The Lynch List, 21-May-2012

May 21, 2012

First: While I admit I have far more contempt than sympathy for Quebec’s snivelling student body (well, at least 1/3 of it) who are being well paid by the unions to wreak political havoc, nothing tests one’s principles more than their application to persons and/or ideas that one despises. Bill 78 contains much to be alarmed about, in the fashion that it appears in some cases to punish protesting and not lawbreaking.

Harsh penalties for protesters that physically prevent other students from attending class? He didn’t go far enough. In my opinion, it’s as much a hate crime as any other – assault on a person solely for their political views.

But the inane requirement for protests to give police 24 hours notice of the route and timing of a protest involving more than 50 people? If there is to be traffic disruptions, then well and good, but there doesn’t appear to be that distinction in the legislation. Even more eye-rolling is the demand for student leaders to encourage their students to comply with the law. Again, a negative stipulation would do instead of the positive – it is already illegal for an individual or organization to counsel another to break the law, and there’s no reason that the student groups couldn’t be charged under this principle.

It’s clear that Charest’s government doesn’t care much for fundamental human rights.

Second: The UN is the godfather of modern human “rights”, and so there is much to learn about the way that they attempt to apply them. John Ivison examines the rhetoric used by the UN Special Rapporteur on the “right to food”, noting first that he is wrong on his statistics. But more important, it is obvious that the UN’s efforts are to spread a particular political ideology – socialism – under the guise of human rights.

When asked whether all this didn’t smack a little of discredited bureaucratic socialist welfare systems that are currently crumbling all over Europe, he replied that it is the countries with generous social welfare programs that have proven most robust.

When Canada’s own fiscal constraints were raised, he said “the deficit is a pretext used for limiting social benefits.”

…kinda like the morbidly obese claiming that their health problems are a pretext to limit junk food intake. Brian Lilley has more.

Third: I won’t go into the details of the latest tiff between the Akwesasne  Mowhawks and the Canadian Border Security Agency, but I want to draw your attention to one thing:

…the MCA is also pursuing legal action against the CBSA on the same grounds as complaints filed with the CHRC in previous years.

The CBSA settled previous complaints in good faith through the mediation process. Yet they’re being sued “on the same grounds”. How does that compute?

Fourth: Looks like Bill C-304 is successfully making its way through parliament. Godspeed!


The Lynch List, 14-May-2012

May 14, 2012

First: Another page out of the book I’m writing, “1001 ways to exploit your ‘disability'”:

A BC government worker prefers to wear shorts to work. When his employer demanded that all employees wear pants for safety reasons (Which is the norm in a lot of workplaces I have been in) he complained that his varicose veins were irritated when he wears pants. Voila! He now has a human right to wear shorts to work.

The BC Human Rights Tribunal is entertaining this silliness. And truly disabled people across the country groan and slap their foreheads.

Second: An Ontario law student claims that Veganism should be a protected creed under the Code. Honestly, I do have a shred of sympathy for this one; the vegans that I know are pretty religious about it, and I think it’s reasonable that one’s religious dietary restrictions should be respected within reason for law-abiding citizens in public institutions like hospitals. Prisoners, on the other hand, should just be content that the taxpayer is actually feeding them anything.

Third: I’m actually disappointed that the anti-Semitic comic Dieudonné will not be coming to Canada for his scheduled shows. Not because I agree with anything this lunatic has to say, but more to test the mettle and impartiality of our provincial and federal censors. If Mark Steyn receives a public rebuke in Ontario and several days of hearings in BC for writing a piece critical of Muslims, and Guy Earle was put in the proverbial stocks for putting down some homosexual hecklers, you’d imagine Dieudonné would be symbolically tied to the bumper of Barbara Hall’s hybrid Hummer and dragged through the city, would you not?

Fourth: Among several other points of argument, there is one aspect to this Toronto Star editorial by the AODA that is particularly disingenuous. The author makes an erroneous assumption that all human rights complainants are automatically victims. It ignores the presumption of innocence. It also ignores the fact that often the respondents are victims of vexatious or spurious complaints, and often have had their human rights under the Code violated as well. Slanting the process towards the complainants is simply a miscarriage of justice, any way you look at it.

Fifth: I’ll give Paul Schneidereit of the Herald the last word on the T-shirt fracas, in a well-worded, balanced editorial forwarded to me by a loyal reader.

I’m no human rights expert, but it strikes me if you need an expert to tell you what could be “reasonably interpreted” from a five-word message, perhaps that’s a clue that someone, somewhere has, um, over-reacted.

The Lynch List, 07-May-2012

May 7, 2012

First: 19-year-old William Swinimer was suspended for 15 days for wearing a t-shirt that read, “Life is wasted without Jesus”. Did he run and cry to a human rights tribunal? Nope, he decided to fight for his freedom of speech, and pledged to wear the t-shirt again when he was allowed back in class. Note that the young man never disrespected authority – he served his multiple suspensions without a fuss, didn’t organize a rock-throwing protest, and there’s no evidence he planned to blow up a bridge.

The school board responded by sending the matter to a “human rights expert” who would decide whether his t-shirt violated the rights of his fellow students, i.e. those who whined that their right not to be offended was being violated. Michael Den Tandt opines:

Here’s how the fuss might have been avoided: They could have told the kids who  complained to stop being so damned sensitive.

So what was waiting for William this morning at the school? The school board, the superintendant, faciliators from the provicial Justice department, and representatives from the human rights commission. The entire student body was invited to attend a “forum” at which William’s right to wear the shirt would be discussed, with all of those officials poised to set this troublesome kid straight. No wonder his father angrily yanked his son out of school.

(oh, and by the way, the atheists agree with Swinimer)

Second: I understand the argument that the Ottawa police shouldn’t object to the collection of race-based data if they aren’t doing anything wrong. What I object to about this sort of thing is what will be happening in practice. Just as speech controls “chill” expression, so will police officers be taking a conscious or unconscious tally of the races of people they stop, making sure their statistics don’t look out of place. That will result in a government initiative prompting police officers treating people of differently based on race.

We should be trying to encourage our police officers to be color-blind in their enforcement of the law. This policy does exactly the opposite.

Third: As the OHRC continues to campaign for the transfer of city planning authority from municipalities to itself, it is interesting to note the reasons behind Kitchener’s bylaws that restrict group home placement:

Kitchener, Ont., for example, a separation bylaw was enacted to arrest what was seen as the decline of a downtown neighbourhood where there was a concentration of multiple dwellings with absentee landlords, assisted and supportive housing, and residential care facilities, together with problems relating to drugs and prostitution, according to Kim Mullin, a partner with WeirFoulds LLP who acted for the City of Kitchener at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing challenging the separation bylaw on the basis it was discriminatory.

So the effect of the OHRC’s plan on the disabled in Kitchener would be to consign them to dilapidated housing infested with drugs and prostitution, and run by absentee landlords. So glad that they have the best interests of the disabled at heart.

Fourth: The UN is here to promote yet another positive right – the “right” to food. And not just any food, but high-quality, nutritious, and sustainable food. And guess who would end up paying for it if the UN’s latest wet dream came true. Hide those wallets, but be sure to invite anyone in your town who is truly hungry to your supper table. I’m sure you won’t find a single one willing to attend…

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…