Ruling opens door for human rights complaints

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: flickr/Douglas Sprott

The Divisional Court of Ontario has upheld a ruling that lets complaints heard by professional bodies like the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) or College of Physicians and Surgeons be brought to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT) as well. 

Until 2013, It was not clear whether discrimination complaints against a professional body could be taken to the OHRT as well. 

However, on May 27 the Ontario Divisional Court upheld an earlier ruling that a complainant can do both.   

The decision came after the court heard the cases of Dean De Lottinville and K.M. vs. Kodama together. De Lottinville, a Black man, alleged police in Elliot Lake discriminated against him in 2009. K.M., a transgender man, alleged he was subject to discriminatory treatment by his doctor. 

Bruce Best, a lawyer with the Human Rights Legal Support centre, said the cases were combined in the divisional court to tackle the question of whether a decision by a professional governing body could preclude a human rights application.

Before this ruling, alleged victims of racial profiling by police would have to choose whether to file a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director or put in an application with the Human Rights Tribunal.

"The human rights tribunal was saying the question of whether or not this person is being discriminated against has already been decided in the police complaints process," said Best. "[They couldn’t] get a different answer at the human rights tribunal."

Best said that although complaints are filed with the OIPRD, an independent entity, police conduct the investigations themselves. 

"Not surprisingly, the general outcome was 'we did nothing wrong,'" Best said.

Best explained that, because there were so many cases of racial profiling coming to the tribunal, they heard a lead case in 2012 to answer the question of whether a police complaint would preclude a human rights application.

In 2013, the decision came out, with the tribunal deciding that they could hear a case after a police review board hearing. 

"[They said] whatever happened in the police complaint process should not affect the right of someone to file a human rights case as well for personal remedy or to bring around systemic change," said Best

The Ontario Provincial Police challenged the tribunal's decision, but on May 27 the Ontario Divisional Court upheld it.

Best said he is pleased that this procedural hurdle has been removed.

"It maintains pressure on the police for accountability in terms of their actions, particularly in the case of discriminatory actions," he said.

Although the decision deals with the OHRT, Best believes other courts can use the decision as precedent.

"The principles that are addressed can certainly apply more broadly and be applied in other provinces as well," Best said.

Megan Devlin is rabble's news intern for 2015. She hails from Toronto, but she’s starting her Masters in Journalism in Vancouver. She got her start in journalism working at the Western Gazette where she was a news editor for volume 107 and online associate editor for volume 108.

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.