It gets worse

  • June 27, 2008

{mosimage}Over the last few months, we’ve been warning about the power of the federal and provincial human rights tribunals and their willingness to abuse this power to trample on the Constitution. Yet our fear was more about the potential for greater abuse, rather than existing practice.

However, events are moving more rapidly than expected — and for the worse. A decision by the Alberta Human Rights Commission represents the most flagrant abuse of constitutional rights yet demonstrated across the country.

On May 30, the commission ordered Stephen Boissoin, a former Christian youth pastor, to publicly apologize for speaking “disparagingly” about homosexuals. Worse, the commission ordered Boissoin to never again — that’s right, for the rest of his life — write or speak about homosexuals in this fashion in the media, on the Internet, in public speaking engagements or in e-mails.

Boissoin was also ordered to pay complainant Darren Lund $5,000 for “pain and suffering.” This is rather odd, considering Lund is not gay and his only “suffering” could have come from the time and effort of having made the complaint.

Boissoin has been left near penniless defending himself for having criticized the gay lobby in a letter to the editor. Hopefully, he will find a way to appeal this ludicrous decision; it deserves to be dealt with by a real court, with real judicial process.

Meanwhile, in Ontario, the provincial human rights tribunal ordered a child welfare organization, Christian Horizon, to get rid of its employee behaviour code after a gay employee objected to the code’s restrictions on homosexual sexual behaviour. In effect, the tribunal was telling a Christian organization that it can no longer operate on its own principles. This, too, cries out to be overturned by a real court.

All Canadians should be extremely worried by these decisions. One does not even have to agree with Boissoin’s view, or with the Christian Horizon code of conduct, to recognize that such an attack on their rights is an attack on all rights.

When the Supreme Court of Canada issued its opinion on the former Liberal government’s plans to legalize same-sex marriage, the judges acknowledged that there were going to be times like these. The justices recognized the potential clash of competing “rights”, but appeared to be little concerned. Such cases, they said, would work themselves out in due time.

Well, due time has arrived. And while we’re working out these little details, real people are having their constitutional freedoms to practise their religion and express their opinions completely erased. Real people are being pushed toward bankruptcy for defending their constitutional rights. Real people are having their reputations severely damaged, if not destroyed, by quasi-judicial tribunals that play prosecutor, judge and jury with seemingly zealous passion for taking on traditional religious beliefs.

Surely now our legislators will bring these tribunals to heel before they do any more damage. And there’s a lot more damage they could do.

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