When the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Canadian Human Rights Tribunal were established in 1977, the Canadian Human Rights Act offered the first real protections against discrimination federally, notably by government. Eight years before the enactment of s. 15 of the Charter, the possibility of scrutinizing workplaces, service-providers, government and federal law itself to enable Canadians to realize their full potential without being hamstrung by race, sex and such made for exciting times for human rights lawyers and rights-seekers alike.
But in more recent days, after budgetary cutbacks, legislative repeals and a jurisprudential transfer of its once exclusive jurisdiction, the commission and tribunal process suffers from endemic backlogs and delays, the by-product of which is an aggressive screening mechanism that dismisses or does not deal with a large percentage of complaints and results in shockingly few ["human rights"] tribunal decisions...Not so shocking, really. Not when you consider that most "human rights" complaints are nuisance ones, the reason they don't make it through. One can understand, though, why a lawyer would want screening to be less stringent; more cases being green-lighted means more money in lawyers' pockets. However, isn't it time for Canadians to take a hard look at this rickety and largely irrelevant apparatus and ask whether it is worth it--both in terms of annual costs and value for money--to keep the moribund beast up and running?