Friday, August 17, 2007

Steyn gets it wrong

Babble on.

I was involved in a comments-section argument over at John Donovan's place, regarding a Mark Steyn post at The Corner:

Canada's ghastly human rights commissions are an an ersatz-judicial abomination to enforce PC bullying. In recent years, they've ordered a Catholic school in Alberta to employ a practising homosexual, fined a Christian printer in Toronto for refusing to print a gay activist group's publicity material, used their powers to support the suspension without pay of a evangelical Christian school teacher who had written to his local paper expressing concern over pro-gay education programs. In all case, the human rights commissions operated on the more or less consistent principle that "religious belief" was fine as long as you kept it furtive and walled up inside your private home but it did not have the right to impact on who you employed, what clients you accepted*, or even what views you expressed in the newspaper.

Apparently, it's different for Islam.

Steyn may well be right, but the case he's chosen to highlight doesn't make his point.

Why? Because it was a settlement, not a ruling. That's right: the B.C. Human Rights Commission didn't rule on the case, the parties involved settled it before the tribunal could hear the arguments.

The tribunal was to hear Mr. Gilmour's case on Monday; however, a settlement was reached last week with Mr. Saidy and his taxi company. "The parties have agreed ? to resolve Mr. Gilmour's complaint by balancing the rights of persons with seeing-eye dogs to obtain taxi service with the rights of Muslims to follow their religion," the settlement reads.

If you don't like the way this particular human rights complaint worked out, don't blame the Commission, blame the parties who agreed to the settlement.

My thanks to the confusing, but entertaining Alan of Gen X at 40 for pointing that out to me...eventually...after making me dig through his convoluted rhetoric at length.

Babble off.

Update: Blazing Cat Fur seems to want to twist the discussion around without proper deference to the realities of this particular case.

Scrolling through BCF's comments to his own post, you'll discover a gross misrepresentation of the case and its scope. It was a settlement, not a decision, and so set no legal precedent. It is binding upon no-one but the parties to the agreement, and restricts no other person's right to file a discrimination complaint.

I have that perspective separately from two different Canadian lawyer friends.

That is to say, if another blind patron is refused service by a Muslim driver because of a guide-dog, the blind patron can file a discrimination complaint with the BCHRC - even if the driver abides by the rules laid out in the Gilmour settlement by ordering another cab and waiting with the blind patron until that other cab arrives. This settlement doesn't restrict any future complaint in the slightest, or reliably predict its outcome.

I'd love to see the BCHRC forced to actually make a decision in a case like that, because I think this settlement stinks. I have little confidence the BCHRC would make the right decision.

But, unlike Steyn and BCF, I'm not willing to condemn the BCHRC for a decision they haven't yet made.

Don't worry about those long-term plans

Babble on.

It's in the Book of Revelations, if you know where to look: when I agree with something Rick Salutin wrote, the end is nigh. Can you hear the hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen?

Babble off.