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February 9, 2012
It can be easy to give the Pinto Human Rights Review your feedback on Ontario’s system for enforcing human rights. The Pinto Human Rights Code Review is going ahead with its public hearings next week. This is so even though we asked it to postpone these, so more people can learn about them and take part. The Pinto Review is seeking the public’s feedback on how well Ontario’s system for enforcing human rights is working.
We encourage everyone to attend the Pinto Review’s public hearings. You can still contact the Pinto Review now, despite their earlier deadline, to sign up. Even if you are not going to make a presentation yourself, it would be great if you can attend, to be supportive of others making presentations there. You can get a list of the dates, times and addresses for your community, and the sign-up contact information, at http://www.ontariohumanrightsreview.org/how-to-participate
To help you take part in these public hearings, or to send in your feedback in writing to the Pinto Review, we offer you the following in this update:
- We offer you practical and easy-to-use tips that will help you prepare your presentation.
- We encourage you to look at our February 9, 2012 Draft Brief to the Pinto Review. Feel free to borrow from it, and give us your feedback on it as well! You can download it in MS Word format by visiting: https://www.aodaalliance.org/docs/AODA-brief-to-Pinto-Human-Rights-Review.doc
- We point you to other resources for you to look at, if you wish, to help think about what you might want to tell the Pinto Review.
1. Points You Might Wish to Make to the Pinto Review
If you are going to make an oral presentation in person to the Pinto Human Rights Review’s public hearings over the next days, or if you are going to send in a written submission, we encourage you to consider these ideas of what to discuss:
- Let the Pinto Review know if you agree with the concerns with Ontario’s system for enforcing human rights that are set out in our draft brief, as well as our recommendations to improve this system. If you have other ideas, be sure to add them!
- Under the new system for enforcing human rights in Ontario, people who have been the victims of discrimination (human rights applicants) must investigate their own case, and prosecute their case before the Human Rights Tribunal. They must do this without the help of the Human Rights Commission.
Many people in this situation cannot get legal representation from the new Human Rights Legal Support Centre, because of its limited resources. In that case, a discrimination victim must either pay to hire their own lawyer, or try to present their own case to the Tribunal, or just give up and not bother filing a human rights application. The individual or organization they accused of discrimination (the respondent) often does hire a lawyer to defend themselves.
We have voiced serious concerns that it is unfair for any human rights applicants to have to take on the burden of representing themselves at a Human Rights Tribunal proceeding or mediation, without being represented by a lawyer.
Do you think you are able to effectively investigate your own human rights case, gather all the evidence you need, and prove it by calling witnesses and cross-examining the witnesses that the respondent calls, without being represented by a lawyer?
Do you think it is a fair fight at a hearing or mediation before the Human Rights Tribunal if you have no lawyer to present your evidence, research the law, and make legal arguments, but the respondent does have a lawyer to try to prove you wrong?
If you are not represented by a lawyer when you try to take your case to the Human Rights Tribunal, how well do you feel you can ensure that you comply with all the rules of procedure that the Tribunal has for human rights applications? Do you feel you can make sure that the respondent also fully complies with and obeys the Tribunal’s rules of procedure?
Those rules of procedure can be found at: http://www.hrto.ca/hrto/sites/default/files/Whats%20New/Section%2034%20Rules%20-%20ENGLISH%2026-05-10.pdf
* The Human Rights Legal Support Centre says that if you ask it to give you a lawyer to represent you at the Human Rights Tribunal, and even if it thinks your human rights case may have merit, it may refuse to represent you if it thinks you can represent yourself in your human rights case at the Tribunal. We have voiced the concern that the Centre should not be passing judgement on whether you are able to be your own lawyer at the Human Rights Tribunal, especially if you are not trained as a lawyer.
Do you feel that it is appropriate for the Human Rights Legal Support Centre to decide for you whether you need a lawyer to investigate and present evidence, cross-examine the respondent’s witnesses, and present legal argument to prove your human rights case?
* The Human Rights Legal Support Centre says that if you ask it to represent you at the Human Rights Tribunal, to present your human rights complaint or application, it generally doesn’t commit at the start to take your case all the way through the Tribunal process, right up to the end of a full hearing on your case at the Human Rights Tribunal. Instead, it may choose to agree at the start only to help you draft your formal application, and to represent you up to the end of the Tribunal’s mediation process. Only after the mediation might the Centre later decide whether it will continue to represent you at the Tribunal’s hearing on your case.
We have voiced the concern that discrimination victims may not want to get themselves caught up in a case before the Human Rights Tribunal if there is a real possibility that the Centre will leave them to fend for themselves, partway through the Tribunal’s process.
If you manage to get the Human Rights Legal Support Centre to agree to give you legal representation on your human rights case, do you think it is appropriate for the Human Rights Legal Support Centre not to agree at the outset to stick with you on your case, right through to the end of the hearing?
* The McGuinty Government promised in 2006 that the Human Rights Commission would be a strong voice for human rights, by launching its own human rights applications at the Human Rights Tribunal to combat systemic discrimination. Yet since 2008, when Bill 107 went into effect, the Human Rights Commission has only brought one such case, to force three public transit providers to announce all route stops for blind passengers. The Ontario Human Rights Commission now has no cases of its own before the Human Rights Tribunal.
We called on the Human Rights Commission, years ago, to devote far more of its resources to battling systemic discrimination by bringing far more Commission-initiated human rights applications.
Do you think the Human Rights Commission should be bringing more cases of its own to the Human Rights Tribunal, to combat systemic discrimination?
Do you think the Human Rights Commission should have an open process, for people to ask for the Human Rights Commission to bring its own systemic cases?
You can also look at the list of questions that the Pinto Review asks of you, set out in its Consultation Paper. It is available at http://www.ontariohumanrightsreview.org/consultation-paper
2. Resources to Help You Prepare for an Oral or Written Presentation to the Pinto Human Rights Code Review
Here are three great sources that will help you prepare. Feel free to borrow as much as you want from any or all of them!
1. As mentioned earlier, we have just released a Draft of our Brief to the Pinto Review. It is very detailed, and gives you everything you ever needed to know. Support for many of our points is even set out in detailed footnotes. Its introduction includes a short summary of our key points and key recommendations. At the end of the brief is an Appendix that lists all of our recommendations in one place.
If you don’t have time to read it all, feel free to just browse through it and use bits and pieces from it. Many people have used parts of our briefs in the past when making presentations to the Government’s public consultations and public hearings, if they agree with points that we make.
2. On February 9, 2009, we made a presentation on problems with Bill 107 after it had been in operation for eight months. We use parts of that presentation in our new draft brief. However, you can read or watch what we presented back then.
* Our February 9, 2009 presentation on Bill 107 to the Legislature’s Standing Committee on Government Agencies is available for you to read in text at: http://www.www.aodaalliance.org/ontario-human-rights/aoda-alliance-tells-legislatures-standing-committee-that-most-new-discrimination-claimants-at-the-human-rights-tribunal-have-no-lawyer-and-that-bill-107-just-shuffled-the-human-rights-caselo/
* You can watch a video of our February 9, 2009 presentation to the Legislature’s Standing Committee on Government Agencies on Youtube. Automated captioning is available if you want it. It is divided into three videos:
* You can read our February 6, 2009 brief to the Legislature’s Standing Committee at: http://www.www.aodaalliance.org/ontario-human-rights/aoda-alliances-brief-to-standing-committee-on-government-agencies-reveals-broken-government-commitments-on-reforms-to-human-rights-enforcement/
3. Earlier, on July 2, 2008, we took part in a Queen’s Park news conference to address important issues as Bill 107 went into operation. Bill 107 went into effect two days earlier, on June 30, 2008.
* You can watch the July 2, 2008 Queen’s Park news conference in which we participated, on Youtube, again, with automated captioning if you wish. Visit: http://youtu.be/j_C8iQIZhtA
* You can read the news release and other key documents used at that news conference by visiting: http://www.www.aodaalliance.org/ontario-human-rights/aoda-alliance-holds-joint-queens-park-news-conference-on-the-june-30-2008-launch-of-bill-107s-privatization-of-human-rights-enforcement-unveiling-list-of-the-mcguinty-governments-10-commitmen/