Henceforth, the commission will have nothing to do with specific complaints. It will be “proactive,” that is, it will be rather like a free-floating royal commission or public inquiry, choosing its own assignments, armed with daunting powers of search and seizure.
Earlier this year, the commission anticipated this role in two separate episodes, showing itself too ready to attribute racism both to rural Ontarian anglers and to Maclean’s magazine (and its contributor Mark Steyn), without evidence that went through the test of a hearing.
No doubt, the premise for this is that complainants are poor and disadvantaged while their complaints are often against companies who can afford to pay lawyers. But that could have been dealt with by the ordinary legal aid regime, with the usual assessment of need for assistance.
The effect will be to subsidize such complaints, quite a few of which, in the politically charged and political sensitive realm of human rights, are bound to have a tinge of zealotry.
The government of Ontario, rather than fomenting such claims, should let them stand or fall by the same standards as the pursuit and enforcement of rights in the regular legal process.
The arrival of the amended Ontario Human Rights Code is not the best way to celebrate Canada Day.