Finding a rights balance

The courts are limiting the powers of Canada’s human rights tribunals one case at a time

Finding a rights balance

George Kovacic

Over the last couple of years, dozens of school boards across the country have introduced anti-discrimination policies aimed at protecting gay, lesbian and transgendered students from bullying. In most places, the initiatives have passed unopposed. But when the public board in Burnaby, B.C., tried to do so last spring, battle lines quickly formed.

Conservative parents demanded to know what the policy would mean for students who objected to homosexuality on religious grounds. Would they be told their views are discriminatory? Would they be “re-educated” if they spoke their minds? Supporters, in turn, accused the group of perpetuating homophobia and in short order things got ugly. Epithets flew on the comments sections of news sites, including racial slurs singling out Asian and Muslim parents opposed to the proposal (one comment on a story on Xtra.ca, the website of Canada’s gay and lesbian newspaper, featured a slur directed at Asian businesses, with the threat, “You will be run out of town”). Competing protests turned board meetings on the issue into media circuses. Demonstrators hoisted signs bearing slogans like “All love is the same,” or “Leave our children alone.”

It’s a controversy, in short, that seems sure to spawn a profusion of human rights complaints—the sort that commissions and tribunals have been eager to weigh in on in the past (a hate-speech complaint over the insult on Xtra.ca is already in the works). But if the protagonists go down this road, they’re bound to find a changed landscape at the other end. Over the past few weeks, Canada’s highest court has issued decisions curbing the powers of human rights tribunals, or making it harder for certain complainants to get a hearing, while government MPs have thrown their support behind a private member’s bill that would get the federal commission out of policing speech altogether.

These moves, say long-time observers, reflect broad-based concern about the role and practices of the federal and provincial bodies, dating back to a series of unsuccessful hate-speech complaints levelled against Maclean’s and Ezra Levant, publisher of the now-defunct Western Standard. “I think that made people realize that they had grown beyond their original mandates,” says Joanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League. “They’re very useful in resolving disputes involving discrimination in the workplace, or the provision of goods and services. But once you get into free speech and freedom of religion, you’re talking about rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unelected administrative tribunals are not the forum where these issues should be decided.”

Some of the changes have received scant attention—though their effect on human rights bodies may be profound. In late October, the Supreme Court ruled that human rights tribunals cannot rehear complaints of discrimination that other administrative bodies have already judged. It seemed like a bit of administrative housekeeping, but the decision is significant because it stops a growing practice called “forum shopping,” wherein a party who has lost before, say, a labour board, then files a human rights complaint in hopes of a different outcome. Then, a day later, the high court issued a more far-reaching decision blocking tribunals from awarding legal costs. The judgment sent ripples through the human rights legal community because these days most complainants arrive before the tribunals with lawyers and expert witnesses in tow. Without the prospect of winning back these costs, lawyers complained, many will simply throw in the towel.

Maybe so. But the judiciary is just getting started, and next up is the explosive question of whether commissions should be regulating speech. On Dec. 13, a Federal Court judge in Toronto will hear the matter of Marc Lemire, an Ontario man accused of spreading hate after visitors to his far-right website posted slurs against blacks and gays. At issue is the constitutionality of Section 13 of the Human Rights Act, the law that makes it discriminatory to spread “any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” based on things like ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Most provinces have similarly written provisions on their books, empowering commissions to investigate hateful expression and make findings of fact. But after years of ruling in favour of complainants in such cases, the federal tribunal balked three years ago in the Lemire matter, declaring a $10,000 fine attached to Section 13 to be “inconsistent with the Charter.” That’s about as close as a tribunal can come to declaring a law unconstitutional.

Evidently, the adjudicator in the Lemire case sensed which way the legal winds were blowing. Within months, the Supreme Court is expected to issue its own decision in the case of Bill Whatcott, a conservative activist and ordained minister from Saskatchewan accused of purveying hatred in flyers that condemned homosexuality. By hearing Whatcott’s appeal in October, the court called into question a previous decision it made in 1990 affirming the constitutionality of Section 13 and its provincial imitators. The current chief justice, Beverley McLachlin, wrote the dissent in that case, and has since made clear her qualms about the provision. “It seems to me that an ordinary Lutheran pastor should be able to look at the act,” she said during the Whatcott hearing in October, “and without being a Supreme Court scholar, be able to know whether he can say this or that.”

Small wonder, then, that the Harper government has found the courage to back Tory MP Brian Storseth’s bill to repeal Section 13. If they don’t wipe it out, a judge probably will. And while the law still enjoys strong support among predominantly Jewish and South Asian communities, it rankles the party’s western base enough that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson rose in the Commons recently to say such matters are prosecuted under hate provisions of the Criminal Code.

Whatever the fate of Section 13, there’s a palpable sense among experts that human rights bodies are having their wings clipped—an unaccustomed experience for the long-established institutions. When the Section 13 controversies arose, notes David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, “many people were surprised by the powers of tribunals to look at these issues and make binding rulings and have extensive hearings.” From that flowed rancorous debate over fairness, he says, with critics complaining that respondents had to pay the cost of defending themselves, while commissions investigate complainants’ cases for free. Others accused the commissions of empire building—processing ever more frivolous cases in ever greater numbers to expand their domains (the number of complaints processed by the Canadian commission, for example, has doubled since 1980).

Still, supporters of the system warn against throwing the baby out with the bathwater. With an increasingly diverse population, the country is bound to face rising tension over issues of race, religion and sexual orientation, says Lucie Lamarche, the research director of University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre. Many of the 7,000 or so people each year who file complaints to human rights bodies hail from disadvantaged segments of the population, she adds, and the whole point of the system is ensuring that those people have access to justice. “There’s nowhere else to go for the average Canadian [facing discrimination],” she says, “and we’d hope these people still believe that this is a fair society. So I believe in human rights institutions. I think they’re much more than the debate over hate speech ever let on.”

Yet even Lamarche concedes that the system could use revision, and suggests reaching into the past to find a way forward. “I’m convinced we have to go back to the basics, right to the ’70s or before, and think about why those institutions were designed the way they were,” she says. A review of the decision-making process may be in order in some cases, Lamarche adds, and can be done with a view to strengthening human rights institutions, not crippling them.

Refocusing the system on its original principles—fairness, conciliation, fostering understanding—won’t be easy. Some players in the Burnaby gay-tolerance saga appear more bent on seeing the other side shamed than in making amends. Yet a leaner, more efficient human rights apparatus could be healthy for everyone involved. Commissions could return to the task of ensuring minorities aren’t shut out of jobs, housing, goods and services. The rest of us would just have to find a way to get along.




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Finding a rights balance

  1. “The rest of us would just have to find a way to get along.”

    …and get over our petty “I’m offended!” reaction when someone airs an opinion we dislike, rather than crushing free speech in an attempt to quiet our own consciences.

    • Free speech is sacred but I don’t feel it necessary to get over the “I’m offended” reaction when someone who has been taught (because bigotry is taught) that they are superior to others and then in turn tries to indoctrine me about how superior “we” are and why certain people based on race, religion and/or sexual orientation deserve “our” disdain.  If I am not offended and do not teach my children to be offended then how will be ever keep ahead of the bigots who are out there trying to indoctrinate everyone in their path.

      • If someone is teaching that person A is superior to person B by virtue of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or stage of development then by all means, it’s reasonable to get offended (but not to quash their free speech).  

        Generally, however, that’s not what the Hate Crimes Tribunals have been about.  They’ve been targeting people who suggest that certain types of behaviour are inferior.  This is neither bigotry nor offensive, unless the listener already has a sore conscience about that behaviour and is too attached to it to give it up.

        For example:  if someone suggests that Catholic beliefs and observances are erroneous and harmful to their practitioners, most don’t get offended.  In fact I get told this pretty regularly.  Certainly no hate-crimes tribunal would touch it.
        However if someone suggests that gay sex is erroneous and harmful to its practitioners, most do get offended, and hate-crimes tribunals regularly pursue these cases.  Ask yourself why there is often such a vehement reaction to what is essentially a difference of opinion about behaviour, not individual worth.

        • As a fellow Catholic, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that not many of our teenaged brethern are committing suicide as a result of severe bullying due to their choice to participate in Catholic services.  However, the same cannot be said for gay teenagers.
          As a person of science, I cannot pretend that being gay is a matter of choice.  Even if a teenager has not participated in any of the “behaviors that a more mature gay person would”, they still often display the attributes that identify them as a gay person and as such, they are targetted for nasty treatment by bullies.  It is beyond me why anyone would think a person would chose to be gay, given the treatment one has to endure,
          I don’t expect you to believe that it is okay to be gay.  I am alright that you are really glad that you aren’t gay but can’t you just celebrate the fact that biologically you personally didn’t get “picked’ to be gay and do your celebrating within your own head. 

          • I think you’re convoluting behaviour with attributes again. I agree that people don’t choose their sexual orientation, but sexual orientation isn’t the same thing as sexual behaviour. To say people of a given sexual orientation are bad or second-class is offensive. To say that gay sexual behaviour is misguided and/or harmful should be no more offensive than saying that Catholic sexual behaviour (e.g. refraining from artificial contraception) is misguided and/or harmful.

            Yet, you’ll notice, it is not taken as such either in the public square or in human rights tribunals.

          • Ah, the old “love the sinner hate the sin” tactic.

          • You think I am “convulting behavior with attributes”.  I am sorry Gaunlion but I think you are just denying the reality that a person choses to be a Catholic, whereas a person does not chose to be gay.
            Regardless, it is not right to ridicule a person for their attributes or their behaviors….be they related to following their faith or their natural inclination when those behaviors are not hurtful to anyone unrelated to that person.
            If you and Dr. Bill could explain to me how engaging in sex with a same sex person somehow hurts you and Dr. Bill, I might understand your bigotry toward that sexual behavior but as I pointed out, heterosexual couples also engage in anal sex so are you going to preach to them on what is acceptable in their bedrooms?

          • ” I am sorry Gaunlion but I think you are just denying the reality that a person choses to be a Catholic, whereas a person does not chose to be gay.”

            Actually, I don’t deny that at all.

            “Regardless, it is not right to ridicule a person for their attributes or their behaviors….”

            Very true. However it is ok to opine that certain behaviours are not a good idea. For example, I think it’s not a good idea to respond to someone’s post without reading it first.

            “If you and Dr. Bill could explain to me how engaging in sex with a same sex person somehow hurts you and Dr. Bill…”

            I’m not sure who the irrelevant Dr. Bill is, nor have I expressed my views in this particular debate as to the morality of any particular sexual technique. What I have said is that there should be no legal ramifications to expressing the opinion that certain behaviours are wrong, whether it be an opinion about gay sex, Catholic sex, or reading posts before responding to them. Do you disagree?

          • Straight people are seldom penalized for their sexual behaviour, why should gays be?

          • Did I say anything in favour of penalization? No. We are talking about expressing opinions. It’s my view that expressing an opinion about whether certain behaviour is good or bad should NOT be penalized.

          • I don’t believe many so-called “gay’ kids are committing suicide because of nasty homophobes picking on them. More “gay”young people die from contracting HIV and committing suicide once they find out their lives will be plagued with multi drug cocktails, debilitating side effects from their medications, and multiple immunity related illnesses. Of course homosexual activists and our activist educators call it “hate speech” when one gives an honest assessment about the risks of homosexual sex. The bullying and suicide hysteria is mostly a media fabrication and a tool used by homosexual activists to shut down moral debate on homosexuality. Your argument people don’t choose their sexuality is specious. People choose to do all sorts of things sexually that set them up for ridicule or worse. Macleans, I believe had a story some time ago about a Sudanese fellow who was caught having sex with a goat. Are you seriously going to argue the guy was born to have sex with goats? Scientifically, it is irrefutable many men and women who indulge in homosexuality, cease the behaviour later on in life.  I am blessed to know some ex-homosexual who have formed happy and healthy life long marriages with the opposite sex. If you are really a Catholic, you should be appalled the Alberta Kangaroo human rights commission went after the venerable Bishop Fred Henry for issuing a pastoral letter upholding the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.

          • More kids commit suicide because they have HIV than because they’re bullied for being gay? WIngnut alert!

          • Oh Bill, you might want to re-think your assertion that guys having sex with animals are necessarily gay.  Further, many heterosexual couples engage in anal sex.  Men and their female partners enjoy it.  You could invest in some “erotic” books.  They are very descriptive of anal sex between a man and a woman.

          • What you believe is irrelevant to what is real.  Catholics believed for many hundreds of years that the sun revolved around the earth, for instance.

            They were wrong on that one too.

          • Then why, pray tell, is there widespread evidence of children taking their own lives AS A DIRECT RESULT OF BULLYING?

            There is NOTHING moral about terrorizing children that you’ve never met, because you twist the words of a peaceful religion as an excuse to bring in lynch mobs. Christ said “That which you do unto the least of my brothers, you do unto me” — so back off!

          • You are a vile, hateful human being. I feel your opinions are ignorant, delusional and severely offensive, and I wish you would keep them to yourself.

            But that doesn’t stop me from finding the current state of the law dangerously oppressive, and (ugh) hoping you win your case.

        • What about when someone is accusing group B of being child molestors?  People seem to forget that that’s what Whatcott’s flyers were saying.

          Because he’s attacking a whole group it’s not a libel or slander case. So how then do we as a society show that we disapprove of such speech? Or should society remain quiet and thereby condone it in the name of freedom of speech?

          I just had a thought.. class-action slander suit. I wonder if those are legal in this country? If they are, that might be a suitable replacement. “You are saying false things about us as a group which cause us difficulty in getting hired in certain positions, or being able to deal fairly with various people. We, as a group, will therefore sue the living pants off of you until you stop doing so.”

          Yeah, I could be in favor of such a thing, plus it avoids the HRCs completely.

          Of course, the downside is that defending yourself then requires hiring a lawyer etc… so then we need some kind of SLAPP litigation in place as well.

          Incidentally, there are precious few that confine themselves to saying only that “gay sex” is wrong.. they say gays or being gay are wrong. Those are different kettles of fish.

          • Yeah lots of homosexuals who get my flyers call me up and threaten to sue me. So far the only successful libel suit is the one I settled with the University of Regina (me suing them for libel that is). 

            First off I never once in my life have ever said all homosexuals are pedophiles. Articles that report this, ie: CBC, are either lazy or are deliberately trying to misrepresent me, as they are pro-homosexual.

            What I do say and the position I defended before the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal is there is a greater tolerance of pedophilia amongst the homosexual subculture than the general population and I have said statistically homosexual men abusing boys is more common relative to the small numbers of homosexuals, than heterosexual men abusing girls.

            I’ve backed up my statements with both copious anecdotal evidence and scholarly papers that I have referenced. The book I used before the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal which documented the problem of molestation of boys by homosexual men is called “Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth” by Dr. Jeffery Satinover. You may not like what the book says about homosexuality, but it is all true, hence while homosexuals accuse me of being a liar, the Saskatchewan Human RightsTribunal could not say that. They simply say the truth is no defense.

            As for going before a Human Rights Tribunal without a lawyer. I would suggest you only do that if you are a homosexual or favoured racial minority. If you are a white heterosexual and are accused of discrimination, I would suggest having a lawyer and having the lawyer prepare for an appeal to a real court. In my case the legal fees for fighting to the Supreme Court of Canada has cost my side about $300,000. I doubt anyone could do it cheaper.

          • 1st, your copious anecdotal evidence I assume comes from your time as a gay prostitute. This hardly counts as “mainstream” in gay culture any more than regular prostitution counts as “mainstream” for heterosexual activity.

            2. Because homosexuality is stigmatized, often by people such as yourself, those who engage in homosexuality already do so from a position of outside of society’s normal moral compass. If you’re really concerned about pedophilia you should really be arguing for more acceptance of homosexuality among consenting adults. It becomes much easier to police themselves, after all, if their normal behavior is accepted.. if they can draw lines without being hypocrites as to things that we as a society condone and condemn.

            3. Given the number of cases of child abuse compared to the even lower relative number of religious ministers, you’d be more accurate to argue that religious ministers are pedophiles than homosexuals. Yet because you’re a hypocrite, I doubt we’ll ever see *that* in your flyers.

            4. Satinover’s arguments about the health dangers apply equally well to promiscuity — of any gender relations. Are homosexuals more promiscuous? Probably. Here’s the funny thing though.. the more we accept homosexuality and homosexual partners who can be openly committed to each other, the less pressure there will be for homosexuals to be promiscuous. After all, if they can openly live with a single sexual partner that’s a hell of a lot easier than having to live as a single man but finding partners to get your sexual outlets taken care of.

            The one solid argument you have is that anal sex is riskier. That’s certainly true, but once again that applies to all sexual orientations, so it’s not gay sex at all, it’s anal sex. When you classify it as “gay” sex, you’re lying, because there are other ways for people, gay, straight, or other, to achieve sexual fulfillment than anal sex.

            Oh, and as to the libel and slander suit comment, I thought I cleared that up above. Of course when you attack a group of people, no particular individual can successfully sue for slander. That’s why I suggest the option of a class-action slander suit. Unfortunately, I don’t think those exist in this country.

          • Oddly enough, I think you (Thwim) and I are in complete agreement, at least with respect to this particular post. If someone is slandering the gay community by falsely attributing criminal behaviour to them, a libel suit is appropriate.

          • Saying the homosexual community has a bigger problem with pedophilia than the heterosexual community is not false.

            Surveys of Those ConvictedDrs Freund and Heasman (9) of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto reviewed two sizeable studies and calculated that 34% and 32% of the offenders against children were homosexual. In cases they had personally handled, homosexuals accounted for 36% of their 457 pedophiles.Dr. Adrian Copeland, a psychiatrist who works with sexual offenders at the Peters Institute in Philadelphia, said (10) that, from his experience, pedophiles tend to be homosexual and “40% to 45%” of child molesters have had “significant homosexual experiences.”Dr. C. H. McGaghy (11) estimated that “homosexual offenders probably constitute about half of molesters who work with children.” You can also through Dr. Jeffery Satinover into this mix. He cited studies in his book “Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth,” which I used in my flyers and defended at the SHRT.Anyways, I am using my real name here and my contact info is on the internet and on my flyers, by all means launch a lawsuit if the truth looks like libel to you. The anecdotal evidence right off the top of my head. Toronto Gay Pride Parade has had signs in it calling for the abolishment of age of consent laws, San Francisco Gay Pride Parade has had NAMBLA marching with them, until media criticism made them get rid of the homosexual pedophile advocacy group. Homosexual bookstores on Church Street always have books on the topic of “Man Boy Love,” The University of Calgary has a website on its server run by a professor emeritus that is entirely dedicated to homosexual propaganda and has a large selection of stories on boys wanting to seduce men. The tax funded Queer City Cinema has run films favourable of men having sex with boys. Perceptions homosexual magazine allowed an ad, “Men seeking boys……age not so relevant.” Thwim’s complaint about Catholic Priests has come up on my website. The Catholic Church realized they made a mistake liberalizing their approach towards homosexuality. Almost 100% of the clergy sex abuse victims were boys, which means the molester priests were almost exclusively homosexuals.Thwim’s argument stigmatization leads to homosexual promiscuity and HIV is a common argument which can be proven to not be true very little effort. Vancouver, San Francisco, Toronto, Amsterdam, New York all have a few things in common. They are places that are highly tolerant towards homosexuals. Open homosexuals do well financially in these places and are able to attain positions of power both with the government and private sector. Homosexuals get lots of affirmation by the media, the public, the government, etc….. Folks like myself are not nearly as affirmed or tolerated as homosexuals in these big cities. Homosexuals can marry each other and live openly homosexual lives in all of these cities.A few other things are true. The homosexual subculture in all of these cities have serious problems with HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, Hepatitis, etc….. Homosexuals are still committing suicide, abusing drugs and alcohol and going through multiple sex partners. The homosexual bookstores in all of these cities will be selling books on so-called “intergenerational relationships.” NAMBLA is headquartered in tolerant San Francisco and the Dutch pro-pedophile organization Paidika is run by homosexual “scholarly” pedophiles in tolerant Amsterdam.

        • I’m not sure you understand what bigotry is, if you think that bashing minorities isn’t the same thing.

          • … and I’m not sure you understand my point, if you think I’m bashing anyone.

  2. You might want to check your facts. I’m pretty sure Whatcott is NOT an ordained minister.

    • I don’t know for certain if Whatcott is or not, but the author may be confusing Whatcott with Stephen Boisson, a clergyman whose hate speech finding was overturned by the Alberta Courts – confirming the standard for hate speech is incredibly high in Canada.

      Regardless, reporting on the issue tends to be rife with errors, misrepresentations and outright obfuscations – all against the commissions.

  3. It’s about time.  Thank goodness for the Conservative majority, section 13 will soon be gone.

    • So you’re fine with children being terrorized over how they were born?

      [sarcasm] Gee, I wonder why Conservatives are seen as evil bigots? [/sarcasm]

      • You appear to be some sort of lunatic. I recommend that you find some psychological help. You might also want to learn what sarcasm is, you appear to have no idea.

        • Apparently, sarcasm is when you surround a given quote with sarcastic html tags.

          Like so:  

          [sarcasm] Stephen Bryce is very articulate and intelligent. [sarcasm/]

  4. Grow up people!  Canada is a wonderful place to live BECAUSE it is a place of freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom to love.  But free speech is not the degradation or humiliation of others.  Free speech is not abuse of others for their lifestyle or choices.  That is what it is.  Ignorance, lack of compassion, lack of education, lack of open-mindedness.  If you do your job as a parent, and teach your children right from wrong according to you, and what your beliefs are, then you should have nothing to fear.  God/Creator/Allah/Goddesses/Gods/Jah/WHOEVER makes no mistakes and the negativity in each religious text is what comes from humanity trying to dominate others whom they are uncomfortable with.  The beauty of Canada is in the ability to transcend these petty disagreements, and live with equal protection of the law from discrimination and harassment.  I know in the bible it says to not place any idol before God, and that vengeance is the Lord’s…doesn’t that mean that we don’t have to worry about those things?  That is Gods job, and attempting to set morality standards on the private actions of other is actually raising yourselves to a position that is not yours to hold.  Which is actually placing yourself as an idol, is it not?

    • Canadians have a right to object to school boards ramming homosexuality down the throats of primary school children. Isn’t the target of your argument a little selective? Maybe pro-homosexual educators/activists should take your advice and quit being judgmental towards parents and others who don’t want to embrace the homosexual lifestyle and they can stick to the basics (math, history, writing, etc….) and leave sexual matters to parents, god, Allah and whoever else, but not them…….. 

      • You can’t win because this generation of children are tolerant.  They like their peers even if they are gay, colored or Muslim.  It isn’t the school boards that are ramming it down their throats…you are just disappointed that you can’t control the children’s lack of bigotry.  Keep slamming away, maybe you will make haters out of them yet.

        • You are far more indulgent of the human scum that is Bill Whatcott than I. 

          Hopefully even the screechiest of screechy speechies will join me in saying: “Hey Whatcott you crapbag take your bigotry back under the rock you slithered out from.”

          • GFMD is a clear example of pro-homosexual “tolerance.” In 20 years of activism I will challenge these pro-homosexual apologists and name callers to find even one flyer where I call my opponents names like “scum.”

            Sorry Healthcare Insider “gay” an obfuscating term used to inaccurately describe people who like to commit sodomy (a practice condemned by all of the major world religions). Homosexual behaviour is not the same as race or religion. There is nothing hateful in warning people sodomy will make them ill, shorten their lifespan and will separate them from God. 

          • So, Bill what your saying is that you are okay with lesbians then?

          • Maybe it would help if you stop accusing people who want to not be threatened, of having a disgusting agenda.

            Oh and NEWS FLASH but most gay people DON’T have HIV — nor do the vast majority of straight people who have anal sex.

      • They aren’t, you lying twit.

        The school boards are trying to make school SAFE FOR ALL CHILDREN, including queer youth. People SHOULD be judging monsters like you, who preach hate in the name of a perversion of religion.

        What kind of a coward wishes terror and death on children he’s never met, and who’ve never done him any harm?

        • Can you provide any evidence I wish death and terror on children? 

          What I see on this discussion page is plenty of name calling, slander and obfuscation by the pro-homosexual side, rather than honest debate of facts, ie: studies showing a higher rate of child molestation in the homosexual subculture, higher rates of HIV, higher rates of promiscuity amongst homosexuals, etc…..It is a true statement when I say homosexuality is not desirable and homosexuals can and do leave the lifestyle. Christianity condemns homosexuality as an abomination. As a Christian I believe the Christian teachings condemning homosexuality are correct. I also believe homosexuals and straights can be forgiven and redeemed through the power of Jesus Christ and His death on a cross where He paid the penalty in full for the sins of mankind.I don’t believe schools should set up clubs promoting homosexuality and thankfully the parents in Burnaby agree with me. Homosexual clubs in the USA and Canada are far more guilty of inaccurate propaganda and inappropriate behaviour than any Christian club that was banned from public schools long ago.  In the mean time you will just have to content yourself with calling me nasty names, accusing me of wanting to wish death and terror on children and then you can threaten to sue me for slander……LOL

      • Hint: Being against discrimination because of homosexuality does not mean they’re “ramming homosexuality down” anybody’s throat.

        Canadians also have a right to object to school boards which turn a blind eye toward kids being bullied or demeaned for their sexuality.  Or to object to other Canadians who think the schools should do that.

  5. Human Rights Commissions need to be abolished. They are an abomination beyond redemption. Many of their rulings on issues not related to free speech are just as odious as their attacks on free speech. For the record this article is incorrect in calling me an ordained minister. I am not an ordained minister, I am an activist.

  6. The trouble with individual rights is that at some point they will offend some others individual rights.
    Some rights are going to need to be scaled in proportion to each other or we’ll have a never ending line of complaints over speech and religion.
    Let common sense prevail, assuming it exists.

  7. How is it even a fair fight if it costs the complainant nothing, and the person being accused has to hire a lawyer or just give in and pay? And if you refuse to attend these kangaroo courts, they have the authority to arrest you and drag you out of your home? These are not legal courtrooms, and giving someone that kind of power opens quite a few doors for a new kind of abuse to say the least.

    • Stop listening to Ezra. He lies.

      You don’t have to hire a lawyer for the HRCs.. that’s why they were put in place, to make it so that people had some recourse that didn’t involve having to pay.

      That people like Ezra choose to hire lawyers.. or at least to bilk the gullible out of their donations for the purpose of hiring a lawyer, is entirely their own choice.

      • You are correct where I received my info, Ezra’s book Shakedown. So don’t hire a lawer and take your chances? He also claims there have been no aquitals in most human rights cases.

        • He’s wrong.. there have been a couple. Notably his own and Maclean’s.

          But the reason there are so few is because before the case ever reaches the Tribunal level, it generally passes through a number of other levels of examination and most cases are shunted off to arbitration between the parties. It’s only the cases that are seen to be truly egregious that make it to the Tribunal level.

      • No, you don’t have to hire a lawyer. But that’s true of any proceeding, judicial or administrative. It’s just that being a pro se litigant is really, really bad for your chances of successfully defending yourself vis-a-vis the other party’s lawyer – particularly when the other party is effectively the government and the penalties are potentially huge.

        But please, feel free to keep sharing your legal expertise! I look forward to your takedown of that whole “criminal defense” racket next. It’s not like anyone really needs a lawyer if they’ve done nothing wrong, y’know? And hell, if they have, then they must deserve whatever they get, right?

        • HRC’s were specifically designed so as not to require a lawyer. They don’t have the evidentiary rules of court, etc, they were designed, basically, to give a hearing to the common people.

          If you can’t see the difference between this and a trial, you’re simply a lousy lawyer.

          • Sweetie, I took admin law. I took admin law from one of the top experts in the country. I also appear before administrative tribunals, successfully. I know much, much more about the process and how it differs from the various levels of courts than you do.

            Many tribunals are ostensibly designed to “not require” a lawyer. And that’s true: you can certainly participate in a proceeding without one, and the member or panel typically gives a lot more leeway to the self-represented in terms of technical issues and adherence to the tribunal rules.

            However – and this is a big however – it is always a good idea to get a lawyer. Doesn’t matter which tribunal it is; HRT, LTB, OMB, WSIB, whatever. If you are self-represented by choice and not necessity, you are dumb. No matter how brilliant you are and how easy you think it looks from the friendly brochures in large type, a lawyer will improve your chance of success immeasurably, simply because for the most part we just know how it works better than you do.

            You’re ignorant. That’s the long and the short of it.

          • Of course having an expert can improve your chances. That’s why they’re experts, after all.

            But just like having a professional plumber in can improve my chances that I can replace a toilet without having a leak, it doesn’t mean I need one to have a hope in being successful.

          • God, I wish every pro se litigant had your “Who needs fancy book learnin’, consarnit, I can do just as well as a real lawyer” attitude about the complexity of admin law – they’d get steamrolled every time.

          • “HRC’s were specifically designed so as not to require a lawyer”

            OMG, that’s a funny one. Like AVR said, it doesn’t matter how they’re designed, you’d be up against people who know the system inside out, some of whom may have worked in the system for years. You’re at a disadvantage without a lawyer. You are completely ignorant.

            And if you think those HRC kangaroo courts are simple, you’re nuts. There are no rules for disclosure, no rules about witnesses, you name it, you’d be completely disadvantaged.

            I’ve been to a session of the Ottawa human rights tribunal, and I guarantee you, there’s nothing simple about it.

          • REgardless of the advisibility of legal representation, the “no rules” thing you mention is a reason why tribunals are EASIER for the self-represented than courts.

          • I don’t see how it’s easier when it’s impossible to know the procedures that will take place.
            There are no standardized rules. That doesn’t mean it’s a circus, that just means that the judge or human rights court officer makes up the rules as he goes along. Therefore, only people with experience working in that court will know what to expect, how to prepare, what you will be expected to say, what you will be allowed to say, what type of evidence is allowed, or anything else. That puts any ordinary citizen at a severe disadvantage.

          • You’ve got it backwards.  A rigid set of rules is more likely to prevent the unrepresented litigant from being able to present evidence because he or she didn’t comply with them.  A more flexible approach allows a party who would have to figure out these rules on the spot a greater opportunity to have their case heard.  And they’re still bound by natural justice, it’s not like they’re allowed to actively stymie a party.  Whatever one may feel about the ability of a self-represented litigant, they stand a better chance in front of your average tribunal than your average superior court.  Just trust me. 

            It scares the beejesus out of me that Ezra can write that hideous book and have people believing the exact opposite of some basic principles.  Normally I feel like when it comes to policy making the government consults people who really know things and the true lunacy gets weeded out.  With the guys in charge now I’m not so sure.

          • Much like the wild west was no picnic for someone who could not handle a gun, the no-rules HRCs are no picnic for someone without a lawyer.

            Ezra knows 1000 times more about them than you do. If you think you’re so smart, then write your own book. Or write a homophobic comment on a webpage somewhere and have Richard Warman give you a taste of the HRC medicine.

            And no, I have no reason to trust you, especially considering what you’ve said so far.

          • What Ezra writes and what Ezra knows are two very very different things.  The fact that YOU can’t grasp this doesn’t bother me, but it’s unsettling to see it reflected in the comments of people who have real influence in these matters.

          • Everybody has influence. It’s called democracy. And thanks to democracy, section 13 will soon be history. Live with it.

  8. A simpler approach is to enforce private property rights. Allow owners to do and say anything on their property so long as their actions do not destroy or threaten to destroy the property and person of others.

  9. Why these human rights commissions exist is beyond me. To me, it should only hinge on malice and then discipline would be at the discretion of the school (not students).

    Section 13 should be abolished as being out of compliance with respect to the Charter.

  10. It is astonishing how much of our public discussion is based on people’s fears. Canada is most tolerant place in world and yet Lucie Lamarche is making it seem like Canada would be feral place without human right’s commissions. 

    And what evidence is there bureaucrats even have the abilities to do what they claim?  I would like to see some proper evidence that Canada is racist society that needs public officials to manage hoi polloi and hear less about what Ms Lamarche is “convinced” about. 

    Thomas Sowell ~ Quest For Cosmic Justice: 

    In a sense, proponents of “social justice” are unduly modest.  What they are seeking to correct are not merely the deficiencies of society, but of the cosmos. What they call social justice encompasses far more than any given society is causally responsible for.  Crusaders for social justice seek to correct not merely the sins of man but the oversights of God or the accidents of history.  What they are really seeking is a universe tailor-made to their vision of equality.  They are seeking cosmic justice.

    http://www.tsowell.com/spquestc.html

    • Tony, just pretend Bill Whatcott is attacking the rights of obese people to exist and then you will understand why the rest of us find his brand of bigotry and his belief in the right to indoctrinate EVERYONE so disgusting.

  11. For the most part I accept the fact that people have horrible opinions of others, and see it as nothing new. You see it here and everywhere else day in and day out.  In my opinion most of it is poorly considered predjudice arising from ignorance, fear, false dichotomy or labelling and/or cultural artifact, but still, that’s for each person to work out for themselves.

    To my own chagrin as a Christian, many of our churches continue to pretend that our religion justifies hatred of individuals or acts that don’t in fact constitute a sin.  I don’t know whether this is the result of cultural inertia or simply an unwillingness to accept change, but there it is.

    Of course I also find many of the “rights groups” equally offensive and misled, but then I suppose they have their own share of fear, ignorance and cultural artifact to keep them on edge. Being gay has, after all, been either a figurative or even literal death sentence for most of human history.

    So I’m fine with letting these folks work out their issues on their own over time, except for one thing: My concern increases greatly when I consider the children.

    People are born gay, and it is something that is completely random as far as we can tell.

    Thus religious people are as likely to have gay children as not, which creates a unique problem.

    I am NOT okay with ANYONE teaching children that being gay makes them “wrong” or “bad”, or that they have to pretend to be someone they’re not to be accepted. Being made to feel that “there’s something wrong with them” is a cruel thing to do to a developing mind.

    In Ontario we’re passing a law regarding bullying. The law makes it mandatory that gay children be protected from bullying and given the ability to speak with other kids like them, ie by ensuring there is a “club” they can belong to in order to have an acknowledged peer group with which to talk.

    Of course the churches are freaking out over this, but frankly, I can’t see their point. It’s one thing to believe something about the world or people in general, it’s another entirely to make a helpless child a target of this attitude and prejudice.

    I would suggest the universal spiritual principles of all the underlying philosophies ever developed by man, religious or not, suggest that everyone has a fundamental right to be accepted for who they are as long as they are within the law. There is a right implicit in being human in our society, to not be bullied or pressured by others, and the right to associate with others like oneself.

    I understand only too well from a personal perspective why the churches hate this idea, and I can’t say that I find this view terribly Christian in principle or ideal. There is no justification in the spirit for this behaviour, it is a cultural artifact from a time that has passed. It needs to be let go for the good of all.

  12. I’m confused. Hate speech directed against black people or jewish people would be treated as such, regardless of anyone’s moral or religious convictions. How is it that hate speech against homosexuals gets special protection as religious/moral expression?

  13. Religious terrorists need to be locked up. Every queer suicide and murder is on your hands, Whatcott.

  14. Ezra Levant has been sued repeatedly — and lost — for lying. I wouldn’t believe a word he says.

  15. Religious dogma that preaches hate for outsiders, should be abolished out of respect for the Charter.

  16. As I expected when I read through the comments, the issue disintegrated into a battle about sexual orientation.

    I find it difficult to accept the notion that when someone is born they are handed a list of human rights and if for whatever reason they identify themselves as homosexual or any other minority they are handed a list of additional human rights.
    All human rights should be written and declared in a manner that covers all violations to all humans.

    By the way Stephen Bryce you stated “because you twist the words of a peaceful religion”. Are you joking here? I suggest you look into the history of this ‘peaceful religion’. Perhaps a refresher course in european history from say the 12th century to the 16th century? I also suggest you look into court cases for sexual pedophiles in the last half of the 20th century worldwide. Peaceful religion indeed…

    I wonder if stating facts makes me guilty of a human rights violation?

    It is not the given stimuli but the response to it that is at the root of these righteous indignation’s and self serving ‘feelings’ of taking offense. Yes, to preach hate is wrong that is a simple truth. We really are responsible for the thoughts in our own minds. To expect something as convoluted as the legislation process to ‘police’ the mind is ridiculous.

    • There are plenty of peaceful religions and many billions of peaceful religious people. Now you’re spouting your own prejudices, as is your right. Read Phil King’s comment above for an example of a thinking, decent Christian chap. That’s not an oxymoron, though it probably sounds like it to a fanatical atheist. I’m agnostic myself, but I reject the atheist label precisely because of the strong anti-religious bigotry that seems to go along with it. 

  17. If people feel that a certain group, race or religion is superior or different in some way…..  that is perfectly valid and they should be (and by conscience are) free to express and defend that belief any way they wish.  Just as others are free to reject and criticize said ideas.  Unless the ideas have the element of truth or reveal issues that people want supressed….. then we get the rhetoric we have here

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