Thursday, April 15, 2010

Saskatchewan Set to Lead on Human Rights Commissions

Saskatchewan to consider scrapping Human Rights Tribunal

In Saskatchewan, changes may be coming for the province's Human Rights Commission.

Notably, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal may shut down.

Justice David Arnot, Saskatchewan's Human Rights Commissioner, has recommended that Saskatchewan's Human Rights Tribunal be discontinued.

"Currently human rights law, I think it's fair to say, is evolving," Arnot said. "It's becoming more and more complex and the Human Rights Commission believes that judges are best placed to deal with those complexities rather than an administrative tribunal that really doesn't have any dedicated officers or assigned staff and has really little infrastructure."

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan has suggested that, if the tribunal is scrapped, that its cases will be forwarded to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench.

"This is a recommendation that's come forward and is a recommendation that, in fact, may have some merit. There are criticisms that the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal may be seen as too close to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission," Morgan explained.

Yet NDP MLA Frank Quennell decided to overlook the recommendation from Arnot, suggesting this all may be politically motivated.

"I think there are supporters of the Saskatchewan Party (government) who aren't happy with decisions of human rights tribunals over the years and that is part of the motivation here," Quennell grumbled.

Yet whether Quennell cares to admit to it or not, Canada's Human Rights Commissions and their Tribunals have been a matter of significant contention in Canada. Saskatchewan has been no different than any other province.

Saskatchewan is hardly known as a national leader on conservative issues. Should the province decide to scuttle its Human Rights Tribunal, it will have taken leadership the the rest of the country will not be able to help but consider.

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