Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 23, 2008
Human Rights Act foils reasoned debate
Stelmach should amend act so that justice will reign
A Shepherd Speaks
By BISHOP FRED HENRY
For inane stupidity and gross miscarriage of justice our own Alberta Human Rights Tribunal deserves to take first prize.
The conflict between social pressure and the demands of right conscience can lead to the dilemma either of abandoning a profession or of compromising one's convictions.
Faced with that tension, despite the ruling of the commission, we must remember that there is a middle path that opens up before workers who are faithful to their conscience. It is the path of conscientious objection, which ought to be respected by all, especially legislators.
Every person has the right to have their religious beliefs reasonably accommodated.
Each judgment emanating out of our various human right commissions seems to be more brazen and bizarre than the one that preceded it. However, for inane stupidity and gross miscarriage of justice our own Alberta Human Rights Tribunal deserves to take first prize for its treatment of Stephen Boissoin.
June 2008: The Alberta Human Rights Tribunal fined Stephen Boissoin, $5,000.
Section 30 of the Alberta Human Rights Act states: "Evidence may be given before a human rights panel in any manner that the panel considers appropriate, and the panel is not bound by the rules of law respecting evidence in judicial proceedings."
It would also seem that this panel is also not bound by reasonable argument or the elementary rules of logic but is free to skewer anyone not espousing and proclaiming politically correct views.
Darren Lund, the complainant, said that Boissoin's words in his 2002 letter to the Red Deer Advocate were hateful, and furthermore, an assault on a gay teenager three weeks later could be connected to them. No proof of either was presented.
Lori Andreachuk, the chairperson of the tribunal, agreed that his words were "likely" to expose gays, "a vulnerable" group to hatred due to their sexual orientation. No court in the land would connect the letter and the assault but this silly tribunal did.
Andreachuk acknowledged, "In this case, there is no specific individual who can be compensated as there is no direct victim who has come forward."
However, she also wrote: "Dr. Lund, although not a direct victim, did expend considerable time and energy and suffered ridicule and harassment as a result of his complaint. The panel finds therefore that he is entitled to some compensation." One might ask on what grounds?
She concluded that Boissoin "shall pay to Dr. Lund an award for damages, jointly and severally, in the amount of $5,000." Lund wasn't the victim of any kind of discrimination and yet he is handsomely paid and, subsequently, was feted as Gay Pride Parade marshall in Calgary.
The tribunal effectively stripped Boissoin of his right to freedom of speech. "Mr. Boissoin . . . shall cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals."
What is meant by "disparaging"? This is tantamount to ruling out honest debate and a plurality of views in the public sphere lest someone be offended by a differing viewpoint.
The tribunal decided to extract a further pound of flesh by way of public humiliation. "Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. provide Dr. Lund with a written apology for the article in the Red Deer Advocate which was the subject of this complaint." What happens if Lund is not satisfied with the apology?
Mr. Premier, we have talked enough about the inadequate provisions of and appointment to the Alberta Human Rights Tribunals. It is time to repeal Section 3(1)(b) of the Alberta Human Rights Act and to protect the rights of religious freedom. Every person has the right to make public statements and participate in public debate on religious grounds.
(Editor's Note: Section 3(1)(b) of the Alberta Human Rights Act states, "No person shall publish, issue or display or cause to be published, issued or displayed before the public any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt because of the race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income or family status of that person or class of persons.")
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