Thursday, July 5, 2012

Human Rights Tribunal Trashes Reasonableness (Again)

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal recently abrogated centuries of legal jurisprudence. In a case before her, Tribunal Adjudicator Leslie Reaume, a lawyer, wrote in her judgement, "The question before me is not whether the [police] respondents acted reasonably in these difficult circumstances, but whether [the complainant's] race was a factor."

One of the definitions of "reasonable" in The Canadian Law Dictionary is: "That which is fit and appropriate to the end in view." That does not apply to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Toronto police were investigating a gun call. The suspect was a black male driving a black car, and likely armed. Yes, the suspect's skin colour was a factor as was the colour of his car. The police were not searching for a black man in a blue car or a white man in a black car. A police officer decided that the complainant's person and vehicle fit the general description of someone he spotted.

According to a newspaper report, the complainant was uncooperative in refusing to answer the officer's inquiries.and "the conversation escalated". In such a situation, reasonable police procedure would be draw their weapons, force an alleged suspect to his knees then put him in the cruiser. At that moment, the police radio reported the suspect had been spotted elsewhere. The complainant was released.

Human Rights Adjudicator Reaume speculated, "I do not believe that if the suspect had been a Caucasian man in the same circumstances, with no other defining characteristics, particularly age ...[that the officer] ... would have chosen to investigate the first Caucasian man he saw driving the same car at the same intersection." On the basis of this speculative non-belief of non-proof, she determined discrimination.

She said that the complainant has been "stereotyped as a person with some probability of being involved in a gun-related incident" because he was a black man. By what stretch of the imagination can reasonable suspicion be deemed stereotyping?

The bizarre language of her judgement continues, "It is consistent with a finding of racial profiling that all black men, or all black men of a certain age, driving along in the area in a black car were possible suspects at the moment [the Police officer] decided to commence his investigation of [the complainant]."

Yes, the police investigate all situations matching a certain description.

For having acted reasonably, officer and Police Department were ordered to pay the complainant $40,000 in damages.  In the usual gobbledegook of this feel-good tribunal, she described the event as "harrowing" and injurious "to dignity, feelings, and self-respect". That hoary language is right out of the utopian playbook and is used to justify pre-determined decisions, and without a whiff of due process. One wonders if Adjudicator Reaume considers it "harrowing" for an individual police officer to approach a possibly armed man.

How do these people come up with such awards? Had the suspect been a Caucasian in a white car, and someone fitting that description was similarly investigated, would lawyer Reaume endorse a payout of $40,000? Would there be any payout at all?

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal merits its public perception as a cash cow for the easily offended.

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal contorts logic in it worship of political correctness. When referring to the complainant's race, the Tribunal's news release capitalized the word Black, yet not in the judgement.

A copy of this post was sent to the drafter of said news release, Afroze Edwards, OHRC Senior Communications Officer (

On July 20, 2012, I received a letter from Paul Richards, Correspondence Coordinator, Communications & Issues Management. (Yes, that's his title.) His verbatim reply: "Thank you for your interest in the work of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC); the OHRC was involved in the case and support the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal. Thank you for contacting the OHRC."

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