THE CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (The Commission)
Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, The Commission protects the human rights of all individuals lawfully present in Canada. It promotes a vision for Canada where all individuals have equal opportunity and are able to live their lives free from discrimination.
The Commission is responsible for dealing with allegations of discrimination. By law, it is bound to screen every discrimination complaint it receives. When possible, The Commission encourages people to try to solve their disputes informally. In the event people are unable to solve the matter themselves, The Commission may conduct an investigation. If it believes the complaint has merit, The Commission can send it to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for further examination. Otherwise, the complaint is dismissed.
In some instances, The Commission can also appear before the Tribunal. This occurs when The Commission feels that the complaint deals with a matter of public interest. This includes decisions that have the potential to clarify, influence, shape or define human rights law in Canada.
The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) is a statute passed by the Parliament of Canada in 1977 with the express goal of extending the law to ensure equal opportunity to individuals who may be victims of discriminatory practices based on a set of prohibited grounds such as sex, sexual orientation, race, marital status, creed, age, colour, disability, political or religious belief. But, it is also stated that while the Canadian Human Rights Act applies throughout Canada, that it is fully applicable only to federally regulated activities; each province and territory thus has its own anti-discrimination law that applies to activities that are not federally regulated. Thus, we have a hodgepodge of jurisdictional matters and unequally applied laws due to unequal definition contexts from coast to coast; and the CHRC has been justifiably criticized over its investigations of alleged hate speech as well as its procedures regarding admissibility of evidence. Such criticism is probably even more warranted when you look at the activities of the Provincial-Territorial Human Rights Commissions established.
On May 17, 2016, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Bill C-16) was introduced to the Canadian House of Commons, to add and include “gender identity or expression” to the legislation, by the Liberal Government of PM Justin Trudeau. If enacted the bill will add “gender identity or expression” as a prohibited ground of discrimination. That would make it illegal to deny services, employment, accommodation and similar benefits to individuals based on their gender identity or expression. An individual who denies benefits based on the gender identity or expression could be civilly liable for monetary damages to the individual denied benefits. This prohibition supposedly would only apply to matters falling within federal jurisdiction.
The bill also proposes to amend the Criminal Code by adding “gender identity or expression” to the definition of “identifiable group” in section 318. That amendment would make it a criminal offence to spread hate propaganda based on gender identity or expression, contrary to section 318, and would also make it a criminal offence to advocate genocide based on gender identity or expression, contrary to section 319 of the Code.
The bill also proposes to add “gender identity or expression” to section 718.2 of the Code. This section is part of the sentencing provisions and would make it an aggravating factor to commit a criminal offence motivated by the gender identity or expression of the victim.
These criminal prohibitions would apply across Canada.
THE PROCESS OF ENACTING FEDERAL BILLS
A bill must pass the legislative process in the House of Commons, then the Senate, and finally receive Royal Assent before it will become law. In Canada, the Governor-General may give assent either in person at a ceremony held in the Senate or by a written declaration notifying parliament of his or her agreement to the bill. If the Governor General of Canada is unable to give assent, it can be done by either the Deputy of the Governor General, or the Chief Justice of Canada—or another justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. It is not actually necessary for the governor general to sign a bill passed by a legislature, the signature being merely an attestation. In each case, the parliament must be apprised of the granting of assent before the bill is considered to have become law. Two methods are available: the sovereign’s representatives may grant assent in the presence of both houses of parliament; alternatively, each house may be notified separately, usually by the speaker of that house. However, though both houses must be notified on the same day, notice to the House of Commons while it is not in session may be given by way of publishing a special issue of the Journals of the House of Commons, whereas the Senate must be sitting and the governor general’s letter read aloud by the speaker.
Final approval of the Federal Bills in Canada is assent through the lieutenant governors of the provinces and their offices can become a “pass the buck process of delay due to political designs of incumbents”. A lieutenant governor may defer assent to the governor general, and the governor general may defer assent to federal bills to the sovereign authority over the province. The lieutenant governors are plain and simply a process of patronage and attempted political manipulations. While required by the tenets of constitutional monarchy to be nonpartisan during their time in office, lieutenant governors have frequently been former politicians and some have returned to politics following their vice regal service. Canadian lieutenant governorships have also been used to promote women and minorities into a prominent position.
In Canada, a lieutenant governor is the vice regal representative in a provincial jurisdiction of the Canadian monarch and head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, who resides predominantly in her oldest realm, the United Kingdom. On the advice of his or her prime minister, the Governor General of Canada appoints the lieutenant governors to carry out most of the monarch’s constitutional and ceremonial duties for an unfixed period of time known as serving at His Excellency’s pleasure—though five years is the normal convention. Similar positions in Canada’s three territories are termed Commissioners and are representatives of the federal government, however, not the monarch directly.
These appointments are usually done in consultation with the relevant premier of a province or territorial head. In 2012, the Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments was established to create a non-binding shortlist of candidates to be presented to the prime minister when the appointment of a lieutenant governor is upcoming.
Incumbents are constitutionally mandated to serve for at least five years, unless the federal parliament agrees to remove the individual from office. Also, the prime minister may recommend to the governor general that the viceroy remain in the Crown’s service for a longer period of time, sometimes upwards of more than ten years. And, in some provinces, the associated chief justice has a standing appointment as the provincial administrator. Besides the administration of the oaths of office, there is no set formula for the swearing-in of a lieutenant governor-designate.
To sum up: “a lieutenant governors’ primary task is to perform the sovereign’s constitutional duties on his or her behalf, acting within the principles of parliamentary democracy and responsible government as a guarantor of continuous and stable governance, and as a nonpartisan safeguard against the abuse of power. The office is the core of authority in a province.
For the most part, however, the powers of the Crown are exercised on a day-to-day basis by elected and appointed individuals, leaving the lieutenant governors to perform the various ceremonial duties the sovereign.”
The system truly does not function as a non-partisan safeguard against the abuse of power, and to say it does is hypocritical.
THE CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
But, it is through the Canadian Human Rights Commission which administers the Canadian Human Rights Act that much of our legal morass has evolved and not just the judicial bodies we call our Courts of Justice. The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) was established in 1977 by the government of Canada. As stated in the foregoing, it is empowered under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) to investigate and try to settle complaints of discrimination in employment and in the provision of services within federal jurisdiction.
The Employment Equity Act of 1995 Employment equity (Canada)
The CHRC is also empowered under the Employment Equity Act to ensure that federally regulated employers provide equal opportunities for four designated groups: women, Aboriginal people, the disabled and visible minorities. The CHRC helps enforce these human rights and inform the general public and employers of these rights. The Act states that “employment equity means more than treating persons the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences.”
Barriers to employment are to be removed for the four designated groups and the term reasonable accommodation is often used for the removal of such barriers to employment. Examples of employment barriers are wheelchair inaccessible buildings, or practices that make members of a designated group uncomfortable, such as holding management meetings in strip clubs. Employers are also required to institute positive policies for the hiring, training, retention, and promotion of members of the designated groups.
The Employment Equity Act is federal legislation, and as such, applies only to a narrow group of industries that are federally regulated under the Canadian constitution. Overall, federal employment equity legislation covers only 6% of the Canadian workforce, thus the scope of the Employment Equity Act is quite limited, and the vast majority of employers, including nearly all retailers and manufacturing companies, fall outside its jurisdiction.
The Canadian federal government also administers the Federal Contractors’ Program (FCP). This is not part of the Employment Equity Act, but rather is a non-legislated program that extends employment equity to organizations beyond the scope of the Act. The FCP states that suppliers of goods and services to the federal government (with some specified exceptions) must have an employment equity program in place. This is basically a federal government form of coercion; if the contractors desire the funds available through federal contracts they must have the equity program with all its rules in place.
Some provinces also use the term employment equity in conjunction with their enforcement of provincial-level human rights legislation. However, while every province has human rights legislation to prohibit discrimination against women and various minorities, no province has a law that is an analogue to the federal Employment Equity Act.
Oversight of employment equity is shared among three federal government agencies, of which the Canadian Human Rights Commission is but one. The CHRC deals with both private and public-sector employers that are federally regulated, and it is also responsible for conducting audits of employers’ compliance.
However, Employment Equity is surrounded with controversy and has in some areas further muddied the waters of what best designates hate/bias crimes. But, in ways it is distinct from other propounded human rights concepts.
The Canadian Human Rights Act has long prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, and certain other grounds. But the key distinction between the two laws is that the Canadian Human Rights Act merely prohibits discrimination, whereas the Employment Equity Act requires employers to engage in proactive measures to improve the employment opportunities of the four specific groups listed above. Note that the Canadian Human Rights Act protects a wider range of minorities, such as sexual and religious minorities, while the Employment Equity Act limits its coverage to the aforementioned four protected groups. In Canada, employment equity is a specific legal concept, and should not be used as a synonym for non-discrimination or workplace diversity. Neither should employment equity be confused with pay equity, which is an entirely distinct concept. Pay equity, as a Canadian legal term, refers to the legal requirement that predominantly female occupations be paid the same as predominantly male occupations of equal importance within a given organization.
Once again Trudeau into the Trenches with his Woe Begotten Wenches. She could not perform satisfactorily within the Liberal Ministerial ranks. This naturally qualified her to become the first female Provincial lieutenant-governor. What did Newfoundland and Labrador do to have this foisted upon them?
It is a righteous action with God that this take place.
Galatians 4:16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?