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!!!!!

1 comment:

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