Ontario Human rights Reform - A call to Action

Raise Bill 107 in Feb 8 2007 Ontario By-Elections

January 26, 2006

SUMMARY

With the holidays now behind us, we're fully back in action! Here's our first update. Future updates will give you more information on the final days leading to the enactment of Bill 107, and next steps regarding consultation on the Bill's implementation.

Here is our first update for the new year. Three provincial by-elections have been called for February 8, 2007. These are in the southern Ontario ridings of Burlington, Markham, and York South-Weston. We encourage everyone in those ridings, and everyone who knows anyone in those ridings, to raise Bill 107 in these by-elections. For some tips on how to do this, check out our tip sheet from last September's Toronto area by-election. Visit:
http://www.aodaalliance.org/reform/update-083106.asp

For a handy 1-page leaflet that you can print up and distribute in those ridings, or at all-candidates' debates, or forward via email to friends, visit:
http://www.defendhumanrights.org/index.htm

Urge voters to take into account the need for strong public enforcement of human rights when they choose how to cast their votes.

The three political parties agreed that Ontario's backlogged, under-funded system for enforcing human rights was broken and needed to be fixed. However, the three parties disagreed on whether the controversial Bill 107 would make things better or worse. The three political parties' positions last year on Bill 107 are:

Liberals: The Liberals brought forward and used their majority to pass Bill 107. It took away the right of discrimination victims to a public investigation of their human rights complaints. It largely privatized human rights enforcement. It reneged on the McGuinty Government's understanding with Ontario's disability community, regarding effective enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It didn't fulfill the Government's commitment that it would guarantee free independent legal counsel to all human rights complainants.

The McGuinty Government promised that all who wanted would get a chance to make a presentation at public hearings before the Legislature on Bill 107. After these public hearings were advertised and scheduled, and some were held, the McGuinty Government used its majority to invoke "closure" via the McGuinty Muzzle Motion. It shut down the public hearings and denied many the opportunity to present that they were promised.

NDP and Conservatives: The NDP and Conservatives voted against Bill 107, because it was so flawed. They voted against the McGuinty Muzzle Motion, and urged the Government to hold full public consultations before introducing human rights reform legislation. At the request of various community groups, they each voiced concerns with Bill 107 that many in the community had voiced. They each proposed a series of amendments to protect Ontario's public human rights enforcement system. The McGuinty Government used its majority to defeat these amendments.