This shouldn’t come as a surprise: the man known in student politics circles as a Canadian Federation of Students lawyer, Donald Crane, supports B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal.
Yes, that Donald Crane. The one who argued against students at Simon Fraser University who mobilized in the greatest display of student democracy in Canada this decade. The Donald Crane who represented the “Reduce All Fees” slate at Kwantlen lead by Aaron Takhar. (The same Takhar who treated the students union like his own piggy bank.)
Now Crane is supporting the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal by writing a letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun entitled “Rights tribunal unfairly criticized.” His letter is in response to the outcry in the press in support of my employer Maclean’s, who was dragged before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal for publishing an excerpt of Mark Steyn’s book “America Alone.” His opponents say that the excerpt violates human rights by stirring up hatred against Muslims. Almost everyone else says, offensive or not, Steyn should be allowed to write what he wants without being brought before what some people are calling a kangaroo court.
Another non-surprise considering the case history listed above is that Crane makes a poor argument in his letter.
One of Crane’s arguments is that “Under our code, and under the circumstances of this complaint, the tribunal had no choice but to give all parties a fair opportunity to be heard, and then proceed to decide whether the article violated the code.”
Actually, the code states:
Dismissal of a complaint
27 (1) A member or panel may, at any time after a complaint is filed and with or without a hearing, dismiss all or part of the complaint if that member or panel determines that any of the following apply:
(a) the complaint or that part of the complaint is not within the jurisdiction of the tribunal;
(b) the acts or omissions alleged in the complaint or that part of the complaint do not contravene this Code;
(c) there is no reasonable prospect that the complaint will succeed;
(d) proceeding with the complaint or that part of the complaint would not
(i) benefit the person, group or class alleged to have been discriminated against, or
(ii) further the purposes of this Code;
(e) the complaint or that part of the complaint was filed for improper motives or made in bad faith;
(f) the substance of the complaint or that part of the complaint has been appropriately dealt with in another proceeding;
(g) the contravention alleged in the complaint or that part of the complaint occurred more than 6 months before the complaint was filed unless the complaint or that part of the complaint was accepted under section 22 (3).
Reading the above, there are good reasons for the BC Tribunal to have dismissed the case. The easiest is the case was filed more than six months after the article in question. 22 (3) allows for the Tribunal to hear the case if “it is in the public interest to accept the complaint.”
The BC Tribunal had an option, sir: they could have said no. Much like Ontario did.
I’m fairly confident that one side didn’t get a fair opportunity to be heard- – another false argument in the same paragraph.
I have no inside information. This is purely from reading Coyne’s blog of the proceedings (seriously, I wish Canadian “judicial” processes would be more open and transparent – is it too much to ask for audio?) and reading news stories on the hearings.
I love Crane’s ending: “There is, however, nothing in the process that warrants the vitriolic attacks against the tribunal which have appeared in the press.”
Even people who helped created the commissions are concerned. The commissions have earned the criticism they are receiving.
With friends like this, no wonder the commissions are in trouble.