Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ROY GREEN: Freedom of Expression? Certainly! Unless......


Freedom of Expression? Certainly! Unless......

From Roy Green’s website.

It is the on air exchange with Canadian Human Rights Commission chief commissioner Jennifer Lynch on freedom of expression (speech) which most resonates during these days when the question of what is and what isn't acceptable speech is the subject of hot debate.

I quizzed the Chief Commissioner on the fact one of her senior investigators, during an actual Human Rights Tribunal hearing, had been quizzed on what value he placed on freedom of speech.  Paraphrasing, his reply was he placed no value on freedom of speech because freedom of speech is an American concept.  When I suggested to Ms. Lynch her investigator ought familiarize himself with the Canadian Constitution in which freedom of speech is enshrined, she countered the investigator was under stress at the time of the hearing and that the Canadian Constitution's reference is to "freedom of expression".  I will concede the Chief Commissioner that point. In Canada the technical term is "freedom of expression", but Canadians when speaking to the issue will invariably consider "freedom of expression" and "freedom of speech" interchangeable.  Besides, the CHRC investigator's view addressed the "concept", not the literal definition.

Freedom of expression and speech have been some will argue under assault and if assault is too harsh, then under review might serve.



Rest at:




MARC LEMIRE: This exchange on the aspects of Freedom of speech, was during my hearing.  The witness was Dean Steacy, “Mr. Section 13” and my fantastic lawyer Barbara Kulaszka was grilling him on the witness stand.   I can tell you, when Dean Steacy made that comment, the entire hearing room went silent.  None of us could believe we just heard what he said.



Bloggers have chimed in on the Roy Green article also:


I remember that interview well,  it was then that Ms. Lynch announced that the CHRC had undergone a moment of clarity, a conversion on the road to Damascus, a change of heart concerning, or more likely a memo from their tax payer funded PR advisers at Hill & Knowlton that the jig was up,  and the CHRC  would no longer allow it's staffers to play at Neo-Nazi's online. [BCF]




Wednesday, January 19, 2011

'Freedom of Information' another empty promise.

'Freedom of Information' another empty promise.


Wednesday, 12 January 2011 02:01 Lethbridge Herald Opinon
Running for political office? You'd better promise "open government" and "transparency."

Everybody's in favour of that, apparently, in civic affairs along with provincial and federal functions.

But once they're elected, it seems, some politicians must be forgetting that pledge. "Freedom of information" becomes just another empty promise.

How else could you explain the news that
Canada now places last among five parliamentary democracies, when it comes to answering citizens' requests for information.

Canada was one of the first nations to pass "freedom of information" laws back in 1983, when Pierre Trudeau was still prime minister but a London-based study shows they're largely disregarded today. Politicians and civil servants acting on their command do all they can, often as not, to hide any information that could show one of them in a poor light.

Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Ireland are all better-served when they ask their governments for disclosure, it shows. Based on official statistics counting requests for information, denials, appeals, court decisions and other related factors, we score lowest.

Researchers at University College in London say this country's law now administered by a government-appointed commissioner is no longer functional. Almost everything, it seems, becomes some kind of state secret.

"Canada comes last, as it has continually suffered from a combination of low use, low political support and a weak information commissioner since its inception," their report says.

While the federal Access to Information Act says any Canadian is entitled to request government-controlled information, the system has become antiquated. Even the commissioner, Suzanne Legault, agrees with their verdict.

"We were seen as the leaders," but those days are long gone, she admits.

"We can use our own data, and come to the conclusion that our system is in decline."

Just 16 per cent of the 35,000 requests for information filed last year led to full disclosure of the information sought, she reports. Ten years ago, it was 40 per cent.

That's because Legault's office is denied the resources it needs to improve service, observers say. And she has no power to order the release of information requested, even when there's no over-riding reason it should remain secret.

That's why Canadians are so often left in the dark when important decisions are being made, whether it's about buying fighter aircraft without calling for tenders, or building new prisons for "unreported crime." If our government won't release studies supporting its big-spending plans, we clearly have a right to remain skeptical.

Not that all the blame lies in Ottawa, of course. Provincial governments may also excel at burying or suppressing information that upsets them. And locally, some city council candidates have criticized Lethbridge officials who, they claim, are not totally transparent in reporting the city's financial affairs.

What makes our nation's bottom ranking more odious, however, is the present Conservative government's promise nearly five years ago to make reforms to our Access to Information Act one of their top priorities. If Stephen Harper's administration is really working on this, it must be another state secret.

Or maybe it was just another empty promise.




Fun times at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal


From bad to worse.


Karma is a b*tch…





Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Gives $9500.00 Bucks To Cop Killer!


OTTAWA — The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ordered the Correctional Service of Canada to pay $9,500 in compensation to a man serving a life sentence for the 1983 murder of an Ontario police officer.


In a decision released Wednesday, the tribunal upheld a discrimination complaint by Peter Michael Collins, who shot and killed police Const. David Utman of Nepean, near Ottawa, at a shopping centre.


Collins, 48, who suffers from chronic and severe back pain, filed a human rights complaint alleging a directive requiring inmates to stand up for a once-a-day count by correctional officers amounted to "adverse differentiation" on the basis of disability.



The [correctional] service advised the tribunal that it recently granted Collins a medical exception, meaning he would no longer be required to stand and be counted.


Despite those admissions, the hearing proceeded in order to deal with Collins' claims for damages for pain and suffering and for special compensation. He was seeking the maximum compensation of $20,000 for each.



Utman, a 38-year-old father of two, was having coffee at a restaurant at the Bayshore Shopping Centre on Oct. 14, 1983, when he encountered Collins, who had escaped from the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.


Training a handgun on the officer, Collins ordered Utman to stand up because he was going to shoot him. He then fired a shot and missed the officer.


Collins again ordered him to stand up, his gun still trained on the officer. Holding his nightstick in his right hand, Utman rose and slowly approached Collins, trying to convince him to turn over his gun.


After inviting Utman to draw his weapon, Collins fired a second shot, hitting Utman in the chest. He died an hour later in hospital.


Collins was found guilty of first-degree murder in 1984 and sentenced to life in prison.




And the most priceless article!





Workers slam 'toxic' environment at human rights tribunal

OTTAWA — The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is facing an outpouring of anger from workers who complain of a toxic workplace that is undermining the quasi-judicial agency's ability to do its job.


More than half of the 25-member staff, including middle and senior level managers, have left, taken sick leave or retired over the past year. At least three have filed formal harassment complaints.


Unions representing workers confirmed they received numerous complaints of abuse of authority, intimidation and personal harassment. They say employees describe a work environment that has deteriorated "to the point of toxicity."


The situation in the tribunal sounds strikingly similar to the poisoned workplace Auditor General Sheila Fraser found when she investigated the Public Sector Integrity Office under the leadership of retired commissioner Christiane Ouimet, said Milt Isaacs, president of the Association of Canadian Financial Officers.


The leaders of three federal unions have taken the unusual step of working together to get an independent investigation into the conflict and to find ways to resolve it.



"There's a toxic work environment. As an employer, you would think they would want to find solutions."



They also say Fraser's stinging report into Ouimet's leadership raises questions whether the government should be more carefully screening the people it selects for such senior posts, including their previous management track record.


Fraser's report found Ouimet was an abusive manager, who yelled, berated, marginalized and intimidated staff, many of whom left. She also concluded the career bureaucrat failed to live up to her mandate. She received 228 complaints over her three years in office, investigated seven but found not one wrongdoing.


Isaacs said these kinds of complaints are even more worrisome when they arise at an agency like the tribunal which should uphold and be sensitive to human rights issues.


The tribunal is Canada's premier human rights adjudication body. It acts like court and rules on cases referred to it by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.