How Alberta's human rights commission sees itself
The commission states that the HRC's official website received, on average, 22,717 visits a month. In three days, my single blog entry about an Alberta HRC staffer named Arman Chak clocked more readers than that. A few of my posts about the HRC have exceeded that traffic in a single day.
I don't note this just to boast; I note this as part of my theme of "denormalization". It is important that Canadian HRCs receive more media coverage than they've ever received before, to shine the light of public scrutiny on their abuses of natural justice and their infringements of our constitutional rights. If my own little blog has almost ten times the traffic of the HRC's site, imagine how much information the entire blogosphere has imparted about the true nature of these commissions -- Free Mark Steyn crested its 100,000th visitor earlier this month, after only three months on the job. It will be interesting to see what the HRC's own traffic is like in their next annual report. I imagine it's grown tremendously, merely from hostile bloggers linking directly to appalling HRC rulings.
The HRCs aren't used to the kind of scrutiny they're receiving these days. They hate it.
Another interesting statistic about the Alberta HRC is that the number of complaints they received actually plunged by 15% year over year -- down from 778 to 659. This, despite the fact that Alberta's population has grown over the same period, and the province is more multiracial than ever. Maybe that's why the HRC came after me for publishing cartoons: they needed to drum up more business, so they were lowering their standards. That's pretty much how it goes for human rights commissions across the country -- the real fights for racial, religious and sexual equality have been won, so the HRCs, in order to perpetuate their existence, invent new and strange problems to solve. If it weren’t for Richard Warman, the federal HRC wouldn’t have any section 13 thought crime complaints at all anymore.
I’ve read all of the Alberta HRC rulings for the past few years and, going from memory, I can’t think of a single case that had to do with someone being denied housing on the basis of their race or religion. That was actually one of the big rationales for the HRC in the first place – that minorities couldn’t rent apartments because of racist landlords. The other big rationale for HRCs was to protect minorities from being fired for bigoted reasons. Again, spend some time surfing the rulings. There are plenty of HRC cases involving fired employees, but the bulk of them are workers who were injured and laid off – and wanted a bump-up from what the were entitled to under workers’ compensation or their collective agreement. As Alan Borovoy continually reminds us, the original purpose of these HRCs has long been lost.
Fewer cases, but dragging them out
Despite the 15% decline in complaints filed, the average time it took to resolve a complaint increased by 7%, from 382 days to 410 days. So we’re looking at a combined decline in productivity of 22% in a single year. That’s not the best of it, though: the commission says its goal is to complete complaints in – wait for it – 435 days. That’s not a typo – their goal is to get even slower.
Stop for a moment and think about what this would mean if the HRC was actually doing what it was supposed to do – helping someone who was fired from a job or kicked out of an apartment. It would be useless -- coming to the aid of a downtrodden person a year and a half after they were kicked out of their home. But deployed to its new purpose – shaking down extra severance pay from employers, or grinding Christian pastors into powder (Rev. Boissoin’s case took a whopping five years to complete) – and the bureaucratic molasses has a new and obvious purpose: the slower the process, the more punitive it becomes to the respondents. Not only do they have to retain lawyers (and spend hundreds of hours of their own time) but the stigma of the accusation remains on them for years. In my own case, I’m well past the 700 day mark, and we haven’t even set things down for a hearing – we’re still at the “investigation” stage.
Perhaps one of the reasons for the HRC’s plummeting productivity is the sheer number of junkets that HRC staff attend around the world. HRC staff travel to important meetings across Canada, and have joined important Government-Organized Non-Government Organizations at the U.N. – a great way to be invited to countries at the forefront of human rights, such as Libya and Iran. Perhaps it was to show off to their new friends at the U.N. that the Alberta HRC decided to prosecute me for publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. We’re not exporting Canadian values of free speech and rule of law; we’re importing Saudi values of censorship and sharia law.
No public demand
The number of complaints to the HRC fell 15% last year. So, like any business selling something that the public doesn’t want, the HRC commissioned a survey. Fully 88.1% of Albertans said that human rights were “fairly well” or “very well” protected in Alberta, up from 86.7% the year before. Now this stunningly high number – given the margin of error, Albertans are almost unanimous that human rights are fine here – might be due to the commission’s stellar efforts, including their well-ignored website, and their Oprah-style workshops that the HRC puts on for the handful of companies who request them. Or – call me crazy – our satisfaction might just have nothing to do with the HRC's self-important, psychobabble at all. We’re satisfied despite them.
Outrageous powers of the HRC
Most of the HRC’s annual report is laughable. But some of it is terrifying. Take the page that outlines examples of remedies that the HRC can order. The annual report gives an example of someone who was fired from a job for racial reasons. (By the way, I cannot remember a single example of this in the decisions I’ve read).
Someone who is fired “without cause” – and being fired for racial reasons would fall into that category – has a claim in a real court. He’d sue for “wrongful dismissal”. And he’d win. And employment law already has a built-in way of dealing with unfairness like racism: besides giving the ex-employee a normal severance payment based on things like the length of time worked, courts take into account the manner in which an employer fires an employee – whether or not that act was done cruelly, for example. The remedy is always the same: an order for compensation. Unlike “human rights law”, employment law goes back centuries, and balances the rights of employees and employers. It’s also realistic: courts know that if there was a breakdown in the employer-employee relationship, and the employer was to blame, the only sensible remedy is cash – not trying to force the two parties back into a relationship again. But look at what the HRCs have the power to do, trumping – or adding on to – what real courts give to ex-employees:
“… the recommended remedy may call on the employer to do one or more of the following:
• provide an apology to the complainant
• provide a job reference for the complainant
• commit to not repeating the behaviour or ensuring the behaviour will not be repeated in the workplace
• re-instate the complainant to his or her former job
• make financial compensation to the complainant for lost income
• make financial compensation for pain and suffering, humiliation and embarrassment, or injury to dignity and self respect
The recommended remedy may also call on the employer to:
• have an education session on human rights
• introduce a non-discrimination policy into the workplace
• stop a behaviour or practice found to be discriminatory
• set up internal processes to deal with any future complaints that may arise”
That’s not employment law. That’s social engineering. That’s expropriating a company, or at least its human resources decisions. That’s untrained busybodies telling companies how to run themselves. And all of this is layered on top of what real courts already award employees who were wrongfully dismissed – HRCs do not step out of the way for other courts; they pile on.
The human right to receive a government rent subsidy while still living with your mom
One of the more enjoyable things about the HRC’s annual report was to see how real courts smack down the kangaroo courts from time to time. It doesn’t happen often enough, of course – most respondents lack the money or the time to appeal a decision, and courts still show too much deference to HRCs. But there was a wonderful court of appeal case noted in the annual report that shows the difference between real law and the counterfeit law conducted by the HRCs.
In a laughable 2004 decision by Lori Andreachuk – the same bigot who ruled that Rev. Stephen Boissoin’s freedom of religion and freedom of speech are trumped by the right not to be offended – the Alberta HRC ruled that a grown man was entitled to receive a government housing allowance even though he was still living at home with his mother. That’s right: it’s your human right to indefinitely mooch off both the taxpayer and your parents at the same time.
In this case, the appellant was the Government of Alberta that suddenly had images of paying an allowance to every twenty- thirty- and forty-something couch potato in the province who “failed to launch”. The government finally won at the Court of Appeal. But the only reason they won was because they had the time and money to waste, out-lawyering and out-red-taping the HRC ‘crats. No-one else could have beat the HRC.
The Alberta HRC has recently received national attention because of its war against Rev. Boissoin, and now its war against me for publishing the cartoons. But Andreachuk’s decision in the Human Resources and Employment case was just as stupid, if not as dangerous -- it deserves to be known and ridiculed, too.
The one last thing I’ll point out about the Alberta HRC is that, not surprisingly, it has offices in Alberta’s two major cities. But there is another layer of HRC sediment on top of that, of course – the Canadian Human Rights Commission itself has jurisdiction in Alberta, too – with their regional offices and 170 staff. That’s not just a sign of a bloated, unionized, make-work project. It’s a legal problem – too many human rights provocateurs all chasing after the same real – or imagined – human rights crimes. It’s one of the reasons why Mark Steyn and Maclean’s were hit with not one but three identical human rights complaints (two of which are still proceeding). In criminal law, this is illegal – it’s called double jeopardy. You can’t be tried for the same crime more than once. Steyn was charged three times. And not only are there no limits on the number of HRCs in different jurisdictions that can hear the same case, Maclean’s style, there is no limit on the number of complainants who can file identical complaints within the same jurisdiction. That’s why, when Syed Soharwardy dropped his complaint against me earlier this year, I had no relief – his jihadist allies in Edmonton have filed an identical complaint, the prosecution of which continues.
Next year’s report
Reading the HRC’s annual report was a fascinating glimpse into the nanny state’s mindset. If I lacked self-respect and a work ethic – and thought that government knew best – it would be a great place to work a solid 30 hours a week. That’s the kind of place it’s been for years; Canada is one of the most harmonious countries in the world; discrimination hasn’t been a pressing problem here for decades. But into these lazy government sinecures have crept bitter ideologues like Lori Andreachuk, and dangerous radicals like Arman Chak. It’s my personal goal to make sure their next annual report is a tale of legal setbacks and political woes.