LETHBRIDGE, Alberta, June 29, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two grassroots advocacy groups from northern and southern Alberta are preparing to blitz the province this Canada Day weekend with pamphlets urging citizens to make themselves aware of the infringements on freedoms of speech, expression, conscience, and faith being perpetrated by Alberta’s human rights tribunals.
The distribution of 45,000 “Stand Up for Freedom Canada” pamphlets is part of a project of the Northern and Southern Alberta Associations for Reformed Political Action (ARPA).
“When we celebrate Canada Day it is our freedom that we cherish most about this great nation,” said Melanie Harthoorn, representative of ARPA, in a press release. “Yet few people seem to be aware that our most basic freedoms are being slowly undermined by commissions and tribunals both in Alberta and across Canada.”
An Alberta Human Rights Tribunal famously ruled against Christian pastor Stephen Boissoin for having written a letter to the editor of a local newspaper expressing his concern about the incursion of the homosexualist agenda in schools. That decision was later overturned by one of the province’s courts.
Other similar cases have occurred in human rights commissions across the country, and have led to a groundswell of opposition to the institutions.
“The Alberta government’s recent attempt to reform our human rights commission in the wake of criticism from the public and our courts was a joke,” Harthoorn continued. “We can’t just stand around and do nothing while these commissions erode our freedom of speech, expression, conscience, and faith.”
In overturning the tribunal ruling on Pastor Boissoin in 2009, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench and took the opportunity to publicly criticize the tribunal, stating that the punishments they handed out “were either unlawful or unconstitutional.”
In the face of this criticism Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett announced that Alberta would be making reforms to the commission and tribunal.
However, the ARPA argues that apart from axing the Chief Commissioner who made the particular ruling that the Court quashed, the reforms did nothing to address the real problems of the commission and tribunal. Instead, the government allocated $1.7 million more to them so that they could expand their work.
The ARPA groups went to the Alberta Legislature this spring and met with the Attorney General and the Culture Minister, urging them to reform or even abolish the commission and tribunal.
“The human rights tribunal has incredible power and yet doesn’t have to abide by many of the vital checks and balances that are in the court system,” explained Harthoorn.
“If you get a complaint against you, you have to cover your own legal bills and get your own lawyer knowing that you will never get a penny of that back, even if you are innocent. You will also likely have to devote a few years to fighting it, unless you give up and settle just to avoid more expenses. The complainant does not have to pay anything, even if they lose the case.
“It’s no surprise that the commissions and tribunals across Canada have become favourite places for activists to make life difficult for anyone they don’t like,” Harthoorn observed. “That is especially true given that Section 3 of our Alberta Human Rights Act states that an offense doesn’t even have to occur to find someone guilty, it just ‘could’ occur.”
ARPA is encouraging Albertans to read through the “Stand Up for Freedom Canada” pamphlet, visit the group’s website, (www.HumanRightsCommissions.ca) and contact their local and provincial politicians to express their views.
“We are calling on Albertans to learn the facts themselves by going to the website www.HumanRightsCommissions.ca,” Melanie Harthoorn concluded. “They will also find tools there to contact their MLA and MP because our government representatives have the authority and mandate to reform the commissions or even do away with them altogether.”