Human Rights: Nearly 200 Cases Closed Following Mike Ward Judgment

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Human rights: close to 200 cases closed following the Mike Ward judgment

In a very divided decision, the Supreme Court of Canada had put an end, last year, to more than 10 years of legal saga and decided in favor of Mike Ward.

The Mike Ward case led to the closure of 194 files of discriminatory remarks by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ), its leaders revealed on Friday, presenting their activity report for the year 2021-2022.

The Supreme Court decision, which ruled in favor of the comedian, stated that the Commission had exceeded its jurisdiction by intervening in cases of discriminatory remarks, the highest court deciding that the protection against discrimination provided for in the Charter does not create not a right “not to be offended”.

It is very important to point out that 73% of these files concern […] racist remarks. For us, such remarks remain totally unacceptable, although we can no longer legally investigate several of these cases, declared the President of the Commission, Philippe-André Tessier, visibly disappointed with this new limit on the action of the organization.

It has human consequences for the victims of these remarks, to no longer have access to this recourse and we are sorry for that.

< p class="e-p">In the end, the CDPDJ received 2,290 inquiries during the year covered by the report and opened 548 inquiries, much less than the 839 the previous year.

< p class="e-p">The most frequently invoked grounds of discrimination have remained stable over the years, with disability still at the top with 38% of complaints having led to the opening of an investigation file, the majority of which relate to access to public transport and in public places. Racism (skin colour, ethnic or national origin) still ranks second with 27% of complaints mainly relating to the field of work, racial profiling and racist remarks.

This is followed, in lesser proportions, by complaints of discrimination based on age (8%), sex and social condition (4% of complaints in both cases).

Fr racial profiling, 69 cases were opened, a marked decrease from 86 in 2020-2021 and 76 in 2019-2020.

Commission officials would not comment on Quebec City's decision to appeal the recent Superior Court decision that ended random interceptions without cause, but the comments of its vice-president, Myrlande Pierre, leave little doubt that they would have preferred that this decision be allowed to take effect.

The judgment of the Superior Court, written by Judge Yergeau, really goes into the meaning of several key recommendations made by the Commission in the past. We think that indeed it was an additional lever to fight against the phenomenon of racial profiling, she said at a press conference in Quebec.

On the other hand, the Commission points out that it has other levers, in particular training on racism that it has already begun to give in various public bodies. In addition, specific training for police officers on racial profiling is being prepared following meetings with the senior staff of Quebec police forces in the fall of 2021, and the first phase of this training should be ready in 2023. .

Another area where the CDPDJ has been very active is that of protecting the rights of young people. The Commission had not failed to express its concern during the pandemic, noting a drop in requests for investigations affecting young people, which it attributed to the fact that children, confined, escaped the usual supervision of those around them outside home, especially teachers.

However, while the number of requests received in 2021-2022 (417 requests compared to 348 the previous year) almost returned to the level of 2019-2020 (427), the number of investigations opened was still in constant decline, from from 360 two years ago to 272 in 2020-2021, to reach 249 in fiscal 2021-2022.

It should be noted that we opened a record number of investigations on our own initiative, often after having been alerted by the media to situations of potential infringement of rights, indicated President Tessier.

One ​​of the areas of intervention of the Commission relates to the exploitation of the elderly. The organization has opened 36 investigation files out of the 205 requests received, but some cases are enough to make hair stand on end.

She reports having won a case where a mother had been isolated from her family by her daughter who dispossessed her of her home, abused her banking power of attorney and neglected her physically and psychologically. The Court sentenced her to pay $595,000 for material loss, $25,000 for moral damages and $5,000 for punitive damages.

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