Ontario Human rights Reform - A call to Action

HELP RAISE CONTROVERSIAL BILL 107 IN UPCOMING HOTLY-CONTESTED SEPTEMBER 14 TORONTO BY-ELECTION

AUGUST 31, 2006

SUMMARY

An important provincial by-election has been called for Thursday, September 14, 2006 for the hotly-contested west Toronto riding of Parkdale--High Park. The riding was vacated when Liberal MPP Gerard Kennedy resigned to run for the federal Liberal leadership. We urge everyone to help raise the McGuinty Governmentís controversial plans to weaken the Human Rights Commission via Bill 107 in this by-election campaign. You can help whether or not you live in the riding. This by-election gives us an excellent chance to show that the controversial Bill 107 will be a serious issue in next yearís general provincial election if the McGuinty Government persists in its plans to weaken the Human Rights Commission despite strong community opposition to Bill 107.

As always, the non-partisan AODA Alliance doesnít tell anyone who to vote for, nor does it support or oppose any party. We encourage everyone to let voters in the riding know about the Bill 107 issues, to inform people about the partiesí position on Bill107, and to encourage voters to take it into account when deciding how to vote.

THE CANDIDATES

Liberal: Sylvia Watson
New Democratic Party: Cheri DiNovo
Progressive Conservative: David Hutcheon

THE PARTIESí POSITIONS ON BILL 107

All three major parties agree that the human rights system is too slow and back-logged, and needs to be reformed. They disagree on whether Bill 107 will make things better or worse.

Liberals: The Liberal Party brought forward Bill 107 and voted in support of it at Second Reading in the Legislature last spring(approval in principle). Attorney General Michael Bryant rejected calls for a full public consultation last spring before introducing his bill into the Legislature. He has since conceded that the bill requires amendments. He hasnít agreed to reveal his planned amendments before the end of the current public hearings into the bill.

NDP: The NDP voted against Bill 107 on Second Reading, and spoke against its weakening the Human Rights Commission. It called for the Government to hold full public consultations last spring before introducing a bill to reform the Human Rights Commission.

CONSERVATIVES: The Conservatives voted against Bill 107 on Second Reading, and spoke against its weakening the Human Rights Commission. It called for the Government to hold full public consultations last spring before introducing a bill to reform the Human Rights Commission.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

* Attend all-candidates debates in the riding and raise the Bill 107 issue. We donít have a firm schedule for these yet. Tentative debates that we have heard of include:

September 6th - 7:30 pm
Bloor West Village Residents Association
Runnymede United Church
432 Runnymede Rd. - (416) 767-6729

September 7th - 7 pm
Toronto District School Board All Candidates meeting

September 10th Ė 2 pm
Swansea Town Hall
95 Lavinia Ave. - (416) 392-1954

September 11th Ė 8 pm
Bishop Morocco
1515 Bloor St. W.

***These can change and there may be additional debates on other dates so check with the three major partiesí campaign offices to find out whether these dates are firm, and when other debates might occur.

Sylvia Watson
1678 Bloor Street West
Phone: 416-762-1411

Cheri DiNovo
2962 Dundas Street West (at Pacific Ave.)
416-604-7041

David Hutcheon
202 Jane Street
Phone: 416-769-3377

Questions you might ask could include:

1. Do you support or oppose Bill 107 taking away from discrimination victims, like persons with disabilities, racialized communities and others, the right which the Human Rights code now guarantees, to have each human rights complaint publicly investigated by the Human Rights Commission?

2. Do you support or oppose Bill 107 taking away the Human Rights Commissionís core role as the public agency to investigate and prosecute discrimination?

3. Do you think it strengthens the enforcement of human rights in Ontario for Bill 107 to weaken Ontarioís human rights enforcement agency, the Human Rights Commission?

4. Do you support or oppose increasing public funding to the Human Rights Commission so it can do a better job, after it has suffered under more than a decade of budget cuts?

* publicize the Bill 107 issue in your local media. Inform reporters about this by-election issue. Write guest columns and letters to the editor. Phone in to call-in radio shows. Write a letter to the editor of Toronto newspapers. Call or visit your local news media and urge that they give this issue real profile now and during the campaign.

* talk to people in the riding about this issue. Let other voters know how important this issue is to you, and encourage them to take it into account when deciding how to vote. You can do this at public meetings or even one-on-one by word of mouth.

* insist that this by-election be fully barrier-free. A fully barrier-free election, including barrier-free and fully-accessible all-candidates debates, lie at the core of the Human rights code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

* circulate this action tip on the internet, and print it up to distribute to others in hard-copy form.

* if you are part of a province-wide community organization, notify your offices in or near this riding. Urge them to distribute this action tip. Any help with making copies of this action tip is especially appreciated. Also, ask them generally to do what they can to get the word out on the Bill 107 issue. Encourage them to do whatever they can to help ensure that all voters with disabilities will be able to get to the polling booths and to vote without facing barriers.

This is not just a good opportunity for those who live in this riding where the by-election will be held. You can really help even if you live elsewhere.

People who live outside this riding can plan to come there to raise our issue with local voters. You can also contact people you know in these ridings and urge them to take the ODA issue into account when deciding how to vote. Let's show that voters won't stand idly by if the enforcement of human rights is weakened and privatized. Learn more about this issue at:

http://www.aodaalliance.org