Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of May 31, 2011)


This commission must go


  By John Martin


It's time to once again set our sights on the country's human rights commissions. A few years ago this was one of the most controversial issues in the country. The Canadian Human Rights Commission, and its provincial counterparts, were under intense scrutiny for their reckless attempts to impose censorship and exhibiting a horrifying disregard for due process.

Created many decades ago to address discrimination toward those seeking employment or housing, these commissions soon found themselves with little work on their hands as there just didn't seem to be enough discrimination out there to keep thousands of politically correct bureaucrats and appointees busy.

So they started seeking out other witches. Magazine publishers, stand up comedians, website operators--soon none of us were free from the over-reaching clutches of the human rights industry.

But the tables turned and soon their activities and ludicrous rulings dominated the headlines. Parliament, the Privacy Commissioner and even the RCMP investigated them. Employees of these commissions have been accused of being members in several online hate groups and routinely posting racist messages to see what type of mischief they could rouse up. And then, of course, come to the rescue and bust the owner of the domain.

But as is usually the case, news items have a limited shelf life. The commissions briefly toned down their more outrageous buffoonery and even acquitted the occasional chap unfortunate enough to be hauled before one of these kangaroo courts.

Legislators, very weary of being branded "anti-human rights" were reluctant to force meaningful reform on these lawless social engineers.

The uproar soon subsided.

But the thugs who run these commissions may not be out of the woods yet.

Tim Hudak, leader of the Ontario Conservatives and possibly soon to be Premier, has pledged to reform the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall appears to be going ahead with his intention to enforce rules of evidence and proper procedure on that province's commission - a move that has the human rights bureaucrats screaming bloody murder.

But the best move would be for Stephen Harper's government to axe the Canadian Human Rights Commission altogether. It is a disgrace. At the least, the federal government should gut the legislation so the commission has limited authority. A good start would be to dramatically slash their budget so they would have trouble taking on the amount of frivolous cases they're accustomed to.

Consider this: every day we dismiss criminal charges, even of a serious nature, because we don't have enough judges, prosecutors and sheriffs to process the backlog of cases. Yet we spend millions and millions on these commissions so they can, among other things, prosecute a comedian who insulted an intoxicated heckler who repeatedly interrupted his show.

This federal government has never been shy about canceling funding to groups and organizations fond of spreading hate. It has already shown its commitment to human rights and its opponents would look hapless trying to accuse it of rolling back human rights by shutting down or gutting the commissions.

Just as they're willing to take some fallout for eliminating the gun registry and axing the political party subsidy, they should do the right thing and call it curtains on the country's human rights commissions.

Inquisitions and kangaroo courts have no place in this day and age.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at


Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2011