Friday, April 24, 2009

This Is Interesting ...

Okay, the Alberta Human Rights Commission has quite a few human rights complaints from transsexuals sitting on its desk now. Fair enough.

However, if the writer over at the UofC's Law School Faculty blog "ABlawg" is any indication, Blackett may have tipped his hand:

Lindsay Blackett (Minister of Culture and Community Spirit) is said to have made the following comment: “We have a slightly different process, and we have slightly different value systems and a way of thinking in Alberta, and since most of the people on our commission are from Alberta, they may look at it a little differently then Ontarians do.”

The post's author then goes on to speculate on the various ways that Blackett could attempt to interfere in the process of the AHRC:

For example, will members of the Human Rights and Citizenship Commission be fearful that their salaries will be in jeopardy if they permit these complaints to proceed to a hearing, given that remuneration for the chief commissioner and other members of the Commission are prescribed by the Minister (see s. 15(4) HRCMA))?

What does Blackett’s statement portend for the Alberta government’s current review of our human rights legislation, and the argument that discrimination on the basis of being transgendered should be included in proposed amendments to the HRCMA?

Second, Blackett’s comment suggests that there is a “different value system” and “way of thinking” in Alberta. This suggestion of some sort of monolithic Alberta value system runs contrary to the HRCMA itself, ...

Third, even if there is a relatively conservative mindset in this province compared to some others (like Ontario), this is precisely why we have human rights legislation. Individuals who belong to minority or disadvantaged groups, such as the transgendered (who, it must be said, are not themselves a monolithic group), require the protection of human rights legislation to ensure that they are not subjected to the tyranny of the majority. Again, the preamble of the HRCMA is instructive ...

If the author's speculations are true, then transsexuals in Alberta are going to be fighting a long, ugly battle with the government. (Repeat of Vriend, perhaps?)


Diane Gall said...


The idea that there should be any resistance to this HR complaint is akin to resistance to thinking there is some merit to rejecting an HR complaint that women should have the legal right to vote.

Every criterion of 'discrimination' under the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act has been met here; the only way out for the Commission is to somehow rule that withdrawing medically indicated and necessary procedures are reasonable and justifiable. Seeing as the amount of money saved will be spent in other care that is still covered and the vanishingly small expenditure in the first place, any decision by the HRC other than there has been a violation will indicate political pressure and the grounds of an interesting court case.

But, as you say, we are in for a long, hard process here. My question to the AB Cabinet is 'is it really worth the money to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada?'

MgS said...

If, as I have long suspected, the reasons for their hostility to GRS are anchored in religious conservatism, then they will argue that the money doesn't matter on that front.

The TheoCon doesn't have any compunction about spending huge amounts of taxpayer money on fighting a "moral issue".

Anonymous said...

Ontario MPP and PC leadership contender Russ Hillier is the only one who gets it right here. Human rights commissions should be abolished. Period.

MgS said...


I'm glad that you are so confident that your rights will never be infringed upon, that you will not have to suffer the kind of systemic discrimination that transsexuals face down every day of their lives. Count yourself lucky.

... and I trust that should you ever find yourself facing marginalization that you will just suck it up like you think every minority should.