What Was Said

Significant quotes from recent decisions.

"Offensive, irreverent and inappropriate language is taken to be the norm when you enter a comedy club. I will assume all of that to be so, and I accept that comedy clubs are places where performers push boundaries and sometimes try to generate outrage. It does not follow that comedy clubs are zones of absolute immunity from human rights legislation."

Human Rights Digest 14-5, July 2013

"The incidents that occurred during the applicant's term of employment and the termination of her employment were typical of many sexual harassment cases, and if that was all that had happened, the case would have fallen in the middle of the spectrum. What moved this case beyond the middle, in my view, were the individual respondent's subsequent stalker-like behaviour and its impact on the applicant. His behaviour not only had an impact on her mental and physical health, it also restricted her freedom of movement. I was particularly struck that she became so fearful (rationally so, in my view) that she was unable to go out at night without another person accompanying her."

Human Rights Digest 14-4, May / June 2013

"[I]t is difficult to have regard to family without giving thought to children in the family and the relationship between parents and children. The singular most important aspect of that relationship is the parents' care for children. It seems to me that if Parliament intended to exclude parental childcare obligations, it would have chosen language that clearly said so."

Human Rights Digest 14-3, April 2013

"Hate speech... rises beyond causing emotional distress to individual group members. It can have a societal impact. If a group of people are considered inferior, sub-human, or lawless, it is easier to justify denying the group and its members equal rights or status... As the majority becomes desensitized by the effects of hate speech, the concern is that some members of society will demonstrate their rejection of the vulnerable group through conduct. Hate speech lays the groundwork for later, broad attacks on vulnerable groups. These attacks can range from discrimination, to ostracism, segregation, deportation, violence and, in the most extreme cases, to genocide."

Human Rights Digest 14-2, February/March 2013

"In my view, the free speech of College [of Pharmacists] members on matters affecting the regulation of their profession falls within the scope of political belief, given the legislative framework under which the College operates and the express regulatory mandate given the College by the government regarding pharmacy technicians. This was a new legislated initiative, that involved the public welfare, and that was being debated within the pharmacy community."

Human Rights Digest 14-1, January 2013

"The preamble to the School Act… stated that "the purpose of the British Columbia school system is to enable all learners to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy, democratic and pluralistic society and a prosperous and sustainable economy". This declaration of purpose is an acknowledgment by the government that the reason all children are entitled to an education, is because a healthy democracy and economy require their educated contribution. Adequate special education, therefore, is not a dispensable luxury. For those with severe learning disabilities, it is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia."

Human Rights Digest 13-8, November / December 2012

"With full knowledge that Mr. Hughes was disabled by depression and that he had requested work that would accommodate his episodic depression, and scornful of their duties under the CHRA to continue his employment, at least until the full extent of his disability was determined, HRSDC's management wilfully disregarded their duty under the CHRA and summarily terminated Mr. Hughes' employment."

Human Rights Digest 13-7, October 2012

"The respondents would not have run afoul of the Code had they insisted on the applicant's attendance in all circumstances, except where absences were required because of eldercare. In my view, there is no evidence that accommodating only those absences that were required due to the applicant's eldercare responsibilities would have resulted in any undue hardship to the respondents. The violation of the Code arises because of the respondents' blanket insistence that no absences, except when attendance was required at a business meeting outside the office, were acceptable, and their failure to distinguish between Code-related and other absences."

Human Rights Digest 13-6, August / September 2012

"While the business was operated by individuals with sincere religious beliefs respecting same-sex couples, and out of a portion of their personal residence, it was still a commercial activity. It was the Molnars' personal and voluntary choice to start up a business in their personal residence. In this respect, the Molnars were not compelled by the state to act in a manner inconsistent with their personal religious views."

Human Rights Digest 13-5, July 2012

"[T]he requirement that Ontario birth certificates reflect the sex assigned at birth unless a person has and certifies to the respondent that he or she has had "transsexual surgery" is substantively discriminatory because it exacerbates the situation of transgendered persons as a historically disadvantaged group, and thus perpetuates their disadvantage. In the alternative, the requirement... is substantively discriminatory because it perpetuates stereotypes about transgendered persons and their need to have surgery in order to live in accordance with their gender identity, among other things."

Human Rights Digest 13-4, June 2012
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