Ontario Human rights Reform - A call to Action

Tips for Bill 107 Public Hearings

PRACTICAL TIPS ON HOW TO PREPARE AN ORAL OR WRITTEN SUBMISSION TO THE LEGISLATUREíS STANDING COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE POLICY REGARDING THE CONTROVERSIAL BILL 107
July 31, 2006

1. INTRODUCTION

Here are helpful tips for preparing your written and/or oral presentation on Bill 107 to the Legislature's Standing Committee on Justice Policy. Everyone's contribution to these hearings makes a real difference. We hope that these tips will be useful for presenters from the disability community and from any other individual or group interested in advancing the protection of human rights in Ontario.

We explain

2. HOW PUBLIC HEARINGS WORK

The Legislature has assigned the Standing Committee on Justice Policy the job of studying and holding public hearings on Bill 107, the controversial bill that would weaken the Human Rights Commission. The Standing Committee will hold public hearings in London, Thunder Bay and Ottawa between August 8 and 10, 2006. It will also hold public hearings in Toronto some time after September 25, 2006. Toronto dates have not yet been announced. It is expected that the Standing Committee will post the list of the presenters at the hearings on its website as these are finalized by the Standing Committee.

It is too late to sign up for the hearings outside Toronto. However, it is not too late to sign up for the Toronto hearings. See the contact information for signing up below, or visit:

http://dawn.thot.net/bill_107_june24-06.html

The hearings are open to the public. You can attend them even if you donít plan to make an oral presentation. Itís important for as many people as possible to attend the hearings, even if they donít make a presentation. This is to show that the public is interested in and concerned about the bill.

The Standing Committee will include MPPs from all three political parties. The governing Liberals have a majority of the seats on the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee will be chaired by a Liberal MPP. Even though certain MPPs are assigned to this Standing Committee, other MPPs may substitute for the regular members from time to time. For example, when the Standing Committee goes to a particular city, there may be MPPs from that city who substitute in at the hearings.

The opposition NDP and Conservative parties are on record as being very concerned about Bill 107 as weakening human rights protection in Ontario. Their MPPs can be expected at the hearings to raise these concerns. The Liberal Party is on record as supporting this bill. However, It is still possible to persuade Liberal MPPs as a group, or one at a time, that this bill has serious problems. That persuasion can occur during the formal hearings. It can also occur if you speak to MPPs informally, either during breaks or in the hallway.

At the hearings you may be given 20 or 30 minutes to present. You should check with the Standing Committee directly to find out whether you have been chosen to present, and how much time you are allocated. See the contact information below.

During your presentation, you can use all your allotted time to deliver your presentation, or you can leave some of your time for the MPPs to ask you questions. If time is left for questions, the MPPs divide this among the three parties.

Some presenters welcome MPPs' questions because it gives a chance for the presenter to clear up any areas of confusion. Others prefer to use their whole time to make their presentation, and not to leave any time for questions. This is because the MPPs' questions may be more in the nature of long speeches that end with a short question.

After the hearings are finished, at some future date in the fall, the Standing Committee will conduct Clause-by-Clause debate of the bill. This is where the Committee decides what amendments to make to the bill. Any of the three parties can propose amendments. Because the liberals have a majority of the seat son the Committee, they control which amendments are passed.

3. TIPS FOR BOTH ORAL AND WRITTEN PRESENTATIONS

Whether you are making an oral or written submission or both, consider these tips.

Moreover, after the bill finishes up in Standing Committee, the Government can decide to bring the bill back before the legislature for a debate and vote on third Reading. That is the final vote needed for it to pass into law. If there is enough opposition to a bill at public hearings, the Government may instead decide not to bring the bill back before the Legislature for Third Reading. It may instead decide to go back to the drawing board. By doing this the Government could come up with a more appropriate way to improve Ontarioís human rights system than the flawed Bill 107.

You should decide what you ultimately want to achieve by your presentation before you get wrapped up in the details.

4. Additional tips for oral presentations:

5. TIP FOR ORGANIZATIONS MAKING AN ORAL PRESENTATION

6. ADDITIONAL TIP FOR INDIVIDUALS MAKING ORAL PRESENTATIONS

If youíre doing a presentation as an individual, don't feel that your message will have less force than presentations made by organizations. Some of the most powerful and memorable presentations are made by individuals speaking for themselves. If youíre speaking as an individual, remind the MPPs that you are symbolic of many thousands and thousands of other voters in their ridings.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR YOUR WRITTEN SUBMISSION

Even though itís too late to get on the list to make an oral presentation in London, Thunder Bay or Ottawa, if you haven't signed up already, you can still send in a written submission if you are from one of these cities or from anywhere else in Ontario. Written submissions will be accepted through until the end of Committee hearings i.e. until at least the end of September. You can send in a hard copy or email in an electronic copy, using the contact information below.

8. NEED FOR ACCOMMODATION:

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE STANDING COMMITTEE

Standing Committee on Justice Policy
c/o Anne Stokes, Clerk
Room 1405, Whitney Block
Queen's Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A2
Email: anne_stokes@ontla.ola.org