Saturday, February 22, 2014

Zzzzz .....

Good Day Readers:

CyberSmokeBlog is, at best, only peripherally familiar with the Ezra Levant case but it seems to be part of a larger, increasing debate regarding the effectiveness of administrative just (Human Rights Commissions/Tribunals) in Canada.

When you activate the banner below have a listen to Mr. Levant's deposition before a couple members (unidentified) from Alberta's Human Rights Commission. Notice the lady whose body language goes from listening to semi-comatose.

This same Commission has been embroiled in some controversy for its decision in Mihaly versus The Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta.

Below is an article by the National Post's Chris Selly about Mihaly versus APEGGA followed by a critique from frequent CSB contributor Chris "Mr. Self-Rep/Legal Researcher Extraordinaire" Budgell who makes the most sense.

"Mr. Self-Rep"

Clare L. Pieuk

Dear Clare,

Welcome to the first edition of "Fighting for Freedom" - my weekly newsletter! I'm using the e-mail address you once typed into my website to sign up for just such a newsletter. If you don't want to be on the list, it won't hurt my feelings if you click "unsubscribe" on the link at the bottom.

But I hope you do stay subscribed. I promise I won't spam you too much! Once a week I'll send you my favourite Sun newspaper column plus a few of the most interesting videos from my TV show on the Sun News Network!

Occasionally, I'll also send you updates on other fights - like my upcoming free speech trial, that starts in Toronto on March 3rd. You can read about that at

Enjoy the newsletter -- and keep watching the Sun!

Yours truly,
Ezra Levant
Fighting For Freedom

Taxman audits, enviro groups panic

Canada’s richest, foreign-funded environmental charities – the ones who always say ordinary Canadians should be paying more in carbon taxes – are complaining bitterly that they are being audited by the taxman, just like thousands of other Canadian companies and individuals are each year. Read more, here.

WATCH: Alberta’s Human Rights Tribunal puts diversity ahead of public safety by ruling against an engineering regulatory body’s decision.

Chris Selley: Rights tribunal says immigrant who failed engineering exam three times was discriminated against
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A framegrab from a video in which APEGGA Registrar Carol Moen explains why the group will appeal the Alberta Human Rights Commission tribunal decision. (YouTube)

It sounds like an all-too-common Canadian tale. In 1999, Czech immigrant Ladislav Mihaly sought accreditation from the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA). On account of where he got his two master’s degrees — the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, and the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague — APEGGA explained he needed to pass four exams in addition to the standard National Professional Practice Exam (NPPE). To date he has failed the NPPE three times.

It’s a clear and persistent problem: When we welcome immigrant professionals without fully assessing their skills or potential, everybody can wind up losing. Still. We obviously need professional standards for engineers. If Mr. Mihaly can’t or won’t meet them, there’s not much we can do about it. Right?

Ah, but this is Canada, and Mr. Mihaly has clearly been paying attention. So in 2008, he appealed to the Alberta Human Rights Commission that he was being discriminated against, illegally, on the basis of where he’s from. And on Feb. 6, in a bewildering decision, tribunal chairman Moosa Jiwaji agreed. Not only must APEGGA pay $10,000 in damages to Mr. Mihaly, he ordered, it must within three months “establish a committee … to specifically explore and investigate options to appropriately and individually assess [his] qualifications … with a view to correcting any perceived academic deficiencies.” Mr. Jiwaji suggests offering Mr. Mihaly “exemptions” from the NPPE or “the Fundamentals of Engineering exam” — hey, they’re only fundamentals — perhaps “combined with the implementation of a different method of assessment.”

APEGGA is furthermore to “match Mr. Mihaly with a mentor,” provide “networking” opportunities and help him improve his English.

Mr. Mihaly’s argument goes like this: APEGGA deems some international engineering programs “substantially equivalent” to Canadian ones, and thus may exempt their graduates from examination requirements. Canada also has arrangements with various other countries that can result in exemptions.

Unfortunately for Mr. Mihaly, his alma maters do not preside over such programs, and the Slovak and Czech Republics are not among those countries. Fortunately for Mr. Mihaly, having thrice failed the only accreditation exam he attempted, he has the nerve to argue he’s being punished for hailing from Czechoslovakia.

It’s nonsense. Firstly, APEGGA protested, the Alberta Human Rights Act bars discrimination against people according to their place of origin, not university degrees. And in any event, APEGGA argued, it didn’t judge Mr. Mihaly according to where he’s from but based on the university programs on his résumé. His résumé would have been treated exactly the same had he been from Russia or Poland or the moon.

Promisingly, Mr. Jiwaji cites in his decision an opinion of Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench that “‘place of origin’ cannot be stretched to include the place where the person received their PhD degree.”  But then, alas, he decides he’s “more inclined” to favour some other opinions.

In Giggey versus York Region District School Board, an Ontario Human Rights tribunal supported a generous interpretation of “place of origin” (though it declined to force the board to enroll a child born January 1 in Hong Kong as if he had been born December 31 in York Region, despite the inherent time zone discrimination).

In Bitonti versus British Columbia (Ministry of Health), a British Columbia Human Rights tribunal “concluded that while ‘place of origin’ does not include place of medical training per se, its interpretation is broader than simply place of birth.”

And in Neiznnaski versus University of Toronto, an Ontario Board of Inquiry determined that while people are “ostensibly … discriminated against on the basis of their foreign credentials,” because people tend to go to school where they’re from, “the effect often is to exclude groups linked to their place of origin, race, colour or ethnic origin.”

Neat, eh? You don’t have to have been discriminated against illegally per se. Legal discrimination against people who share a protected characteristic can simply add up to illegal discrimination. The possibilities for future complaints are endless. Maclean’s ranks Manitoba’s universities way down the tables.

Uncontroversially, a prospective employer will be more impressed with a degree from the University of Toronto than one from Brandon or Winnipeg. But maybe the cumulative effect of all those decisions is anti-Manitoba discrimination!

It’s all well and good to laugh. Unlike many of the poor schmoes human rights tribunals put through the wringer, the engineers have the money to defend themselves. APEGGA will appeal the ruling, and some superior court will hopefully blow it to smithereens. But these clay pigeons cost a lot of money. At the end of the day, legalities aside, Mr. Jiwaji wants to ensure the employment of an incompetent engineer under the banner of human rights. In the court of popular opinion, it’s not clear how long Canada’s current human rights apparatus can survive decision-making like that.
National Post

• Email: | Twitter @cselley

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Dear Mr. Selley,

I have written to you a few times previously, and in those emails I hope I've conveyed my disappointment with the media's approach to the issue of Canada's failed tribunal system.

Apart from such articles as this latest one, which criticize the conduct of various human rights tribunals in specific cases, what has the National Post offered the public? What are you suggesting in the way of "re-engineering"? Abolish the HR tribunals? Then what?

How about taking a shot at saying something new, instead of endlessly reworking the same story.

By investing a small fraction of the time I have invested over more than a decade, you could easily discern the outlines of the much larger story. A good place to start is with A.V. Dicey and what he had to say about "droit administratif".

One would think from the Post's record that "rights tribunals" is synonymous with "human rights tribunals". How many articles have you written about the HR tribunals and how many about the other tribunals?

I suggest that much more insightful reporting would result from actually talking to some of the people who are, or have been, involved in protracted tribunal cases. I am one such person and I have heard from others who like me have found the media doesn't want to hear from us. In some cases that may be for legitimate reasons, but no one has ever suggested to me that I am inarticulate, deluded, or even just mistaken in my assertions. No one in the media anyway. I have heard that from such esteemed experts as Norman Sabourin (in this very impressive piece of correspondence).

My view is that the tribunal system can be re-engineered, and I have some ideas on how to do that. But to date, no one has responded to my overtures to engage in any dialogue.

If A.V. Dicey were alive today I would hope that he would be given a voice through the media. To be clear though I am not suggesting that anyone, even Dicey, deserves such deference that their positions should be deemed unrebuttable. What we need is an intelligent, and national, debate. Since you've suggested "re-engineering" the system, why not take a shot at starting that debate. Here's one presumably authoritative voice that you can engage.

Chris Budgell
Vancouver, British Columbia

  AHRC Decision


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