Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Michael McKinnon v. MSGCS - Settlement Reached after 23 Years of Litigation

By Selwyn A. Pieters, B.A., LL.B.
Barrister, Solicitor & Notary Public

After 23 years of litigation before the Human Rights Tribunal for Ontario, Michael McKinnon and the Ministry of the Community Safety and Correctional Services has reached a settlement.

In a short and brief decision on March 24, 2011, the usually, non-plussed, adjudicator, Professor Hubbard wrote:

[1]        Upon being advised that the parties have reached a settlement of all outstanding issues, it is hereby ordered that this proceeding is terminated.
This case was one in which Mr. McKinnon fought the good fight for all of the years. It is also a fight in which the adjudicator now in his 80's was a formidible force that the Ministry had to reckon against.

This is also a case where the Ministry, ill-advisedly, dug its heels in against both Mr. McKinnon and the Tribunal and, in effect, flagrantly twarted the intent and spirt of the Tribunal various orders.

Recently, the Tribunal stated a case of contempt against the Deputy Minister. In writing on that issue I stated:

The penultimate paragraph on which the stated contempt is based does not seem dispositive of the rationale of Professor Hubbard as to why the Deputy Minister Divisional Court should inquire into a stated case of contempt against the Deputy Minister. The Tribunal did not make findings of facts on the credibility of Ralph Agard. It is assumd that he is found to be credible. Problematic and troubling, however, is his admission that he previously misled the Tribunal in his capacity as an Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM). I think one should parce that admission to determine whether it is self-interested, given the former ADM was fired and is in litigation with the Deputy Minister in respect to that termination, particularly over his substantial loss of income, the expenses related to pursuing his lawsuit and any emotional distress, humiliation, loss of respect and esteem, adverse effects upon his personal, social and business life, that resulted from the lost of his job. I guess, from that perspective, upon reflection, I can see how the former ADM would relate to Mr. McKinnon and that is reflected in his answers as cited in para. 185.
Racism, racial profiling, racial harassment and racial stereotyping of Blacks, visible minorities and Aboriginals are not uncommon correctional facilities. And it effect is it creates, entrenches and perpetuates a myth of normality. For the recipient, the result is hurtful and counterproductive. The workplace is also affected, because the public policy in Ontario which “recognize the dignity and worth of every person and to provide for equal rights and opportunities without discrimination that is contrary to law, and having as its aim the creation of a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person so that each person feels a part of the community and is able to contribute fully to the development and well being of the community  and province”, is replaced by false negative racial stereotypes, and misinforming perceptions by law enforcement “peace officers” who are sworn to uphold the  law.
Mr. McKinnon has the right to a safe and respectful workplace, as all other employees does. Inmates have the right to a safe, harassment free and respectful correctional facility. The issues that arise in the Ministry twarts that. In any event, 

McKinnon v. Ontario (Correctional Services), 2011 HRTO 263 (CanLII) is very rare, ground-breaking and will certainly garner a lot of attention and litigation.For a profile of Jay Hope, see Jay Hope - University of Toronto - Great Past - Great Minds Bio and here. Mr. Hope profile does not indicate a person who would condone or tolerate racism, racial profiling, racial harassment and racial stereotyping of Blacks, visible minorities and Aboriginals, quite the opposite indeed.
I have a great degree of respect for Deputy Minister Hope and Mr. Michael McKinnon and I tip my hat to both of them for successfully resolving this matter!!!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

RIP Dudley Laws (May 7, 1934 – March 24, 2011)

Dudley Laws died on Thursday 24 March 2011 at 2:47 am .

I moved to Toronto in 1987 as a teenager. Dudley opened my eyes to 
social conditions of inequality and racism in policing in Toronto. As 
a lawyer he placed confidence in me and allowed me to litigate some 
interesting death in custody cases on behalf of the Black Action 
Defence Committee. He most certainly spoke for me with that voice now 
silenced. RIP Dudley Laws.

There will be a wake at Jamaican Canadian Center on Friday April1, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. 

Dudley Laws funeral service will be held on Saturday April 02, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. at the Revivaltime Tabernacle Church 4340 Dufferin St at Finch.  He will be laid to rest at Glenview Memorial Garden Funeral Home 7541 hwy #50 (just north of Steele  Ave) in Woodbridge.  

See the following links to relevant articles on Dudley's Life and Death:


Monday, March 14, 2011

Accessing Youth Court Records

On March 11, 2011, as a result of litigation before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, I managed to score a victory in R.M. v. Toronto Police Services Board. This decision sought to reconcile the decisions of Justice Weageant in S.M. v. Toronto Police Services Board, 2008 ONCJ 579 and S.M. v. Toronto Police Services Board, unreported, December 23, 2006 (O.C.J., per Weageant J.); Justice Blacklock in K.F. v. Peel Regional Police Services Board et al. and Justice Cohen in R. v. R. L., 2008 ONCJ 29.

As a result of this judgment it will now be easier to access records of extra-judicial measures for the purpose of litigation before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario  and in civil court.

Lawyer of the Week - The Lawyers Weekly - March 11, 2011, p. 5

Yesterday, I appeared on the pages of the The Lawyers Weekly as the lawyer of the week under the caption "Lawyers Lead the way on human rights", The Lawyers Weekly - March 11, 2011, p. 5.

The genesis of the article was the recent victory against racial profiling in Pieters v. Peel Law Association, 2010 HRTO 2411