore, these “rights” have no hierarchy, and the resulting conflicts can only be resolved by government intervention. The result is an unfettered and limitless intrusion of the state into the lives of its citizens, in order to “manage” their rights for them. Gone is the assumption that rights are something that government is tasked to respect and protect our basic rights – the introduction of all manner of additional rights and claims serves to delegitimize and ultimately destroy our inalienable rights.

Fourth: I confess that I see nothing wrong with Muslims paying full price to have their statement of faith plastered in subway stations. I may be obtuse, but I don’t understand the offense that people are expressing. Preaching one’s religion, publicly or privately, is foundational to our rights in Canada.

Fifth: I usually agree with the sentiment, but not the methods, behind human rights initiatives. This one is no different. Employers should not be asking for access to private social networking sites of prospective employees. That’s about as intrusive as asking for last year’s tax return or a list of the websites visited in the past week. Using the human rights apparatus to enforce this is, though, not what I would recommend.


The Lynch List, 23-Apr-2012

April 23, 2012

First: The next instalment of the Prayer Wars: An atheist in Saskatoon has threatened to launch a human rights complaint because he had to endure a prayer at a volunteer-appreciation night. I’m sure the city won’t be appreciating him any longer when he runs up their legal bills.

“It made me feel like a second-class citizen. It makes you feel excluded,” said  Solo, who is an atheist.

Funny – it makes people of all religions feel like second-class citizens when they are silenced and forced to scrub any sign of their faith from public life.

Barbara Kay has her own opinion on this matter.

Second: Shirish Chotalia, the current chair of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, has taken a stress leave. According to a string of decisions from the Federal Court, she was responsible for the stress of many of her employees. Her future is uncertain, especially as her deputy has now taken over all of her responsibilities.

Third: I want my birth certificate to say I am 21 years old, was born on Mars, and was fathered by Elvis Presley. Oh, and I want citizenship in every country of the world. You shouldn’t need to prove anything in order to get insignificant letters changed on your birth certificate, right?

Fourth: The BC Court of Appeal has an opportunity to rectify a grievous overreach by the BC Human Rights Tribunal, in which law partners are “considered employees for the purpose of the Code”. Let this case be Exhibit A to the gradual and inexorable expansion of the scope of human rights legislation.

Fifth: It’s hard to know who’s right – and who’s wrong – in a human rigthts case, says the Toronto Sun. But who cares? So long as it’s someone else being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness, we can all feel better about ourselves, right?

The Lynch List, 16-Apr-2012

April 16, 2012

First: A York University law professor believes that it should be illegal to state in job postings, “Must be able to lift 35 lbs”, because it’s discriminatory against women. What a sexist. Then he also says it’s discriminatory against the disabled to state, “must be able to stand for extended periods of time”.

Can we specify that a heartbeat is required? Or does that discriminate against those with irregular rythm?

Second: A good analysis of the Wildrose Alliance party’s stance on the human rights system in Alberta, as long as you understand it is written by a lawyer who has a customer base to protect.

There are a few items in Wildrose’s platform that either will have complications or remain ambiguous. For example:

– What will happen to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission? The platform states that a special arm of the Provincial Court will take over the complaints process, but what abot the Commission’s mandate for propaganda, re-education, and indoctrination?

– The system by which complainants are given legal counsel is complex and open to political manipulation.

– They state that the new Human Rights Court will still have “streamlined and simplified rules of procedure”, which is still using pseudo-justice to limit our constitutional freedoms. Cutting corners always leads to a reduced standard of justice.

– The Wildrose states that they will “impose stringent penalties and remedies for human rights violations”, moving them closer a punitive rather than remedial approach. This will run into constitutional issues with the distribution of powers between the provinces and the federal government.

– They also state that it will be mandatory to proceed through an alternative dispute resolution process. That is all well and fine if the process is transparent and public, but on the face of it there will be even more arm-twisting behind closed doors.

– While I personally agree with Wildrose’s position on conscience rights, is a human rights complaint the best way to police them?

Of course, many of the author’s “complaints” are actually features of the Wildrose’s position, such as the fact that human rights rulings would have to adhere to the Charter, and that qualified judges and not activists will be deciding on the cases.

Third: Though the details aren’t available, it’s interesting to note that the Tribunal wouldn’t even consider discrimination against white people as grounds for a complaint, and only moved forward with a component of the complaint that involved the complainant’s disability.

The tribunal heard that the quick turnaround time for immigrants was in “distinct contrast to the experience of white Canadian families” at the shelter, including [the complainant’s], who had to wait months for housing…

The adjudicator of the tribunal dismissed all but one of the grounds in the Munroe application… But Munroe’s claims of reprisal — notably that he was subjected to “poorer treatment” in the shelter after filing an application with the tribunal — were not dismissed. In the reprisal section of his application, Munroe also says his family was transferred into the shelter’s smallest room as a punishment for complaining about being kicked out for five days because of his aggressive behaviour.

Moral of the story: It’s okay to deny someone housing because they’re white, but not if they behave aggressively to other clients…

Fourth: While violating the privacy of many law students who thought their answers to a survey would remain confidential, the Windsor Star has the temerity to actually print an explanation for racial disparity that doesn’t assume that all white people are unmitigated bigots:

Minority students brought up in cultures that place a high value on deference to  authority and respect are less likely to have the aggressive, outgoing  personality traits many firms are looking for, he said.

Fifth: Not a human rights complaint (yet) but it’s on the topic of censorship nonetheless. A University of Calgary Thompson Riers University fine arts student put on display a photograph of a niqab-clad woman holding a bra, which was torn down by a Muslim student a few days later. The culprit claimed that the photo was offensive to her – which I don’t doubt in the slightest. There are many photos and depictions that offend people from many faiths and cultures. But that doesn’t grant the right to deface other peoples’ property. There are other ways to protest than vandalism.

The Lynch List, 11-Apr-2012

April 11, 2012

A couple of new cases for you today. Those human rights tribunals sure are looking out for our rights.

First: Protecting our right to pee on our employer’s property. A 70-year-old mining employee has bladder problems caused by a previous surgery, and can’t always make it to a bathroom in time. After other employees complained about having to work on urine-soaked equipment, he was reprimanded. He subsequently filed a complaint, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability.

I will give Tribunal chair Berndt Walter a bit of credit, here. He dismissed all aspects of the complaint that was based solely “he-said, he-said” evidence, properly identifying them as a waste of time and money.

Second: Protecting our right to have our packages delivered to our door. Actually, this isn’t a right for all humans, just those with chemical sensitivities. But the complainant doesn’t see it that way:

“Why should I have to suffer to get my mail? That should be a basic right for all Canadians.”

Third: You’d like to give our new Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition a clean slate. Maybe he will reverse his party’s longstand commitment to throw our fundamental freedoms under the bus in the name of “equality” or the new buzzword, “equity”. Oh, shoot, never mind:

As Québec’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, he introduced ground-breaking legislation, which included an amendment to Québec’s Human Rights Charter that created the right to live in a clean environment.

Fourth: Yet another disgruntled employee who was unhappy with being fired over her job performance. Oh wait – she’s a woman – so she can drag her employer through an expensive human rights complaint, and one appeal, and another…

Fifth: The Straight editorializes on the reasons why the BC Human Rights Commission should be reinstated – to get votes from women and homosexuals. That’s precisely the reason this big mistake was made the first time, vote-pandering…

The Lynch List, 02-Apr-2012

April 2, 2012

First: Age discrimination is so rampant, says the OHRT, that any copies of documents submitted to employers during the interview process must have the birthdates blacked out. Ottawa’s fire department was “in a technical violation of the code” for requesting a copy of the applicant’s driver’s licence – to prove that the applicant could drive a fire truck.

Still, the department had to pay for monumental legal costs over a complaint that it didn’t give enough “points” for experience during the hiring practice – something the complainant believed was age discrimination against older people. I mean, according to human rights logic, considering experience at all is discriminatory against younger people, isn’t it?

Second: Earl’s Restaurants has been serving its Albino Rhino beer for as long as I can remember. Yet it is now the subject of a human rights complaint, alleging that the moniker is “demeaning and humiliating” to those who have albinism.

Also on the list of soon-to-be-banned beer names: India pale ale, black stout, brown ale, blonde lager (oh wait, scratch that last one, the Swedes aren’t a vulnerable group!)

Third: When some bureaucrat screws up my paperwork, I shrug and say it’s a drop in the bucket of state inefficiency and incompetence. When some bureaucrat screws up the paperwork of a visible minority, it must be racism.

Fourth: An excellent analysis of BC’s human rights complaint system by the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce:

[Its] structure represents a considerable incentive to the filing of spurious complaints and an enormous cost to employers in British Columbia, who are disproportionately target of human rights complaints.

Fifth: BigCityLiberal publishes a response from the Justice Minister regarding the repeal of Section 13. Lib’s conclusion: it will become nearly impossible to file any form of hate speech charges in Canada. And all supporters of Section 2 of the Charter rejoice.