redefinition amounts to McCarthyism
by Peter Menzies
APRIL, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision
reading in sexual orientation as banned grounds
for discrimination in Alberta's human rights
law, I wrote a column which retraced the fashion
by which homosexual rights were established in
The path began in 1985 when the Ontario human
rights commission, even though it had no right
in law to begin hearing cases based on sexual
orientation, began doing so anyway and was
upheld in its actions by a chain of court
decisions. Those, in turn, led to the Supreme
Court and Delwin Vriend versus Alberta.
In the wake of the Vriend decision, the
argument against judicial activism was
frequently dismissed as some form of homophobia.
That, of course, is the pseudo-psychiatric term
used to brand people who object to a political
agenda as mentally unbalanced--a tactic used to
great effect and with equally exuberant delight
in the good old U.S.S.R.
Still, as I stated, the discussion
surrounding homosexuality is quite beside the
point and, unless it involves rock stars in a
public lavatory or politicians seeking a little
rough trade in a public park, entirely too
tiresome. The point being made was that elected
officials, not judges and self-empowering human
rights tribunals, should be making laws and
that, given the opportunity, the same crowd of
self-titled illuminatae would soon add
discrimination on the basis of poverty (ie.
denying a welfare recipient an American Express
card) to the list.
Whether you think that good or bad, I wrote,
is irrelevant: it will happen.
So, who's a clever boy, then? According to
the Ottawa Citizen, an Ontario human rights
board of inquiry has ruled, through the
Orwellian dictate of "constructive
discrimination" that, "landlords who check
tenants' incomes before deciding whether to rent
to them are guilty of discrimination--against
blacks, women, youth and others...even if the
landlord doesn't give a fig...about anything
besides whether he or she is able to pay for the
"Constructive discrimination" occurs if a
builder decides his workers should be able to
carry a 200 lb. load. Because fewer women are
likely to meet that requirement than men, the
employer has "constructively discriminated"
against women. Such discrimination can be
defended, however, if the ability to carry 200
lb. on one's shoulders--as might be the case
with firefighters--is a reasonable requirement
of the job.
However, according to kangaroo courts
everywhere and most human rights laws in this
country, the burden is on the accused to prove
his or her innocence: a company is deemed to
have indulged in "constructive discrimination"
unless it can prove otherwise.
This, according to the Ottawa Citizen is how
that concept has now been expanded in Ontario
which, if history is anything to go by, sets the
trend for the nation in these matters:
"The claims against the landlords were nrough
by, among others, a black, immigrant single
mother on welfare and a 17-year-old pregnant
woman. They claimed discrimination on the basis
of race, nationality, sex, receipt of public
assistance, family status and so on. The board
then decided that because immigrants, women,
blacks and welfare-recipients had lower incomes
than average, any use of income-testing by
landlords would disproportionately affect them.
So income-testing by landlords is 'constructive
In other words, it doesn't really matter if
the landlord is Mahatma Gandhi and the
prospective tenant is, say, a middle-aged white
man like me, if the Mahatma applies an income
test to me, he is assumed to be actively
discriminating against blacks, women, immigrants
and welfare recipients by doing so.
It is up to him to hire a lawyer, have his
name dragged through the papers as if he were
some sort of get-to-the-back-of-the-bus-boy
bigot and, prove, like the witches of Salem, his
innocence. In the Ontario case, the human rights
board ruled the landlords could not prove that
their method of testing incomes to detect
tenants likely not to pay their rent on time was
reasonable. As the Ottawa Citzen put it,
"according to the board, there isn't any
evidence that this testing is useful."
Thus are landlords, none of whom may ever
have had a racist, sexist or anti-immigrant
thought in their lives, ruled guilty of
discrimination and branded as bigots by a
quasi-judicial, unaccountable state agency all
to happy to probe and expansively legislate the
conduct of their private business
Something, as they say in the trade, has gone
terribly wrong. This is the McCartyism of the