Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Human Rights Commision doing their Job

One of the most publicized case, recently put towards the Human Rights Commission was the case against Macleans magazine. Macleans had republished a series of articles outlining growth of Muslim population and how it would influence Canadian culture. The article discussed the negative results of this demographic shift. A group of Muslim Osgoode Law students submitted a lengthy rebuttal to the articles. When the magazine refused to publish their response they took the issue to the Human Rights Commission.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed the case. Their decision demonstrates that these commissions still have the ability to balance the fine line between reasonable accommodation, discrimination and practical common sense. The decision is a victory for freedom of speech. It upholds the editor's right to have full discretion on what pieces are fit for their publication. It would be a tragedy if religious/political/ethnic groups could force an opposing sides resources to promote their own ideas.

The most disturbing part of this story is when the case was originally brought before the Ontario Human Rights Commission. While ruling that the case was out of jurisdiction Barbara Hall was clear that she would have ruled against Macleans magazine if she could. Hall demonstrated incredibly poor judgement by choosing to interfere in a case out of her hands. The fact that the CHRC disagreed with her further demonstrates that her judgement should be taken into question.

Barbara Hall needs to reevaluate her approach to cases brought before her. She needs to be objective enough not to make a decision before she has had a chance to carefully consider all of the evidence. She must also learn that her position as a Human Rights Commissioner needs to be a highly respected position with the highest level of integrity. She cannot use the OHRC as a platform to express her personal thoughts and feelings. Hall should pay careful attention to this ruling and adjust her approach to job. If she wants to be an advocate for particular groups, she should be prepared to offer her resignation.