A little while ago, we informed our readership of Saskatchewan’s push to abolish their Human Rights Tribunal and refer all human rights complaints to real courts, heard by real judges. This is a step in the right direction, but there are cons to this approach as well.
Derek From, from the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) explains the inherent problems that still exist:
“The elimination of the Tribunal aside, Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code is still on the books. And remember, it’s a bad law that has produced some disastrous effects for freedom of expression. Shifting the forum for hearing human rights complaints may not produce any positive results because the courts will still have to enforce a bad law.”
Click here to read the entire article. It’s a good short read and I highly recommend it.
Mr. From makes a number of good points. Certainly, judges will be asked to enforce a law that is, at its root, bad law, and there is much room for improvement. However, although this is not a perfect solution, we hope this is a step in the right direction; we hope that real judges will recognize that the Human Rights Code, when interpreted in light of the Charter (especially the Fundamental Freedoms outlined in section 2) are flawed and unconstitutional. And because a ruling against the legitimacy of the Code does not jeopardize a judge’s job (as it does for a Tribunal which is an inherent conflict of interest for that forum, incidentally), hopefully judges will be compelled to make that decision from time to time.
Or hopefully judges will award damages or costs to defendants for frivolous complaints. And hopefully most judges are not so entrenched in the “human rights industry”, as is required in order to be on a Commission or Tribunal, which would otherwise create a bias on the part of the hearer of the case. And hopefully our judges will use real evidence as is required by real courts, and will enforce those rules of evidence. So, here’s to hoping and here’s to more!