Saturday, November 13, 2010

QMI: CHRC paid big bucks for spin doctors: Docs


Good article in today’s London Free Press and on CANOE website.







Top bureaucrat paid big bucks for spin doctors: Docs

OTTAWA — Canada’s top bureaucrat in charge of human rights sought some high-priced PR help over the last few years as human rights commissions and tribunals across the country came under fire, documents show.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission contracted the Ottawa office of Hill & Knowlton to provide strategic advice on how to combat a wave of negative publicity and calls from MPs to strip away some of their powers.

During the tense period for the commission, chief commissioner Jennifer Lynch sought advice from Hill & Knowlton on how to communicate with the minister of justice and whether another government minister could quote her in a news release. The company also drew a map of a Parliamentary committee room including instructions on where Lynch should sit during an appearance and where water glasses could be found.

The documents obtained by QMI through access to information requests show the CHRC paid Hill & Knowlton $167,000 over an 18 month period. The work began shortly after a controversy erupted surrounding the Mark Steyn case.

In December 2007 the Canadian Islamic Congress filed a human rights complaint with the CHRC over the online posting of a Steyn article on the Macleans website. The CIC claimed Macleans and Steyn were guilty of violating section 13.1 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Section 13.1 makes it an offence to publish material online “that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.” While the CHRC chose not to proceed with a case against Steyn, the fact that they reviewed the complaint and the work of a major magazine set off a debate over freedom of expression in Canada.

The contract saw Hill & Knowlton provide advice that included a reworking of the internal communications of the commission, the writing of speeches and preparation for chief commissioner Jennifer Lynch’s appearance before a committee of MPs.

While MPs debated removing section 13.1 of the act, Lynch argued before MPs, using notes provided by Hill & Knowlton, that one of the key challenges to equality in Canada is hate on the internet.


… See the rest at: