Comission opposed to the undermining of the existence of the Commission on Human Rights and Youth Rights and that of the Human Rights Tribunal, the Quebec Bar filed in December, a vigorous advocacy for maintaining these two institutions. These are among the 60 agencies that the Boudreau Committee, set up by the Treasury Board, is charged with examining from a global perspective of "reengineering" the state.
The bâtonnier of Quebec, Denis Mondor
In its position, the Bar, under the baton of President Denis Mondor , defended the respect of the respective mandates of these two institutions. Mondor argued the relevance of these two complementary organizations within Quebec society: "The has Commission and Tribunal fill essential roles Their mandates should be not only maintained but also strengthened to enable them to respond. adequately to the tasks entrusted to them by the legislator . "
Who will be guarantor of the Charter?
Quebeckers have adhered to supreme values, "justice, equality, compassion," and have enshrined them in Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms . "These two organizations," says the president, "are precisely the main guardians of the Charter, and they are the only ones who devote themselves specifically and entirely to its implementation."
The Quebec Bar Association has entrusted the study of the relevance of the Commission mandates and the Court in its Human Rights Committee, chaired by M e Jean-Guy Ouellet. During its work, the Committee consulted many human rights and fundamental rights organizations. In his report, he insists on the role of "guard dog of the Charter" assumed by these two institutions.
For President Mondor, the needs that gave birth to the Commission in 1975 and to the Tribunal in 1990 are still evident. "The protection of fundamental rights, he says, and the rule of law are the pillars of the contemporary democratic state."
A unique and exclusive niche
The legislator wanted the constant interaction between the Commission and the Court to provide litigants with high-quality protection of their fundamental rights.
"In their multiple functions of education, investigation or advice to government agencies, they assume a key role that does not belong to any other institution in Quebec," says the president.
M e Mondor argues that these two institutions are distinguished from some 60 other agencies in the firing of Boudreau Committee. "This is not a mere provision of services by government agencies, such as auto insurance or fishing licenses," says the president. "The Commission and the Tribunal ensure the promotion and protection of Human Rights and Freedoms These are essential conditions for effective citizenship and public participation, and in this sense they provide a crucial function of social inclusion that guarantees a peaceful resolution of human rights. conflicts, thus ensuring stability and peace in society. "
do not have to pay court and extrajudicial costs . "
Thanks to its expertise in mediation and its power of investigation, the Commission facilitates the resolution of conflicts related to the protection of fundamental rights while avoiding the clutter of the courts. Think about his investigations of the wearing of the Islamic veil, about racism in the taxi industry, about relations between visible minorities and police forces, about violence against gay men and lesbians, about the exploitation of the elderly, to name a few, " all ," says the president, " have made a significant contribution to the development of a culture of rights by ending rights abuses. the adoption of important legislative reforms ".
In the absence of the Commission, explains the president of the Bar, citizens should always turn to the courts. Many are poor or lack adequate resources. " It would be an impossible step for them, access to justice would not be assured, and many fundamental rights would be violated or lost with impunity ."
Reduction of the invoice
For the better equipped citizens, the judicial remedy would be a waste of time and considerable money, while the Commission resolves many conflicts, satisfactorily for the parties, without needing to resort to courts. " Thanks to the Commission , the president argues, the state is ensuring both better access to justice and a reduction in the number of cases brought before the courts ."
Too many inequities remain
The establishment of the Tribunal has given rise to considerable case law regarding the application of the provisions of the Charter relating to respect for the right to equality. For the past 15 years, the debate on the protection of fundamental rights has been " refined " and, in this respect, considers the President of the Bar, " the Court allows access to justice particularly effective for citizens ".
Examples? The raw racism of the 1960s is less present, recognizes the president, " but the question of reasonable accommodations in religious matters, that of age discrimination and that of pay equity have complexities that require specific expertise if the we want to promote further study, a more serene debate, more sustainable solutions . "
Abdicate face the maze
In the absence of the Tribunal, citizens would be forced to resort to ordinary courts to have their rights recognized. " Once again ," he said, " in view of the meanders of ordinary justice, many citizens would not avail themselves of their right to a remedy, and their access to justice would be diminished." it is likely to be considerably weakened by the lack of specialized jurisdiction on the part of the court hearing the case . "
A special prism
Certainly, all courts may be called upon to address human rights issues. But in this regard, says the president of the Bar, the Human Rights Tribunal " stands out from the rest of the courts, examining human rights issues first and foremost and exercising a unique function. and indispensable, in that its sole competence is the adjudication of Charter violations, without any other normative concern . "
This specialization allows this Tribunal to develop " fine case law " that constantly interacts with the jurisprudence of other courts. " As a result, the Human Rights Tribunal contributes significantly to the advancement of social debate and to the advancement of broader protection of the rights and freedoms of all Quebeckers ." A key contribution and role that, according to the Bar, do not authorize a merger with the Court of Quebec or the creation of a specialized chamber within this Court.
RIGHTS ONLY ON PAPER?
M e Marc Sauvé, Director of Research and Legislation of the Quebec Bar
After health and education, is justice a priority for the Charest government? " Justice and the quality of justice , answers M e Marc Sauvé, Director of Research and Legislation of the Quebec Bar , must continue to be a social choice. It was justice that we want to give well . "
Yet cases of discrimination, harassment or exploitation have not disappeared with the advent of charters, observed M e Sauvé, also secretary of the Human Rights Committee on the issue of the position taken by the Bar filed with the Boudreau Committee.
For the latter, the Commission on Human Rights and the Rights of Youth as well as the Human Rights Tribunal " give a concrete meaning to the Quebec Charter ". Together, they offer tools to protect against discrimination and marginalization. " Citizens can not be satisfied with the fundamental rights on paper, without the ability to seek remedies to realize the " defends M e Sauve, who wants the government to grant more resources to these institutions to strengthen their role promotion and defense of human rights in Quebec society.