In March, 2005, Constable Michael Shaw was on patrol in the Bridle Path, an ultra-affluent Toronto neighbourhood he knew well. He was showing a female trainee the ropes. Down the street, he spotted an unfamiliar letter-carrier delivering the mail. He asked him for ID, ran his name through the computer, thanked him for his trouble and verified with a regular postie that the new guy was a fill-in. The letter-carrier was not insulted, detained or charged with any crime.If Constable Shaw broke the law - let him be tried in a criminal court, where truth is a defense and where the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If he violated the police officer's code of conduct - then he should be disciplined by his superior for something that he did, not just nailed for "unconscious racism" for something that might have happened.
Innocuous? Not to Ronald Phipps, the fill-in letter-carrier. He is black. The cop is white. Mr. Phipps decided he'd been a victim of racial profiling, and took his case to the Human Rights Tribunal. In a ruling last month, the adjudicator agreed.
The decision makes for scary reading, because it says someone can be found guilty just for making someone else feel bad. “There is no need to establish an intention or motivation to discriminate,” it says. “[T]he focus of the enquiry is on the effect of the respondent's action on the complainant.”
According to the tribunal, “unconscious” discrimination is no different from “conscious” discrimination. And the onus is on the accused to prove he's innocent. “Once a prima facie case of discrimination has been established, the burden shifts to the respondent to provide a rational explanation which is not discriminatory. ... The respondent must offer an explanation which is credible on all the evidence.”
Community policing is a big deal in Toronto these days. Its essence is getting to know the people in the neighbourhood. Mr. Phipps was a stranger there. But the adjudicator didn't buy Constable Shaw's rationale. A white cop had stopped an African-Canadian in an affluent neighbourhood, and “on a balance of probabilities,” that made the cop guilty of discrimination.
Once again, we witness those quasi-judiciary tribunals being first and foremost - irrelevant; the case could have been dealt with without their needless intervention. Once again, a "human rights" body is being used as a tool to settle the scores with someone who has merely hurt the complainer's feelings. And, as always, we witness those committees and tribunals with "human rights" in their name, becoming nothing but a threat to our human rights and to the rule of law in Canada.
"Human rights" committees must be abolished. Their records - publicly destroyed. Their rulings must be declared unenforceable. And all those who believe that one has broken the law by hurting their precious feelings, are welcome to have their dispute settled in the court of law; where both the plaintiff and the defendant are treated equally.