Frank Klees

Press Release

June 4, 2009

KLEES: Reform the Human Rights Commission,

Refocus on Discrimination

 

(Queen’s Park)  Newmarket-Aurora MPP and PC Leadership Candidate Frank Klees  tabled a Private Member’s Bill that is an essential first step to refocusing the Ontario Human Rights Commission on its original mandate and it received First Reading in the Ontario Legislature today.

The Bill, entitled the “Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2009” will remove Section 13 from the Ontario Human Rights Act.  This is the section that Klees and many observers of the Human Rights Commission and its companion, the Human Rights Tribunal, point to as the section of the Act that has given rise to what Klees refers to as the “over-reach” of the HRC Commission into matters dealing with freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

“There is a growing recognition among Ontarians that the Human Rights Commission has moved far beyond its original mandate,” Klees said.  “Instead of ensuring fundamental access to public services, non-discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, religion or disability, the Act is today being used to attack the views and opinions of innocent, law-abiding citizens. It was never intended for this purpose.”

 “The private member’s bill I have tabled today would, if passed into law, repeal Section 13 of the Ontario Human Rights Act.  This is the section that is being used by the Commission to justify investigations into the views and opinions of the citizens of Ontario.  This has a chilling effect on freedom of expression and is contrary to that important value in our democratic society,” Klees said.  “Freedom of expression is a core value of democracy from which all other rights naturally flow and without which our political system would perish.”

“I recognize that adhering to that right sometimes means hearing things we may not want to hear,” Klees said.  “When I hear something I disagree with, I stand up and speak out against it.  That is the way we counter expression we disagree with, and that is a freedom we expect to be upheld in a free and democratic society.”

“There are those who want to abolish the Ontario Human Rights Commission.  I strongly disagree with that position.  Abolishing the Human Rights Commission and its Tribunal is not the answer, and would in fact, send the wrong message to Ontarians and the international community about the importance we place on human rights in this province,” Klees said. 

“Punting human rights violations into the courts would only further limit access to justice, given the prohibitive costs of litigation in a court system that is already difficult to access. The responsible solution is to reform and refocus the Human Rights Commission, not to abolish it.”                                                                     -30-

Frank klees, MPP

416-509-8999