Why we should transfer cases of unlawful discrimination to impartial courts
Last year Ontario’s College of Physicians and Surgeons debated making it “unethical” for doctors to decline, as a matter of conscience, to perform controversial medical procedures on otherwise healthy patients. If adopted, the policy could have forced pro-life doctors to perform abortions or risk losing their license to practice medicine in Ontario.
In defending its action, the College explained that it was merely preempting the province’s Human Rights Commission. Fortunately, an outcry from the public prompted some sober second thought and the College decided to back-track. The decision amounts to little more than a temporary reprieve, however, since both doctors and the College could still be prosecuted by the Commission.
The controversy may not have garnered the same publicity as the cases involving Mark Steyn or Ezra Levant, but it still showed how, rather than protecting rights, Human Rights Commissions and their associated Tribunals are being used by political hacks and patronage appointees to suppress opposition and impose uniformity of thought and expression across our country.
There is great danger in this. Principled dissent isn’t just something that’s tolerated in a free and democratic society; it’s the very wellspring from which our democratic traditions and institutions flow. Without it, our society might never have rid itself of the scourge of slavery; women might still be denied the right to vote.
That’s why I have proposed the dismantling of Ontario’s Human Rights Commission and the transfer of cases of unlawful discrimination to impartial courts, where rules of evidence apply and the constitutional rights of everyone – including the accused – are protected.
It has been suggested that what I’m proposing is impractical – that the high cost of litigation will discourage victims of discrimination from lodging complaints in the first place.
But why should it? Citizens lodge complaints with the authorities all the time for alleged wrongdoing, and not just criminal wrongdoing either. If, after an investigation, a complaint is found to have merit, charges are laid and the matter is dispensed with through the normal legal process. At no time in this process is the complainant required to pay money or hire a lawyer. Why would it be any different if the alleged infraction involves unlawful discrimination?
The answer is – it wouldn’t. The high cost of litigation is nothing more than a red herring.
Dismantling the province’s broken and corrupt HRC and transferring its cases to real courts is just one of a series of principled policy objectives I have brought forward during this campaign. To learn more about these policies, please visit my website at www.hillierforleader.com.