Thursday, February 2, 2012

Will no one rid us of these cash cows?

A Toronto Coffee Time shop owner, pestered by a customer who bad mouthed his product to other customers, called him a gypsy. The "offended" person complains. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT) in April 2010 ordered the shop owner to pay $15,000 to this nuisance who was undermining his business.

In a burst of righteous hyperbole the Toronto Star described this incident as "rampant racism." The "victim" must know someone at the Toronto Star. The newspaper featured him with a photograph in front of the "offending" shop.

In a real court, the complainant would have to prove damage. What if the owner had called him a Somali pirate? How much would that be worth? Or a German? Or an Englishman? Does the commission have a sliding scale of nationalities for this "rampant racism"?

Within a year or so, Coffee Time was no longer there. It is reasonable to speculate that the "guilty party" lacked the funds to appeal this ham-fisted judgement to a real court, or lacked the funds to pay this outrageous award, and that the Tribunal put him out of business.

The presumption in human rights legislation is that the victim is poor and helpless while the accused is wealthy and mean. Reality has yet to make an appearance at the OHRT.

The Quebec version of this rogue gravy train ordered the Mayor of Saguenay to pay a man $30,000 who claimed his freedom of conscience was violated by the city council opening its meetings with a short prayer. He demanded $150,000. This abuse of all things rational would be laughed out of a real court.

Were it not for the prospect of a pot of gold at the end of the human rights rainbow, these commissions would be out of business.

As if all this were not bad enough, comes news that the OHRT has expanded its reach by creating the crime of  "assumed discrimination". This does not pass the empire-building sniff test.

The reported example is the complaint by a former employee of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal that she is a victim of "assumed discrimination" because the City of Toronto demanded that she apply through regular municipal channels for an exemption to a parking by-law. The complainant preferred to go directly to her old friends on the Tribunal.

It's a foregone conclusion the Tribunal will declare the city guilty of discrimination, and order the exemption to the by-law, and the payment of a bag of money to their old pal.

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