Calgary Herald – Society must tread cautiously when ruling on free speech, especially when a human rights panel operates like a kangaroo court. We hope the outcome of Lund’s appeal will reflect that.
Category Archives: AHRC
Calgary Herald – Almost eight years after a controversial letter to the editor appeared in a central Alberta newspaper, the legal battle over whether a former pastor’s comments against homosexuals violate Alberta’s hate laws continues.
In December , the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that Stephen Boissoin’s letter to editor  against the manner homosexuality is being taught in school was “jarring, offensive, bewildering, puerile, nonsensical and insulting,” but not hateful…
University of Calgary professor Darren Lund launched the original complaint against Boissoin.
On March 26 , Lund filed an appeal based on what he views as Justice Wilson’s “problematic” ruling, which factors in the intention of an individual writing hateful comments while human rights law focuses on the effect of such a publication.
Calgary Herald – In its search for tribunal members to judge acceptable speech, the Alberta Human Rights Commission recently posted an ad listing desirable attributes in applicants. “A solid knowledge of human rights principles” and “superior analytical” skills were at the top of the list.
Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal – Our criminal code already contains criminal sanctions to deal with true hate speech, speech so provocative and vicious and unjustified that it encourages or incites hatred and violence. Other speech — even speech that’s rude, malicious, or blasphemous, even speech that hurts our feelings, infuriates us or challenges our core moral beliefs — should be protected by our constitution.
More international bad press for Canadian human rights commissions.
[The Australian] All this is frighteningly reminiscent of the situation in Canada, where official agencies of the state prosecute citizens for the thought-crime of political incorrectness. Canada’s federal and provincial human rights commissions were established to fight discrimination in housing and employment. But these quasi-judicial bodies have metastasised into partisan star-chamber tribunals that selectively file charges against those who espouse conservative political or religious beliefs.
[Calgary Herald] The absolutist argument that everybody should be able to say anything they please about anyone at all falls flat. The absolutists counter talk of responsible use by grumbling about how other people’s hurt feelings result in perpetrators being “hauled” before human rights commissions.
First, nobody is “hauled” anywhere. “Hauled” evokes the image of two burly guards frog-marching a hapless individual into a building. When a complaint is filed with a human rights commission, the accused person is asked to respond via a letter outlining his or her side of the situation; “hauling” does not take place.
Thanks for the English lesson. Now allow us to practice our absolute human right to say, “Go fuck yourself.” We don’t really mean you need to “fuck” while you “go,” but you’re always welcome to try.
Funny. All this time we thought elected officials wrote the law. Oops.
From the Daddy, I Took The Car Without Permission, Please Ground Me file:
[Globe and Mail] In the end, though, human-rights commissions should advise their respective legislatures to repeal these dangerously vague sections, so that those who exercise the freedom of speech and press are no longer harassed by such complaints.
[Calgary Herald] The decision by the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission not to proceed with the 900-day-old complaint against the now defunct Western Standard magazine was the proper decision. But that is about the only praise the commission, or the provincial government and its ill-advised and poorly written human rights legislation, should receive.
[Calgary Herald] A former pastor is appealing an Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission decision ordering him to stop publishing disparaging comments about homosexuals.
Stephen Boissoin filed an appeal with the Court of Queen’s Bench last week after the provincial commission ruled he violated human rights laws by writing a letter in a newspaper that attacked gays and gay activists.
[Edmonton Sun] MEDICINE HAT — Citing problems with violence and vandalism, some businesses in this southern Alberta city are banning British soldiers.
One local pub recently placed a sign on the door warning that the soldiers are not welcome. Other businesspeople have reported they have had to close shop for sanitation after soldiers urinated on the carpet or vomited on a pool table.
There have also been reports of soldiers damaging facilities, stealing tips from waitresses and exposing themselves to other patrons.
“You can’t paint all people of a certain colour or a certain race, you can’t stereotype every single one of them and say ‘Every single one of them is going to cause harm,’ ” said Marie Riddle, director of the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission.
However, there is a clause in the Human Rights Act that says if a business can demonstrate they have reasonable and justifiable causes, they can discriminate against a customer.
“There is no real reason for us to discriminate against older drivers,” say Sandra Hentzen, Coast Mountain’s vice president for human resources. “Nothing special happens at age 65 to make you a worse driver. If we forced drivers to resign, we’d be violating the human rights code.”
An Alberta precedent?
But the school boards that have decided to block over-65 drivers from their fleets are relying on a 1999 ruling by an Alberta human rights panel for their precedent in believing that the new anti-discrimination law should not apply to bus drivers.
[Canwest] Five years after launching a human-rights complaint against oilsands giant Syncrude Canada, a devout Sikh man who refused to shave his beard for work has won the right to have his full case heard.
At the outset, Syncrude lawyers argued the company was not Wadhwa’s “employer” under the meaning of Alberta’s human-rights legislation. Instead, lawyers for the oilsands company said he was employed by a subcontractor, Casca Electric, and that Syncrude should not have to deal with his complaint.
In December 2005, the commission dismissed Syncrude’s claim, noting that Wadhwa travelled from Calgary to Fort McMurray on a Syncrude bus.
[Calgary Herald] All of which leads to this simple question. If the section of the Canadian Human Rights Act that enables all this anti-democratic nonsense is such a dog, why doesn’t the liberty loving Conservative government do something about it? Introduce a bill that simply removes Section 13, end of story.
There’s lots of support. It’s an open secret this comes up every week in caucus, (so the part of the Tory base that thinks their people aren’t trying needs to know that and give them due credit.) The more the story gets out about people like Steyn, or Calgary’s Ezra Levant, or Bishop Fred Henry getting hounded for a pastoral letter to his congregation, the more the general public will be on side.
Now we get it. All basic human rights are equal, but some are more equal than others.
[Chronicle Herald] Freedom of expression has long been regarded as a core democratic value, if not the core democratic value; but free speech is not an absolute right, and even the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows for laws to override basic rights if, as Section 1 states, they can be “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
[Fort McMurray] “The drug testing policy was not found to be discriminatory against Mr. Chiasson as a recreational user. The court left open for another day whether or not drug testing policies which adversely affect drug dependent individuals are in contravention of human rights legislation.”
If there is a disability caused by drug use, the commission would be looking into accommodation for employees, she added.
When Chiasson was fired, he complained to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Committee, saying he had a “perceived disability,” launching the six-year court battle. In 2006, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruled Chiasson should have been treated the same as someone with a drug addiction, which is considered a disability under human-rights case law.
More from the Human Rights/Fast Food file:
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that Beena Datt is exempt from the rules of hygiene because she has a skin condition which is irritated by soap and water. In order to protect her rights, the commission ruled that even though hand washing is the law in B.C., McDonald’s Restaurants can’t require Datt to wash her hands when she starts a shift, after going to the toilet, or whenever an alarm sounds reminding employees to wash up.
As the grand finale to this three-ring circus, McDonalds was ordered to pay Datt $50,000. In case you think this is an isolated incident, the Alberta Human Rights Commission has declared it a human right to work in a restaurant while infected with hepatitis. Everyone feel better now?
Celebrating the anniversary of a Canadian custom. When religion and sex clash, sex wins hands down.
This month marks the 10 year anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decisionVriend v. Alberta,  1.S.C.R. 493; a defining moment in the rights of gays and lesbians in Canada. It was also a proud occasion in the history of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), an intervener in the case.
One such case involved Delvin Vriend, an openly gay man, who, in 1991, was fired from his position as a laboratory coordinator at Kings College, a private catholic university. The college defended the dismissal, claiming that Vriend’s homosexuality was in conflict with their board of governors’ newly adopted position statement on religious practices.
You can certainly try to ignore a complaint filed against you by a human rights commission. But that won’t mean they ignore you. Many of the commissions have extraordinary powers that even real police do not. Take, for example, the powers granted to Alberta’s HRC to enter my office to search and seize any document they like — without a warrant. Check out section 23 of the Alberta law that grants them this extraordinary power. They can even get an order, ex parte, to search my home. If you don’t go to them, they’ll come to you.
What is the Human Rights Commission (HRC)? What are its boundaries? Has it gone past its time of usefulness? Is it and has it been fair to all people?
Alan Boronoy, one of the architects of the HRC in the ‘60s and ‘70s, is highly appalled at the way these commissions are ultimately used against freedom of speech.