Reproduced by LifeSite with permission of The Conservative Times – May/June 1999
By Tim Bloedow
Federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan has confirmed some of the worst fears of conservatives
with her announcement of a review of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA).
Dick Field, chairman of the Voice of Canadians Committees (VOCC), calls it a put-up job,
comparing it with someone who asks the local arsonist how to stop the fires that are razing
houses on his street.
Reform Justice Critic, John Reynolds, called the panel “an incestuous little group.” And said
the purpose of this exercise is “to feed theleft-wing liberals across the country.”
Ron Gray, leader of the Christian Heritage Party (CHP), says he views it “with extreme
apprehension.”“Our concern is not merely with the fact of a review,” he told The Conservative Times, “but
with the built-in bias of the panel’s mandate, and with some of the new ideas [Ms. McLellan]
has proposed and some of the team assembled to perform the task.”
Conservatives are crying foul, complaining that they have been all but shut out of the process.
Mr. Field told The Conservative Times that the members of the panel are “so overwhelmingly in
conflict of interest [because they are] part of the human rights establishment.”
Mr. Field, a Toronto-area activist, has spread his influence throughout Ontario through the
formation of local grassroots organizations under the umbrella of VOCC or the Montgomery Tavern
Ms. McLellan’s announcement on April 8 of the review indicates an intent to strengthen the
legislation and improve the ability to prosecute people for “human rights” violations. In the
course of the review, the panel has been asked to consider the value of adding yet another
category of discrimination – “social condition.”
Currently, the list includes such categories as sex, race, family status and sexual orientation.
The CHRA applies to the federal government and federally-regulated corporations.
Abolishing the human rights industry
In most circles, human rights seem to be a non-negotiable part of modern Canadian society. Some
conservatives, however, want Canada’s human rights industry abolished or, at least, radically
Mr. Field is such an individual. “It has to be dispensed with,” he says “because it’s in
conflict with the whole idea of presumption of innocence, a fair justice system, and the
equality of each individual under the same law.”
Mr. Gray echoes these concerns, charging that the human rights tribunals “disregard normal rules
of evidence, presumption of innocence, and the protection against self-incrimination.
But this is as it should be, believes William Black, perhaps the most radical member of Anne
McLellan’s human rights review panel.
Mr. Black headed a review of the British Columbia human rights industry in 1994. The final report, which is named after Mr. Black, reads:
“The primary weakness of the [human rights] legislation of [the 1940s and 1950s] was that
enforcement was by means of prosecution for a penal offence. This approach brought with it all
the safeguards that apply to penal legislation. For example, the violation had to be proved
beyond a reasonable doubt, and the accused had a right to remain silent.” “As applied to discrimination, these rules made enforcement almost impossible,” the report continues. “It was especially difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the motive for refusing to deal with a person was race or religion rather than some legitimate reason.”
Instead of seeing this as evidence for the illegitimacy of prosecuting discrimination, Mr. Black
and his colleagues, defended the need to change legal principles in order to accommodate the
human rights industry.
Mr. Gray told The Conservative Times that he participated in some public hearings during the BC
review process, adding that Mr. Black’s “pro-homosexual and anti-Christian biases were
consistently apparent during those hearings.”
The Reform Party’s John Reynolds criticized the Justice Minister for misplaced priorities in
terms of her human rights review. “We have good human rights protection in Canada; good laws,
There are 400 RCMP vacancies in BC, he told The Conservative Times, yet the Justice Minister has
found enough money to appoint four people to review the federal human rights industry.
He also questioned why a panel of appointees is needed to review the CHRA instead of having the
Parliamentary Justice Committee do the job. The Justice Minister claims that the impetus behind
the review is criticism about the current system from the Auditor-General.
Extremists all around
The CHRA review panel is headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Gérard La Forest.
He is actually a fair and thoughtful individual, Gwen Landolt, vice-president of REAL Women,
told The Conservative Times. But she said she suspects he was simply “pasted onto” the committee
to give it credibility.
Mr. La Forest received the praise of conservatives in 1995 when he wrote the majority decision
in the Nesbitt and Egan case, defending traditional marriage against a claim for same-sex
On the other hand, in 1991 he ruled against a teacher who insisted that he should not have to
pay union dues because they were being directed to political causes that violated his conscience.
The high profile case was funded by the National Citizens’ Coalition.
Also on the review panel are Renée Dupuis, a Quebec lawyer with expertise in the area of
Aboriginal issues, and Harish Jain, a labour relations professor at McMaster University.
Ms. Dupuis served as a commissioner on the Canadian Human Rights Commission from 1989-95.
Mr. Jain is a strong advocate of legislated employment equity and he believes that “systemic
discrimination” is a very prevalent problem in Canada today.
He was on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) from 1986-98 (the Justice Department press release has his tribunal term ending in 1992).
Over the past decade he appears to have accused almost everybody of discrimination against
“minorities,” including the media, trade unions, business and the civil government.
In 1994, he came to the defense of Toronto-area MP Jag Bhaduria, who was kicked out of the
Liberal caucus for lying on his resumé. “If it was a white person, I don’t think a politician
would have been as hounded as him,” he said.
Probably most disturbing, however, is the fact that he was on the tribunal last year when, in
a case involving holocaust revisionist Ernst Zundel, they ruled that truth is not a sufficient
defense against charges of discrimination.
The role of the panel Ms. McLellan has given the review panel one year and $3.5 million to do
their work. They are supposed to report back to her by April 8, 2000.
The review will include determining “the adequacy of the scope and jurisdiction of the Act”,
reviewing the “complaints-based model”, “examin[ing] the powers and procedures of the CHRC and
the CHRT”, and ensuring that the CHRA “accords with modern human rights and equality principles.”
Reviewing the complaints-based model is “Liberal newspeak [for] giving the human rights
tribunals far-reaching power to initiate their own investigations,” charges Ron Gray.
The panel has been told to consult with “the public, the Canadian Human Rights Commission,
employers, unions, equality-seeking groups, government departments and other interested parties.”
Conservatives don’t hold out much hope of having their views entertained by the panel,
especially in view of the limited ability for compromise on the issue.
“I don’t think any society – if it wants to remain free – sets up laws that apply only to a
certain group of individuals,” said Mr. Field. “It’s not fair; it’s nor right; it’s not just;
it’s not a part of our system. There is no compromise on that.”
Mr. Field and others including the CHP and Paul Fromm, head of the Canadian Association of
Freedom of Expression (CAFE), intend to try to appear before the committee to make their views
known during the public consultations.
John Reynolds also told The Conservative Times that the Reform Party would be monitoring the
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