Monday, June 9, 2008

BC Civil Liberties Association given the boot by "Human Rights" Tribunal

Biased and Unfair … Have the Tribunals become Kangaroo Courts?



In a ruling released today by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Canada’s foremost Civil Liberties organization – The BC Civil Liberties Association has been denied interested party status in the Constitutional Challenge brought by Marc Lemire.  The Constitutional Challenge filed by Lemire is against Section 13 – Canada’s notorious internet censorship legislation.


In another shockingly short decision written by Athanasios D. Hadjis, the Tribunal boots out the BCCLA:


[5] As was noted in that ruling as well, nothing prevents the BCCLA from sharing any specific arguments that it feels are relevant to the constitutional issue with those parties in this case who are challenging the constitutionality of ss. 13 and 54.


[6] The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s request is therefore denied.

CHRT | 2008 CHRT 22


A copy of the complete ruling can be found [here]



The BC Civil Liberties Association applied for Interested Party status on May 16, 2008, and was seeking to declare unconstitutional Section 13 and 54 from the Canadian Human Rights Act.  [A copy of their motion can be seen here]


The BCCLA put forward very strong legal positions which supported freedom of speech and the Charter of Rights. Just a few weeks ago, the BC Human Rights Tribunal granted the BCCLA standing. The BCCLA has unique expertise, which would have been invaluable to any tribunal that was mandated to seriously judge our most fundamental freedoms and constitutional guarantees.


The BCCLA’s position was succinct and powerful.  The BCCLA “would argue that sections 13 and 54 of the Act infringe ss. 2(b), 7 and 11 (d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that these infringements cannot be justified under s. 1 of the Charter.


The BCCLA’s submission continued:


Section 13 of the Act unreasonably infringes on freedom of expression as guaranteed under s. 2(b) of the Charter.


• Sections 13 and 54(1)(c) create a criminal offence without providing the respondent with the defences common to analogous criminal offences or requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt, proof of a culpable mental state (or mens rea), or a strict application of the rules of evidence and accordingly violate the respondent's rights under ss.7 and I I(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


• Section 13 creates an arbitrary distinction whereby an individual may be denied his/her rights under ss. 2(b) and 7 on the basis of using the internet or intranet as a medium of expression as opposed to other forms of media.


• The infringements of ss. 2(b), 7 and 11(d) are not saved by s. 1 of the Charter because the measures adopted are not rationally connected to the objective of the legislation and they fail to impair the abridged rights as minimally as possible.



This decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is the second to throw out Interested Party applications for those who are seeking to declare unconstitutional the censorship provisions of the “Human Rights” Act.  The first was from the well respected, Canadian Constitutional Foundation.


The refusal of the Tribunal to allow the Canadian Constitution Foundation to have interested party status was also deeply prejudicial to [Mr. Lemire] and to the Canadian public. Section 13 is a violation of freedom of speech, as held in Taylor. The CCF could have greatly assisted the Tribunal in the resolution of whether it is justified under section 1 of the Charter today.

Lemire submission on Apprehension of Bias


Journalist and Blogger Ezra Levant described the CCF as “The CCF is a registered charity, with a sterling record of defending minority rights, ranging from Japanese-Canadian fishermen to a Nisga'a chief. Not only is the CCF comprised of true constitutional experts -- it even has Eugene Meehan, the former president of the Canadian Bar Association on its board of advisors -- but it is politically mainstream.”



Hadjis --- A reasonable apprehension of BIAS?


Meanwhile, any group that has an interest in upholding Section 13 is welcoming with open arms.  This might be explained because the Chair of this hearing had a “coalition” with the Canadian Jewish Congress, whom he granted “interested party” to, without ever revealing to any of the parties of his prior close relationship.   This “coalition” with CJC, now forms the basis for a motion on Reasonable Apprehension of Bias, filed by the Canadian Association for Free Expression.


The CJC was granted interested party status, over the protest of the victim – Marc Lemire – yes the CJC hardly even bothered to show up at any of the 26 hearing days.  But their intervention cost Lemire literally thousands of dollars in extra photocopying, postage, courier fees, long distance fax bills, binders, tabs, and many other associated costs.


On May 21, 2008, in a written submission on the Apprehension of Bias motion, Mr. Lemire stated: “However, the actions of this Tribunal since January have caused increasing concern to the respondent.”


With the increasingly prejudicial rulings by the Canadian “Human Rights” Tribunal, many in the public have openly questioned the veracity of Mr. Hadjis’s decisions.


As for the judge, Athanios Hajdis was brisk but impatient. He knows how he's going to rule, and he appears eager to add Marc Lemire to the mound of Section 13 losers. "We're done," he said at several points during the day. I don't get the impression he's planning on letting Mr Lemire buck the 100 per cent Section 13 conviction rate.

Mark Steyn | Macleans Magazine | March 26, 2008


According to several blog reports, the Tribunal chair, Athanasios Hadjis, was visibly impatient, repeatedly saying "this case is closed". In real courts, it's up to the two sides to announce "we rest our case," not for a bored judge to merely declare it. But don't bother Hadjis with such trifles. He's not a judge, so why should he pretend to act like one?

Ezra Levant  March 27, 2008



Journalist and blogger Ezra Levant described Hadjis’s decision to not allow the Canadian Constitutional Foundation interested party status as “a repulsive blend of arrogance, laziness and prejudice.”  Levant continued, “let's be honest: Hadjis is bored, and doesn't want to waste time going through the motions of a fair hearing, and the CCF means he potentially has hours of extra reading to do.


Ezra Levant analyzed the real reason behind why Hadjis doesn’t want to allow in other interested parties:


On the other team we have Barbara Kulaszka, a sole practitioner, representing Lemire himself; Paul Fromm, a non-lawyer; and occasional participation from Victoria lawyer Doug Christie. All are working essentially pro bono -- they couldn't even afford to pay for transcripts.


It's impressive how well that rag-tag team has done in the face of such overwhelming odds. But I don't think that a neutral observer would say that Lemire's team is "more than able" to match the force against them.


[The fact is, arrayed against Lemire are not only the entire resources of the federal Justice Department, but the eight-figure budget of the CHRC with a 170-person staff; and the other intervenors against him -- including two lawyers from the enormous firm Blake Cassels & Graydon.]


Pound for pound, it just hasn't been a fair fight. Which is exactly why Hadjis doesn't want the legal eagles from the CCF -- or anyone else, like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association -- coming in. Not just because, with the likes of Eugene Meehan on board, the CHRC's case would be torn to ribbons. But also because Eugene Meehan and the others at the CCF have a perfect reputation politically. Unlike Fromm, Christie and Kulaszka, they aren't outside the political mainstream. Hadjis wants to keep Lemire marginalized, both legally and politically.

Ezra Levant May 16, 2008




The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal a Kangaroo Court?


Because of the unfair rules and questionable decisions by Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, journalists from coast to coast have often referred to these quasi-legal Tribunals as “kangaroo courts” and “star chambers”.  Every major newspaper in Canada has written an editorial in favour of ridding Canada of Section 13. 


Over the last few years, in a series of cases, human rights commissions have stretched the meaning of their codes to invariably rule against the right to free expression and in favour of those who claim their feelings have been hurt. Slowly, precedents have built up that are intimidating people into keeping silent. Now, media organizations routinely censor themselves for fear of being dragged in front of a tribunal, even going so far as to get people to sign forms where they promise not to offend anyone.

Western Standard | Censure the censors | Sept 17, 2007


Canada's power-grabbing human rights commissioners evidently have scant regard for the freedoms they suppress or for the original understanding of the codes they are supposed to uphold.

London Free Press | Freedom of the press attacked | December 8, 2007


For more than twenty years, in this column and elsewhere, I have been writing against the human rights commissions, which have quasi-legal powers that should be offensive to the citizens of any free country. They are kangaroo courts, in which the defendant's right to due process is withdrawn. They reach judgments on the basis of no fixed law. Moreover, “the process is the punishment” in these star chambers -- for simply by agreeing to hear a case, they tie up the defendant in bureaucracy and paperwork, and bleed him for the cost of lawyers, while the person who brings the complaint, however frivolous, stands to lose nothing.

Ottawa Citizen | Suing for silence | December 9, 2007


Nonetheless, even in this craven environment, Canada's "human rights commissions" are uniquely inimical to the marketplace of ideas. In its 30 years of existence, no complaint brought to the federal HRC under Section XIII has been settled in favor of the defendant. A court where the rulings only go one way is the very definition of a show trial. These institutions should be a source of shame to Canadians.

Macleans Magazine | Here's what offends this writer | January 3, 2008


These days in Canada, if you're feeling down and blue, and you think somebody hates you, you bring your case to a Human Rights Tribunal. … you will have the satisfaction of making your enemy squirm, in a kangaroo court where he is stripped of the right to due process, in which there are no fixed rules of evidence, in which the ridiculously biased “judges” make up the law as they go along, and impose penalties restricted only by their grimly limited imaginations -- such as ruinous fines, and lifetime "cease and desist" orders, such that, if you ever open your mouth again on a given topic, you stand to go to prison.

Ottawa Citizen | The new totalitarians | Dec 16, 2007


Human rights commissions are obsolete bodies whose moment has passed. That they can be exploited by a narrow lobby seeking to impose its doctrine upon other

Canadians is a serious problem.

Calgary Herald | Shut down the human rights commissions | December 20, 2007


The liberticidal monster should have been strangled at birth -- but better late than never. By now Human Rights Commissions are populated with officials who speak disparagingly of "fundamentalist liberals" and describe free speech as an "American idea" with no weight in this country. They're dragging magazine and writer into their rank dragon's den for allegedly suggesting that Islamic culture is incompatible with Canada's liberalized, Western civilization.

George Jonas | Turning out the lights on liberalism | December 20, 2007


Created in the late 1970s, Canada’s human rights commissions were to be the Holy Office of the Inquisition of the ultra-liberal state. This quickly gave rise to a dilemma. Human rights commissions always had a problem with a fundamental tenet of liberalism, namely liberty.

Truro Daily News | Myths, legends and some home truths about human rights | December 28, 2007