This document explains the legal backdrop for the Commission’s Policy Framework. It is divided into two main sections. The first provides an overview and summary of key legal principles from some significant legal decisions. This section aims to help readers understand the relevant legal background when seeking to conciliate or otherwise reconcile competing rights claims. The second part of the document surveys the leading cases that deal with competing rights. It also provides examples of situations where the leading cases, and the key principles from them, have been applied by courts and tribunals. It is divided by the types of rights conflicts that most commonly arise. The cases are discussed in some detail as the specific factual context of each case is so important to the rights reconciliation process.
The Code contains provisions to help ensure that everyone has the equal opportunity to access housing, and the benefits that go along with it, without discrimination based on race, colour, ancestry, creed (religion), place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, disability and receipt of public assistance. It also prohibits harassing behaviour in housing on the basis of these grounds.
In general, competing human rights involve situations where parties to a dispute claim that the enjoyment of an individual or group’s human rights and freedoms, as protected by law, would interfere with another’s rights and freedoms. This complicates the normal approach to resolving a human rights dispute where only one side claims a human rights violation. In some cases, only one party is making a human rights claim, but the claim conflicts with the legal entitlements of another party or parties.
In our society we have different levels of rights – Charter rights, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Code rights, from Ontario’s Human Rights Code, statutory rights created by laws and other “perceived rights.” As people better understand their rights and wish to exercise them, some of those rights can come into conflict. For example, the right to be free from discrimination on the ground of religious creed, or sexual orientation or gender can sometimes appear to be at odds with other rights.
As people better understand their rights and wish to exercise them, some of those rights may come into conflict with the rights of others. Depending on the circumstances, for example, the right to be free from discrimination based on creed or sexual orientation or gender may be at odds with each other or with other rights, laws and practices. Can a religious employer require an employee to sign a “morality pledge” not to engage in certain sexual activity? Can an accuser testify at the criminal trial of her accused wearing a niqab?
From: Competing Human Rights
Read the following news clipping about a recent competing rights case. This is an example of Charter rights (creed and sex) versus another Charter right (right to a fair trial).
You can also watch a short CTV News video about the case.
Published Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012
From: Competing Human Rights
Muslim barber and woman denied service
Read the following excerpt from a news clipping about a competing rights case. This is an example involving two Code grounds – creed versus sex. When you’re finished reading, answer the questions at the bottom of the page.
You can also watch this CTV news video about the case.
This section of the paper surveys the balancing tools found in the Code and relevant case law. Documents such as Commission briefing notes and Policy Papers provide invaluable commentary on these tools and their insights are woven into the following discussion. The goal of this section is to identify the resources for balancing conflicting rights that will be utilized in the scenarios discussed in Section IV.
April 2012 - The main goal of this policy is to provide clear, user-friendly guidance to organizations, policy makers, litigants, adjudicators and others on how to assess, handle and resolve competing rights claims. The policy will help various sectors, organizations and individuals deal with everyday situations of competing rights, and avoid the time and expense of bringing a legal challenge before a court or human rights decision-maker. It sets out a process, based in existing case law, to analyze and reconcile competing rights. This process is flexible and can apply to any competing rights claim under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, provincial or federal human rights legislation or another legislative scheme.
Factum of the intervener Ontario Human Rights Commission.