HUMAN RIGHTS TALKING POINTS
We live in an increasingly politically correct, regulated world where governments keep building an increasing body of laws and regulations ‘for the good of the community’. The majority of legislation and regulation thrust upon us over the last few decades serve special interests and legislators rather than the larger community.
Our fundamental, constitutionally protected freedoms of belief, expression, religion and thought are not being protected by governments sworn to uphold our constitution and the rule of law. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of our Constitution since 1982, protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of individual citizens from intrusion by the state. Since the Charter is embodied in the Constitution, no other law can override Charter protections.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (UDHR), enacted in December 1948, protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of all individuals. Canada subscribes to the UN universal human rights declaration.
The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) was passed into law in 1978 and has been extensively modified since with a major modification in 1985. We assume that the CHRA would closely follow the UDHR but the CHRA does not prohibit discrimination based on birth, language, political or other opinion and property while the UDHR does. On the other hand, the CHRA prohibits discrimination based on age, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted while the UDHR does not.
The federal Human Rights Act was not the template for provincial legislation. The federal government was late to the ball. Every province except Saskatchewan had passed human rights legislation prior to the federal government. Legislation was enacted:: Ontario (1962); Nova Scotia (1963); Alberta (1966); New Brunswick (1967); Prince Edward Island (1968); Newfoundland (1969); British Columbia (1969); Manitoba (1970); Québec (1975); the Federal Government (1977); Saskatchewan (1980); Yukon (2002); Northwest Territories (2003); and Nunavut (2003)
It is important to note that the Criminal Code of Canada Sections 318 through 321.1 deal with hate crimes and hate propaganda. CHRA sections 12 and 13 duplicate sanctions against hate propaganda expanded as shown below and without any of the protections for an accused built into the criminal justice system. There is no valid reason for the duplication.
DEPARTURES FROM RIGHTS LEGISLATION
There are three other major differences between the CHRA and other rights and freedoms legislation. Fundamental rights and freedoms legislation and human rights legislation protects individuals.
1. The language of the CHRA extends protection to groups of individuals and is thus divisive and open to abuse if all groups are not treated equally, which is the case at present.
2. The CHRC extends prohibited discrimination to include any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.
3. The CHRA allows investigation and prosecution of a complaint in respect of which no particular individual is identifiable as the victim.
The government extended the CHRA to include Internet messaging when Bill C-36 passed into law in December 2001. Bill C-36 was described by the government as: an Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other Acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities in order to combat terrorism (Anti-terrorism Act).
Our government has created the absurd situation where a person with no direct involvement can conclude that a posting to an Internet forum may possibly cause some-one to feel that he is the subject of contempt and file a complaint with the CHRC. The spokesman for a group can conclude that a posting may cause some members to feel the subject of contempt and file a complaint. There is no need for the complainant to be directly involved. There is no need to show that any harm has been done. There is no need to prove there are actual rather than imagined victims. The CHRC will proceed to investigate imaginary harm to imaginary victims as if it was the real thing.
Christians are under increasing attack as someone claims to be offended, or that his religious beliefs are compromised by public references to God, Christian prayers, the Commandments, or by Christian artifacts and displays. Employers have insisted that Christian employees not wear crosses lest they offend sensitive customers. There is no consideration for the offence to the Christian.
Once a decision is made to proceed with a complaint, the CHRC can pursue an accused with vigour, and has the power to obtain a search warrant to obtain any information that it seeks. The respondent must undertake the costs of legal advice and defence. The system is thus wide open to abuse as a complainant, unlike the plaintiff in a civil suit, has no ongoing costs of prosecution. It is reasonable to conclude that the investigation process is punitive to the accused. While this is going on, the same authorities are advocating that Sikhs be allowed to wear their turbans and kirpans at school and work and that Muslims be allowed to wear their hijabs in court and while voting. The strident and vicious attack on our beliefs and society is astonishing. There are different rules and standards for Caucasian Christians as opposed to all others.
The CHRC usually initiates an investigation by demanding that an accused provide it with information about himself in direct violation of Charter Section 11 (c):
11. Any person charged with an offence has the right … c) not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence…
The CHRC powers to obtain a search warrant and seize records, which would include computers and related equipment, is a powerful and coercive incentive for an accused to give up his Charter right and provide the information demanded.
When the CHRC completes an investigation, and despite CHRA provisions for arbitration of a complaint, every case involving an Internet blog or forum has been referred to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) for prosecution. The CHRT ignores our common-law based legal system entirely and operates in an Orwellian fantasy land.
An accused is denied disclosure of the case against him and cannot learn the rules of the hearing as each chairperson is given the authority to set the rules for that hearing on the fly during the proceedings. A Tribunal has ruled that telling the truth is not a legitimate defence at hearings. A Tribunal has listened to evidence that the freedom of expression is an American concept, not valid in Canada.
Consider the difficulty of proving that a particular comment is not likely to cause un-named parties to feel injured. It is no wonder that the CHRC has ruled against the accused in every CHRA Section 13 (1) case it has considered. A contributing factor is that almost every person accused has lacked the means to hire and be represented by competent legal counsel.
It is troubling that the CHRT regularly issues rulings banning a respondent from further comment on an issue for life. This is an onerous infringement on that person’s funda-mental freedom of expression. The CHRT has no mandate to override the Charter, but does so frequently.
Also troubling are recent CHRT rulings that not only require an accused to refrain from speaking to the subject of complaint for life, but also to impose fines that have been diverted to the complainant to offset alleged expenses. Since the CHRC and CHRT operate independently at public cost and do not require participation of the complainant, it is hard to imagine what costs a complainant could incur unless he was actively participating in allegedly independent processes.
NO VALID EXCUSES
The Canadian Human Rights Act is very bad law for the reasons stated above. There is no excuse for a law that allows the prosecution of a citizen for having caused imaginary harm to imaginary people. There is no excuse for a law that allows the prosecution of a citizen for having offended another person. No Bill of Rights, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or Human Rights legislation anywhere else in the world provides a person, let alone persons unnamed, with protection from feeling offended.
An ironic aspect of this attack on our fundamental freedoms is that the freedoms of the chosen groups supported by the CHRC are having their freedoms undermined by the sponsors they hold so dear. When the freedoms of a citizen are overridden to assuage the hurt feelings of a visible minority, we all lose. Down the road, a person facing discrimination will have no recourse as the fundamental freedom he or she should enjoy has been subverted to the power of the group.
The HRCs are undermining a very important fundamental human right which is equality before and under the law. The HRTs have made it very clear that membership in a visible minority group trumps the rights and freedoms of the individual. If HRC/HRTs are allowed to continue unchecked, individual freedoms and rights will disappear and be replaced by a competition amongst groups of individuals for power over our society.
The HRC/HRTs are the result of multiculturalism and social engineering gone mad. If we consider the Charter in our constitution to be the benevolent Dr. Jekyll there is no question that the HRC/HRTs are the evil Mr. Hyde. We need to exorcise those sections of the CHRC that allow Mr. Hyde to exist.
The purpose of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) is clearly set out in the Act:
The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.
The intent is to protect individuals from discrimination that would infringe on their equality as citizens and prevent them from enjoying an equal opportunity to prosper to the limit of their abilities within the framework of their duties and responsibilities as citizens.
There is no provision in this purpose, nor should there be, for the protection of groups of any sort, and there is no provision in this purpose for protecting people from contempt. The person whose actions or behaviour invited contempt and derision may seek to claim discrimination, but is standing on quicksand and is unworthy of protection.
Groups of individuals cannot be protected under human rights legislation. Human rights, along with our fundamental charter rights and freedoms, rest with the individual. Human Rights Commissions have adopted the approach that someone claiming discrimination is correct if he or she is a member of a visible minority and in effect requiring that an accused prove his or her innocence.
Canadian Human Rights Tribunals operate with no consistent rules of order or rules respecting evidence. It is very difficult if not impossible for an accused to properly defend himself when he cannot know what evidence may and may not be presented and cannot establish the rules of procedure. Despite having an alleged through investigation by the CHRC, Tribunals routinely refuse to provide an accused with disclosure of evidence held against him, choosing instead to develop evidence during the hearing. While it may make for good theatre, it results in failed attempts at justice.
Members of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal are not required to be apolitical or to recuse themselves when they have a conflict of interest. There is nothing in the Canadian Human Rights Act that requires Tribunal members to be impartial in their hearing and decision on a case. There is nothing that required a member of the Tribunal to recues themselves from a case in which they have a direct interest. These are serious breaches of the fundamental principles of justice, and must be addressed.
At a minimum, the Canadian Human Rights Act requires the following amendments:
1. A requirement that Canadian Human Rights Tribunal members be politically neutral and recuse themselves when they face a conflict of interest;
2. Removal of any and all references to groups and groups of people;
3. A requirement that an investigation or inquiry cannot proceed without the authorization of an injured party when the complainant is not an injured party;
4. Removal of the provision for the CHRC to undertake an investigation or inquiry when there is no complaint;
5. Removal of the provision for an investigation or inquiry when no particular individual is identifiable as a victim;
6. A requirement for the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to publish its rules of evidence and rules of order for a hearing; and
7. Strike sections 12 and 13 from the CHRA – hate crimes including publications are already covered by the Criminal Code and the duplication is gratuitous and dangerous in a free democracy.
The Canadian Human Rights Act came into force in 1978, four years prior to enactment of the 1982 Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While the Criminal Code has been amended as a result of a barrage of Charter challenges, there has been no similar spate of Charter challenges to the CHRA in part because accused persons do not have the funds to mount a court challenge while criminals have the advantage of having their challenges funded by legal aid. That increases the responsibility of our legislators to review and amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to ensure that its provisions and operations are not in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
If someone was charged under the Criminal Code hate crimes provisions and the case was then turned over to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for a hearing and decision, the protest would reverberate in the media for months. That should tell legislators that they cannot continue to ignore the monstrosity they have created.
It’s time to reign in the Canadian Human Rights Fanatics
Join our campaign to Stop Section 13