I could not believe my eyes when I read the Divisional Court's ruling in Pieters v. Peel Law Association. The Divisional Court ruling states that the HRTO took no position on the application proper other than to request that if the application is allowed that it be heard by a new panel. This is an odd move indeed. In my close to twenty years I have yet to come across a tribunal like the HRTO taking such a position. Normally tribunals strenuously support their decisions. During my articles of clerkship with the Ontario Labour Relations Board I took great pleasure in watching the likes of current Justice of Appeal Stephen Goudge and Mr. Chris Paliare forcefully advocate on behalf of the OLRB at the Divisional Court.
As a lawyer who is interested in the rule of law, fairness and human rights in Ontario I am troubled by the HRTO's failure to make submissions in support of the Tribunal's decision before the Divisional Court. I wonder whether the fact that the decision involved the controverial issue of racial profiling and the legal profession caused this unusual position. If this is the case then surely the HRTO has failed to live up to its objective. If this is the case it sends a very loud message to the community of respondents - employers - service providers and the like that human rights in Ontario are not quasi-constitutional rights as the Supreme Court of Canada often refers to them. I leave you with this. The HRTO's refusal to make submissions before the Divisional Court on a racial profiling case which their tribunal upheld is like the OLRB finding that Walmart committed an unfair labour practice under the Labour Relations Act by firing 10 union supporters and then appearing before the Divisional Court and not making submissions in support of their decision. It is unusual beyond belief.
Note: This piece is written for the sole purpose of drawing public attention to an issue of public importance - namely - the operation of the HRTO and the respect for human rights in Ontario.