June 2, 1977

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT


The House resumed, from Tuesday, May 31, consideration of Bill C-25, to extend the present laws in Canada that proscribe discrimination and that protect the privacy of individuals, as reported (with amendments) from the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs; and the amendment thereto of Mr. Woolliams.


PC

Robert Jardine McCleave

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Robert McCleave (Halifax-East Hants):

Mr. Speaker, I had about two minutes in which to start my speech the other night. Perhaps 1 could set the scene again this morning for those who might be unfamiliar with the issue raised by my friend, the hon. member for Calgary North (Mr. Woolliams). We are dealing with Bill C-25, an act to extend the present laws in Canada that proscribe discrimination and that protect the privacy of individuals. Most of us, however, call it-as indeed it calls itself in clause 1-the Canadian human rights act.

The measure before us presents a procedure for people who feel themselves aggrieved under a variety of circumstances. These are set forth in a series called "discriminatory practices" in clauses 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. Then there are exceptions not considered to be discriminatory practices which follow. If one has a complaint under the human rights act, one can take it before the commission and an investigation may be launched. The official may say that the complaint will be taken up elswhere, that there is another act of parliament which offers a remedy. I presume, since we deal with dominion-provincial niceties and things like this, the commission might direct the person to take his complaint before a provincial ombudsman because that is where any remedy, if possible, lies.

There is a procedure for conciliation. The result of that conciliation may, by clause 38, be referred to the commission for its approval. All that failing, the person aggrieved can march on to the human rights tribunal. Its powers are set forth in clause 40 of the measure before us. It is possible to go to the Federal Court to make the finding of that human rights tribunal an enforcement. In effect, the Minister of Justice and the government are saying that while the human rights tribunal can adjudicate and make a decision, the power of

enforcement must be found somewhere else. They place that power in the Federal Court.

If I can complete the reference to the Federal Court as specifically set out in the measure before us, in clause 44 there are other rules set out for the court. However, the act goes no further than that and a person who is aggrieved by the finding of a human rights tribunal must ask himself where he can go from there. In the Federal Court Act is section 28 which provides the right of appeal from administrative decisions to the Federal Court in certain circumstances. It is on section 28 that the Minister of Justice (Mr. Basford) relied when he turned down the motion we are now debating. On the other hand, the Minister of Justice has to admit, as he did the other night, that there are some sections of the Federal Court Act which give rise to difficulty, that a study is being made, and so on. So it is possible we shall be faced with an amendment some time in the future to clear up imperfections in that act.

[DOT] (mo)

I have no quarrel with that, but I must quarrel with the contention of the Minister of Justice when he says the Federal Court Act will give an aggrieved person protection. If section 28 is doubtful at all-and I gather it is-then surely somebody who has a complaint about a human rights decision should not be placed in the position of having to spend a pile of money going through all the procedures, including a hearing before the tribunal, and then having to wonder whether, going one step further, section 28 really fits the purpose. This is why I support the proposition put forward by the hon. member for Calgary North. At least the motion before us does one thing. It gives a clear right, a positive right, and no one will find himself engaged in legal foofaraw in the courts to the extent of that right.

If we can send out of parliament a procedure which people can follow, which is easy to understand, which does not get people involved in the dreadful labyrinth of argument as to what exactly the legislation means, I say by all means do so. There is a virtue in having a clear right set forth, one which can be clearly understood by people who become enmeshed in the law. But if the minister still has any doubt about section 28, let him bring in his remedy at a future time and then repeal what is proposed by the hon. member for Calgary North. To my mind, it is as simple as that. We passed a motion presented by the hon. member for Calgary North as a good solution, one which makes sense, one which can be followed. If the Minister of Justice finds that section 28 does not serve the interests of people who have been confounded by the decisions of administrative tribunals, he can come along

June 2, 1977

Canadian Human Rights

with his own remedy and what the hon. member has done on a short-term basis can be reviewed on a long-term basis.

My feeling is that we must decide in favour of something that is exact and which will work, and that we are bound to reject the thoughts of the Minister of Justice, "Section 28 may be good or it may be bad, so we shall study it and perhaps do something about it later." If that is the way we run this country, God help any members of parliament who have anything to do with sanctioning such an approach.

My final point has been expressed so eloquently by my hon. friend from Annapolis Valley (Mr. Nowlan) that I simply want to go on record as endorsing his position. If we can set up a procedure which follows a doctrine of consistency, that should be done. We have a long-established tradition in the courts of Canada whereby judges are bound by what other judges have decided. I should like to see this doctrine of consistency embedded here through the provision of the right to appeal through the Federal Court. Our judges operate from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, and from Pelee Island to the Arctic pole. They are bound by standards of consistency. Tribunals, it seems to me, are not likely to achieve such standards within a reasonable period of time. Consistency is a virtue in the law, anyway.

The minister should accept the very practical suggestion put forward by the hon. member for Calgary North. The Minister of Justice has always struck me as being a very practical person. I do not know why he feels called upon to dig in his heels about a suggestion like this, one which has the hallmark of common sense. No one can point to any awful reason why it ought not to be accepted. It makes sense. Mr. Speaker, I have made my pitch in the best way 1 know, and 1 hope the minister will accept it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Andrew Brewin (Greenwood):

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I was not able to be in parliament when the earlier part of the debate took place. I understand that the hon. member of Calgary North (Mr. Woolliams) made an eloquent and impassioned plea for the amendment which is now before us. Notwithstanding this, I cannot agree to the amendment. The purpose of the amendment, apparently, is to give the right of appeal to the Federal Court from any order, decision or review of a tribunal: I think both the tribunal and the review tribunal are included. The idea is that a review by a court somehow or other improves the situation; that going to court is the right way to deal with any administrative act. I have had quite a different experience. Certainly there are some matters that ought to be reviewed by the courts, but there are others which administrative tribunals are far better suited to deal with than are the courts themselves.

[DOT] (U20)

What I am afraid of, Mr. Speaker-and this has been found to be so-is that some lawyers have been protesting over the years that the courts should have a monopoly on dealing with these matters, yet in practice it has not been found to be the best way of securing the justice which parliament is seeking to enact in this type of legislation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
PC

Eldon Mattison Woolliams

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Woolliams:

A typical socialist statement.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brewin:

If that is a typical socialist statement, then yours is a typical reactionary attitude, so we are even on that particular point.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
PC

Eldon Mattison Woolliams

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Woolliams:

I am not asking for the court; I am asking for an appeal from the tribunal.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brewin:

I know you are, and I will outline what 1 think is the trouble with an appeal. First of all, it would cause expense, and this matters to some people who are being discriminated against. A person cannot go to the Federal Court without considerable expense. Second, it would cause delay. There is nothing that some employers, or others who have indulged in acts of discrimination, would rather have than be able to delay matters by lengthy proceedings. The Federal Court is already overburdened with work. Apart from the theoretical result of passing this amendment, the practical result would be to delay and to add to expense. Indeed, it would help frustrate the purposes of the act, some of which are not only that justice be done, but that it be done with expedition.

Although I was not here at the time, I understand the Minister of Justice (Mr. Basford) has already called the attention of the House to the fact that in the Federal Court Act section 28 provides for review of cases where there has been a breach of national rights or excessive jurisdiction has been exercised. It seems to me that that is a perfectly adequate remedy, rather than setting up special individual rights of appeal.

It is because we want the legislation to be effective that we propose to vote against this amendment. We think it would frustrate and delay the healthy operation of the legislation. 1 do not think I need elaborate any further on our reasons. 1 dispute the proposition that courts are the only tribunals fit to consider matters of the kind encompassed within this bill. Practice has shown it to be the converse. The courts have their virtues, but they also have their failings, and sometimes their failings consist of lack of appreciation of the kinds of matters which are dealt with by this bill. General jurisdiction to review cases of injustice, or complete disregard for human rights, or breaches of jurisdiction, is something that should be preserved, but this particular right of appeal is unnecessary. I hope that the House will reject this amendment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
PC

Benno Friesen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Benno Friesen (Surrey-White Rock):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on behalf of this amendment. I think the right of appeal is imperative if we are to preserve human rights in this country. I have received a notice from a constituent of mine who works on behalf of diabetics in Canada. This is a fairly small group, though probably larger as a group than we realize, which is discriminated against more frequently than we know. It has just come to my attention that one government agency or corporation, the CNR, is in the vanguard of this kind of discrimination. I am recently in receipt of a letter from a young man, 20 years old, who has been working for the CNR for about three years. He decided to apply for a different

June 2, 1977

job within the corporation, and in the process of making application he naturally had to have a medical. The doctor in charge was a Dr. Rosetti, who made the following statement:

CNR will not hire diabetics for any position no matter how stable or unstable the person's diabetes may be.

Dr. Rosetti said he had never allowed a diabetic who had come through his office to be hired by the company. Other matters have come to my attention in connection with diabetics who have been discriminated against. I have mentioned in the House the matter of the Bank of Montreal. Soon after that incident I received a letter from another diabetic in Toronto who had on file a letter from another bank which had the same discriminatory hiring practices. We now have a government agency discriminating against diabetics.

The extent to which these companies go to discriminate against diabetics indicates the need for the kind of tribunal which the hon. member for Calgary North (Mr. Woolliams) is recommending ought to be included in the legislation. I, therefore, want to go on record as supporting this kind of amendment which would ensure protection of the rights of this minority group who are facing flagrant discrimination on the part of large corporations.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Is the House ready for the question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Question.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Yea.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

All those opposed will please say nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Call in the members.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I declare the motion lost.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink
LIB

Stanley Ronald Basford (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. Ron Basford (Minister of Justice) moved

that the bill be concurred in.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROTECT PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALS
Permalink

June 2, 1977