Yukon Pizzeria Accused of Discrimination

A Yukon pizzeria stands accused of discrimination. Tonny’s Pizza posed on its social media page on Facebook that is was looking for a new pizza chef. In response, a woman said they she was aware of the position opening and had applied for the job some time ago. The restaurant then said they specifically wanted a male for the position as it would be “less distraction for the other male employees”.

The restaurant has since apologized, but a local resident by the name of Blake Lepine felt an incident like this could not stand. In light of this belief, he took the matter to the Yukon Human Rights Commission. The spokeswoman for the commission, Heather MacFadgen has not commented about the event, as such things remain confidential until they go to the board of adjudication for a decision. However, current legislation requires that such complaints come from the person who believes they were discriminated against so it unclear whether or not Tonny’s Pizza will answer for its discrimination.

Original story can be found here.

UK’s New Anti-Terrorism Bills Criticized by Civil Rights Activists

The UK government has published the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill ahead of its first reading in the House of Commons, scheduled for today. It includes several measures that have civil rights activists concerned.

Among them is the ability to temporarily exclude British citizens from returning home if they have been suspected of engaging in terrorists activities outside of the UK. This could leave some UK nationals stateless while overseas.

Another concern regards forcing internet providers to retain more identifying data to provide to the government for anti-terrorism purposes.

Other issues involve the ability to cancel passports at the border for up to 30 days, a ban on insuring ransoms, requiring more data from airlines, mandating anti-radicalization measures from educational institutions, and greater control on the domestic movements of suspected terrorists.

David Anderson, QC, the independent review of terrorism legislation (and appointed by the government), voiced his concern over the bill.

“The concern I have about this power and the central concern about it is: where are the courts in all of this? …One could look at it in terms of young, possibly vulnerable people caught up with the wrong crowd in Syria – didn’t really know exactly what they were doing… Do you want to throw the book at them straight away in terms of arrest and charge? Or is there something to be said, even though you do suspect them of having fought, of keeping them under a very light regime where they might have to report daily to a police station? They might have to notify [of] their residence; they might have to go along to meetings with probation or with some similar which perhaps might be for some people be a more sensible way of dealing with them than putting them straight into the criminal justice process.”

For more details of the bill and its specific concerns, see here.

Les jugements autochtones en Colombie et la protection des minorités : Les Colombiens ont-ils oublié les droits des accusés?

Il y a trois semaines, des autochtones colombiens ont jugé et condamné des partisans des Forces armées révolutionnaires de Colombie accusés de meurtre de deux membres de la tribu nasa. À travers le vote direct de la population locale, ils ont appliqué des peines d’emprisonnement entre 40 et 60 ans, ainsi que des châtiments corporels. Les condamnés ont été envoyés à des prisons subordonnées à l’Association des peuples autochtones de la région de Cauca.
Au sein de la population, ces jugements ne font pas l’unanimité. Pour certains, les risques d’abus sont présents, surtout dans l’application de corrections physiques telles que des coups de fouet. Pour d’autres, il faut qu’on respecte les traditions et la pluralité ethnique de Colombie. La question est importante et réclame l’analyse de la protection des minorités et les limites qui s’y appliquent.
Effectivement, la démocratie n’est pas simplement la loi de la majorité, mais également la protection de la minorité. Dans un appartement où il y a trois juifs et un musulman, les premiers ne peuvent décider de défenestrer le dernier sous l’argument d’être plus nombreux, puisqu’ il est nécessaire de respecter les droits de ceux qui sont en plus petit nombre. Toutefois, en protégeant les minorités, on ne peut violer les droits fondamentaux de qui que ce soit.
Ainsi, quant aux tribunaux autochtones colombiens, même qu’ils existent dans le cadre de conserver les traditions précolombiennes, il faut toujours observer le due process of law, qui signifie que les accusés ont droit à un jugement équitable, incluant la séparation entre l’accusation et le juge, la présence d’un avocat de défense et l’application des peines humaines. Le principe de la proportionnalité est également applicable en tant qu’outil d’interprétation des valeurs en collision.
Bien que la Colombie ait avancé les dernières années dans le combat aux narcotrafiquants, il reste encore une partie substantielle de son territoire sous le contrôle de la guerilla. Il y a donc beaucoup de choses à faire et le chemin vers la paix ne passe pas par la violation aux droits fondamentaux.

Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/noticias/2014/11/141111_indios_colombia_fd

Op-Ed: The Real Blow to Judicial Integrity

I was dismayed to read yesterday that Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas chose to step down from her position. In doing so, she is “avoiding a hearing on whether she should be kicked off the bench over nude photos of her that appeared on the internet” in 2003. These photographs did not just appear; they were placed on the Internet by her then-husband without her knowledge or consent. Douglas was the victim of a sex crime. The fact that the Canadian Judicial Council subjected Douglas to a formal inquiry over these photos is akin to forcing a woman to stand trial to find whether or not she is guilty of having been raped. They both suggest that, if a woman is the victim of a grotesque sexual injustice, she is liable to be punished for it. It does not matter that Douglas is the Associate Chief Justice of Manitoba; Lori Douglas is the victim of a sex crime. Canadian Judicial Council’s independent counsel, Suzanne Cote, has noted that judges are not considered normal citizens. Does that extend to being sexually assaulted, I wonder? Cote declares that the standard to which judges must adhere is “exceptionally burdensome”. Does that make you therefore liable for the unlawful conduct of others?

According to the CBC, “Douglas faced allegations that she failed to disclose the photos when she applied to become a judge in 2004 and that the pictures could undermine public confidence in the justice system”. What exactly, I beg, was Douglas meant to disclose when she applied to be a judge? The fact that she and her spouse engaged in sexual activity? The fact that there might be some photographic evidence depicting this entirely innocuous behaviour? The fact that her husband was, unbeknownst to her, capable of committing a sex crime? Firstly, married adult couples frequently engage in sexual behaviour, and I can hardly imagine how this might have the power to undermine the public’s confidence in the judiciary. Secondly, taking explicit photographs is a practice in which many, if not most, couples now engage in this digital era. This is especially true of couples that may not have the luxury of spending great amounts of time together, such as pairings in which one or both partners have demanding careers or live in different places. Lastly, implying that it was Douglas’ responsibility to disclose the existence of personal photos of this nature is a gross violation of her right to privacy and quite inappropriate.

Cote has said that the issue here was not whether Douglas can decide cases impartially “but whether the public believes she can.” Here’s a news flash: the public would have completely forgotten about this issue in a matter of days had it not been for this “panel”. What really undermines the public’s confidence in the judiciary is watching the Canadian Judicial Council trying a woman’s guilt for a sex crime committed against her and making it impossible for her to fulfill the demands of a position to which she was rightfully appointed. To think that the “public” will question her authority or the integrity of the justice system over some leaked nudes shows a grave lack of respect for the integrity and intelligence of the members of the public. Further, holding a a judge to such an antiquated notion of “integrity”, as necessarily including “modesty” or “chastity”, makes a mockery of the justice system and shames all of Canada.


University of Saskatchewan Drafting Sexual Assault Policy

The University of Saskatchewan Board of Governors is contemplating drafting a comprehensive procedure on how to deal with reports of sexual assaults. Currently, the University of Saskatchewan has a policy to deal with non-academic misconduct, but currently does not have any policy specifically pertaining to sexual assault.

This recent move stems from a report in the Toronto Star last week of a young woman attending the U of S was sexually assaulted back in 2011. When these allegations were brought to the attention of the university’s administration, they stated they had no power to initiate an investigation without a finding of criminal liability.

As reported by the Toronto Star during a 3 month investigation this appears to be an epidemic across Canadian campuses. Indeed, as reported by the Toronto Star, out of 78 Canadian universities only 9 have special policies in dealing with sexual assault. By having a dedicated policy to deal with sexual assault, complainants need not deal with the inefficiencies of a large university bureaucracy

Projet de loi controversé sur la laïcité de l’État reporté

Philippe Couillard reporte le dépôt de son projet de loi sur la neutralité religieuse de l’État. Le premier ministre dit craindre l’aliénation de la communauté musulmane québécoise suite à la fusillade au parlement d’Ottawa et à l’attentat à Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu survenus le mois dernier.

«Dans le contexte actuel, avec les évènements tragiques des dernières semaines, qui ont meurtri une communauté de Québécois, qui se sont sentis interpellés et stigmatisés à travers ces malheureux évènements alors qu’ils n’ont aucune responsabilité pour la vaste majorité d’entre eux pour ce qui s’est produit, il est préférable de ne pas ajouter à cela pour l’instant», a déclaré Couillard mercredi à l’Assemblée nationale.

Read the rest of this entry »

More Mandatory Minimums Ahead

The latest development in the Conservative “Touch on Crime” approach is the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act. Bill C-26 had it’s second reading in the House as of November 20th 2014.

Read the rest of this entry »

Prince Albert Team introduces “Arab” Mascot

Last Friday the Prince Albert Raiders introduced a new mascot, the CBC reports. “Boston Raider” is a bearded, moustached, cartoon Arab man wearing a keffiyeh. The mascot is based on the team’s logo during the 1980s and ’90s. Amber Pratt, a Raiders spokesperson, told the Canadian Press that the mascot was “a positive symbol of Raider history” and added that fans had responded positively. “The version we brought to life is happy, with a big smile on his face. He wears hockey pants, and a hockey jersey,” Pratt explained.

Opinions are divided on the mascot. Erica Lee, who was instrumental in lobbying Bedford Road Collegiate, in Saskatoon, to retire its culturally insensitive “Redmen” name and logo last year, told the Star Phoenix: “[i]t’s strange that a team would revive a racist mascot, especially given the prominence that the native mascot issue has received in the media lately. People of Middle Eastern descent and Muslims are still portrayed in the Canadian media as violent, as terrorists, and these mascots only further that ignorance.”

Last year, the Moose Jaw Warriors,  another Western Hockey League team, also re-introduced a new logo: a bare-chest Aboriginal man wearing a single feather on his head, holding a hockey stick and a hatchet. While Balfour Collegiate, a Regina school, opted to drop its “Redmen” nickname shortly after Bedford Road did, many professional sports teams, including the NFL’s Washington Redskins have continued to resist demands for change.

On November 22nd, the team announced that the mascot would not appear at home games “until further notice.”

Supreme Court to Hear Case Regarding Métis and Non-Status Indians

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal in the case Harry Daniels v Canada (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development). The court will be asked to consider whether Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” for the purposes of the Constitution, and whether they are owed a fiduciary duty and have the right to be consulted by the Canadian government.

The case was initiated by the Congress of Aboriginal peoples, Métis leader Harry Daniels and several others in 1999. The Federal Court ruled in their favour, and on appeal the court partially upheld that ruling, finding that Métis are Indians for the purposes of the Constitution, but non-status Indians would be subject to a case-by-case determination.

In a comment on the importance of this case, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Betty Ann Lavallee stated that “[s]elf-determination is fundamental to the exercise of the aboriginal rights recognized in section 35 of Canada’s Constitution. CAP wholeheartedly supports that right and is working toward its recognition on behalf of all Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.”


No deal between government and Nova Scotia health-care unions

Mediation talks between the province and Nova Scotia’s four health-care unions ended without settlement this week.

The province and the unions had been in talks – led by mediator James Dorsey – for 45 days.

The four unions had proposed that collective bargaining take place through a bargaining council model where multi-union bargaining associations would coordinate to negotiate the four contracts with the province.  The province rejected this proposal.

The unions say it is the flawed bill which triggered the talks that is at the root of the problem.

As CUPE Acute Care Co-ordinator Wayne Thomas explained: “The way this bill is structured meant that the employer had zero reason to come up with a mediated settlement, since they weren’t vulnerable in any way.”  Thomas continued: “Thanks to this bill, HANS (Health Care Associations of Nova Scotia) knew they could simply sit back and wait for the arbitration phase, where the Act spells out in detail what will happen, with the unions having no say in the matter.”

Unifor’s Atlantic Director Lana Payne in a press release echoed this concern: “We find ourselves in a situation created by a government bent on not only undermining unions, but also the stability and quality of the public health-care system on which Nova Scotians rely,” said Unifor’s Atlantic Director Lana Payne in a press release.

The dispute between the parties will now be resolved by arbitration.  A decision in expected at the start of the new year.

For more on this story, click here.


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