Alberta's new HRC boss off to a bad start
A week after Alberta's well-respected Sheldon Chumir Foundation recommended a wholesale overhaul of the province's human rights commission -- including the elimination of its censorship provisions -- the province announced the appointment of a new chief commissioner. He's a former judge, David Mason.
I have two different views on this. The first is satisfaction that at least there is now someone in the HRC who presumably knows (and hopefully cares) about such trifles as the rule of law, natural justice, disclosure of documents, abuse of process, nuisance suits, and all of the other petty corruptions that have plagued Alberta's HRCs under previous chief commissioners. So that's a positive. (I note, however, that Alberta's HRC is still staffed by radical activists, and the hearings are heard by people like Diane Colley-Urquhart, who is not a judge and not even a lawyer -- she's a nurse by training. I like nurses when I have a minor medical issue. But this nurse presumes to determine fundamental legal issues like freedom of speech and freedom of religion. She's also a hyper-partisan alderman. Frankly, I'd rather trust my constitutional freedoms to my garbageman than to her -- at least he's got some common sense and isn't looking for the political angle.)
But my primary response is that we don't need Alberta's HRC to work "better". We need it to be shut down. I don't want a more efficient HRC; I don't want a more professional HRC. I just don't want an HRC.
Alberta is one of the most tolerant places on Earth. Every corner of our society is pluralistic, from politics to business to the arts. We didn't need an HRC to make it that way -- it happened despite the HRC. In fact, in their last annual report, Alberta's HRC conceded that the number of complaints they investigated fell by 15% over the previous year -- this, despite Alberta's skyrocketing population growth, especially minorities.
Nobody's buying what the HRC is selling -- grievances and race-hustling.
There might have been an excuse for an HRC forty years ago -- though I doubt it. But we've already won those human rights battles. Time for the activists to move on to some more productive work, not to make permanent their complaining, to turn it into an industry.
It's clear that Alberta's Tories lack both the philosophical integrity or the political will to scrap the HRC. But will they reform it? Is that Mason's mandate?
In today's Calgary Herald, his first public utterance as the Chief Commissioner is deeply disappointing:
Mason said his first priority is to meet with officials from human rights commissions in Ontario and British Columbia to discuss how they revamped the tribunal process.
“I believe a solid start can be made and I look forward to the process,” Mason said.
Huh? He's looking to B.C. and Ontario as example of reform?
Other than the Canadian Human Rights Commission -- an HRC so rotten that it hires disgraced police officers thrown off the force for corruption -- the two worst HRCs are those in Ontario and B.C.
Ontario is run by Barbara Hall, the Marxist former mayor of Toronto thrown out unceremoniously by voters, only to be revived in her dream job: permanent politically correct scold, on the public's dime. Seriously -- that's the woman who issued a condemnation of Maclean's magazine and Mark Steyn, declaring them to be racist, all without the bother of even holding a hearing into the matter.
This is the HRC from which Mason seeks advice? Hall thinks Ontarians are racist, and she has even come up with a form of "quota" for complaints. She thinks there's not enough racial acrimony, so she is demanding her staff go out and drum it up. She actually told the National Post that she wants complaints to "spike".
I know Alberta's HRC would want that -- bigger budgets, more self-important lawyers and bureaucrats, etc., etc. But why would anyone else want that?
And B.C.? There is no nuttier HRC in the country, bar none. Despite her unprofessional and undignfied slurs against Maclean's and Steyn, at least Hall rejected the complaints against them. Not so in B.C., where they had a five-day hearing that to call it a kangaroo court would be an insult to kangaroos. B.C. is the insane jurisdiction that is actually proceeding with an HRC complaint against comedian Guy Earle, because he hurt some hecklers' feelings. B.C. is the jurisdiction that ruled that McDonald's employees don't have to wash their hands, because there's "no evidence" that frequency of handwashing is linked to hygiene. (Seriously, read paragraph 240 of the ruling.)
I think I know what's happening. I think Mason has already been seized by the permanent staff at the HRC, and been fed the "official line". I think that, just like in the TV series "Yes, Minister", he's being spoonfed the official view, probably even by some of the more illiberal staff there, such as the Muslim supremacist Arman Chak.
The Chumir Foundation proposed a lot of tinkering changes to the HRC -- all of which the HRC would hate, because it circumscribes their powers. Making those reforms would be like trimming a weed, not pulling it out by its roots.
But if Mason's first statement is anything to go by -- if B.C. and Ontario are his role models -- he's about to make things a lot worse, not better.
The Herald gave the last word in their story to me:
“It’s a ‘make-work’ project for lawyers, bureaucrats and busybodies,” [Levant] said.
Mason's first day on the job is not encouraging.