November 7, 1999
Justice in this country took a double kick in the goolies over the last couple of weeks, courtesy of this county’s perverse human rights industry.
First came news of the federal governments’ capitulation after a 14-year-battle over wage compensation for 200,000, mostly female, civil servants. After a setback in the Federal Court of Appeal, it agreed to fork over $3.6 billion—$2.3 billion more than it should have had to pay.
Second, as I wrote last week, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal found UBC professor Donald Dutton guilty of sexual harassment, even though tribunal chairwoman Frances Gordon admitted that she could find no evidence of harassment, and that the complainant, Fariba Mahmoodi, was wholly without credibility, and herself guilty of harassment against Dutton and other professors.
Though these events are odious, they may be just what this country needs. Because they do such violence to justice and reason, these cases are causing a long overdue light to shine on the specious foundations of “human rights,” which is little more than Orwellian doublespeak for feminist activism.
In the first case, the federal government is considering legislation to prevent further human rights assaults on the treasury. The aim is to make matters of pay a labour matter, not a human rights issue. That legislation is needed to affirm something so obvious says much about how the government mismanaged this affair.
Early on, the government blundered by agreeing to be bound by a human rights tribunal ruling on the matter, even though the question of payment for civil servants has zip to due with “human rights.” This is purely a matter between a group of employees and the employer, and last I checked, the union negotiates on behalf of the employees. But as soon as the government put its foot in its mouth, the Public Service Alliance of Canada exploited the opening. It knew that the women could milk the tribunal for a substantial settlement, so it let the government and the tribunal duke it out.
The bone of contention was how to define equal pay. The government took the reasonable line of equal pay for the same job. The tribunal bought into the subjective claptrap of “equal pay for work of equal value,” as if the tribunal has the divine power to ordain how many apples equal how many oranges.
What federal justice Francis Muldoon said in the Bell Canada “pay equity” case still holds: the Tribunal is too biased to be able to render a fair decision. If the government hadn’t been in such a hurry to toe the radical feminist party line, it could have saved itself and the country an expensive lesson in how not to conduct labour negotiations. At least, it has seen the error and won’t repeat it.
Finally, a word to all you sanctimonious, braying feminists who feel the need to hector critics of the decision: it is not a victory for women; it’s a defeat for the country. “Equal pay for work of equal value,” is a nonsense and has no place in any civil rights legislation. Even Article 23 (2) of the UN Declaration of Human Rights doesn’t recognize it.
Let’s see what happens when we reword it the way Karl Marx might have said it: “From each according to her work to each according to her value.” There—doesn’t it sound like a great idea?
In the Dutton case, the sheer incompetence of Frances Gordon’s decision, may be enough to convince politicians that something has to be done to address the institutional biases that permeate the human rights apparat.
Since the Liberals are virtually guaranteed to win the next election—likely to be called next year after the NDP selects a sacrificial leader—the odds look good. Liberal justice critic Geoff Plant says the structure of tribunals needs to be reformed, as do the rules of evidence.
“The process is dangerously and unfairly slow and inefficient,” he said. “Neither of the parties [in the Dutton case] should have had to wait 17 months. We need better tools to dismiss vexatious claims and to weed out those that are improperly brought.” Curiously, the Human Rights Commission knew all along that the charge against Dutton was bogus, yet it allowed it to proceed to Tribunal.
Also, Plant sees a need to improve the calibre of tribunal chairmen. “Those appointed tend to be advocates for expanding human rights legislation, rather than independent arbiters,” he said. This recommendation cuts to the heart of the corruption, and explains Gordon’s conduct perfectly. Moreover, since Chief Commissioner Mary Woo Sims is on record as advocating expanding legislation, one can safely assume she’ll be out of a job soon, as will other NDP-appointed hacks.
For all of his criticisms of the state of the B.C. human rights apparat, Plant thinks it only needs repairs, and shouldn’t be tossed out. Though I agree with Plant’s criticisms, I don’t agree with his conclusion. The apparat is irredeemably biased. Some respondents have been advised by their lawyers not to participate in hearings because of the inability to get a fair hearing. How can this be considered healthy?
Scrapping the politically driven apparat in favour of a return to civil court, would in many ways be cheaper, fairer and more effective:
• Complainants would not be able to use the threat of a tribunal to extort favourable treatment, as Mahmoodi did;
• Politically appointed functionaries would not indulge their ideological bias, as Gordon did;
• Judges are better trained and more impartial; and
• A public court would protect the rights of both parties, unlike tribunals, which function as modern-day Star Chambers, as Dutton (and others) have discovered.