Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 5, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
Thursday, December 5, 1974 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 5 Human rights and inhuman remedies By Dr. Morris C. Shutniatcher, Regina lawyer Dr. M. C. Shumiatcher, Q.C. was the author of Canada's first BUI of Rights that of the province of Saskatchewan, passed in 1M7, a year before the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations was published. He is the past chairman of the Civil Liber- ties Section of the Canadian Bar Association. For more than 25 years he has been ac- tively engaged in advancing the civil rights of minority groups. Here he casts a critical eye upon the latest policies of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. That no person should be penalized because of his race or religion, creed or color, was the purpose of the first bill of rights in Canada. It was a bold concept that was given statutory embodiment in the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights a year before even the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights saw the light of day in San Francisco in 1948. Since 1947 many changes in human affairs and in the thoughtful processes of those who have been concerned with human rights and individual liberties have taken place. Some have contributed to a fuller understanding among people of different backgrounds. For example, minorities that were despised have been accepted, and some have become influential and even dominant in certain areas of our society. Other changes have been disturbing: the demand, for rights has eclipsed the truisim that where personal obligations are repudiated, there can ex- ist no human or social rights since a right is nothing more nor less than the cash proceeds from a cheque that is written by one who under- takes the obligation of honor- ing it. To survey the policies and activities of the recently created Human Rights Com- mission of Saskatchewan is to reach the sad and depressing conclusion that the civil liber- ties movement has now mov- ed full circle, and that what began some 25 years ago as a policy of liberation and tolerance of minority groups has grown into an instrument of irrationality in which dis- crimination and even oppres- sion of majority groups has been made a virtue on the theory that a put-down of the WASPS is a build-up of the ETHNICS and a kick at the "establishment" is a leg-up for the authoritarian left. What we are now witnessing is the inevitable result of accepting a sound principle and applying it dogmatically, totalistically, and with the ut- most zeal, thus losing sight of the fact that the purpose of a Bill of Rights is to reinforce legitimate rights that are being eroded and to ensure that all persons, whether they be members of a minority or a majority group, be not dis- criminated against upon the basis of qualities or characteristics it is impossi- ble or difficult for them to change: their race, creed, religion, color, sex, nationali- ty or place of origin. It is as improper to dis- criminate in favor of a minori- ty group as it is to dis- criminate against it. For ex- ample, discrimination against persons of Indian ancestry in employment because of their antecedents is morally, economically and legally wrong because it places them at a disadvantage that has no justification in respect of the only issue that is relevant to the employment: their ability and capacity to work. To dis- criminate in favor of Indians in employment because of their ancestry is equally un- justifiable because it places all other employable persons at a disadvantage; it is economically wasteful; and it creates separate classes of employable persons to whom different sets of standards are made to apply. Dis- crimination, whether "pro" or is undesirable because it creates and perpetuates a caste system of first, second and third class citizens. If Since 1947 the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights has outlawed discrimination because of a person's "race, creed, religion, color or ethnic or national origin." It declared that there must be no such dis- crimination in employment or occupations, in. membership in a trade union or professional association, in schools and other trainings, and in the ownership and ren- tal of real property. In 1956 two new statutes were spun off the original bill The Fair Employment Practices Act and the Fair Accommoda- tion Practices Act but no significant change was made in the policy of the law. Then, in 1972, two major changes were effected in the legislation. First, discrimina- tion was forbidden because of a person's sex. The term "ethnic origin" was deleted, doubtless because "ethnics" had by then become "in- groups" to whom governments at all levels were offering financial grants to develop and publicize their history and cultural origins. In place of the term "ethnic the legislature sub- stituted "nationality, ancestry or place of origin" as factors which thenceforth were to have no bearing in the fields of employment, education, membership in certain associations, or in the ownership or rental of proper- ty. Secondly, there was es- tablished in 1972 the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission with authority to administer the three statutes and to "forward the principle that every person is free and equal in dignity and rights without regard to race, creed, religion, color, sex, nationality, ancestry or place of origin." In the course of carrying out its mandate, the commission has recently adopted policies that have raised misgivings in the minds of many thoughtful persons who have been the staunchest supporters of Canada's first anti- discrimination bill. There is serious controversy in three distinct fields: (1) The right of the owner of a house or an apart- ment block to rent premises exclusively to men or women. (2) The right of an employer to consider a 'prospective employee's sex, nationality or ancestry or to ask questions that may obliquely relate to these subjects. (3) The right of the commission to either compel or urge the operators of hotels, restaurants or other places frequented by the public to display certificates that they are law abiding people and do not dis- criminate against their customers for any reason prohibited by law. Predictably, the first has given rise to most indignation. A shortage of rooming house accommodation in Saskatoon made it more difficult than usual for university students to find a place to live when school opened in the fall. Homeowners having one or more bedrooms available, offered them for rent, in some cases with meals included. A student renting such a place normally would become more than just a tenant; he or she would often be treated as a member of the family. Where the homeowner had children, one consideration was naturally the character of the newcomer; and where there were daughters in the house, often their parents would rent only to girls or women. Conversely, where the children of the homeowners were boys, the landlord would rent only to boys or young men. It is true that such parents were exercising a 6 year old whisky 5 year old price. :SH RULISER COLONY HOUSE CANADIAN WHISKY Beautiful! Palhser Colony House CanadianWhisky. stricter regime in their room- ing arrangements than the deans of mixed residences on many university campuses; but the right to decide to whom they should open the doors of their home and whom they should seat at their supper table seemed an inalienable one. Not so, said the director of the Human Rights Com- mission: To refuse to take in male or female roomers is a breach of the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights and punishable as an offence under that statute! Many Saskatchewan citizens who had lived their lives in a province peopled by residents of every national origin, religion, creed and color could not believe that a bona fide desire to protect their children and create for them the kind of environment they felt best in their own homes, could ever be regard- ed as an offence under the Bill of Rights. After all, it was the very first Bill of Rights passed by an English Parliament in 1689 that asserted the principle that an Englishman's home is his castle. That Bill of Rights came into being in the reign of King James II, after Charles I had met his inglorious end on the executioner's block when he insisted that as the divine embodiment of all the power of the state he had the right to compel the billeting of soldiers in the homes of his subjects. The Bill of Rights of 1689 asserted that there resid- ed no right in the king to com- pel a homeowner to open his doors and provide accom- modation to those whom he rejected. It is true that this principle does not apply to public places such as hotels; it is true also, that it may be suspended in time of war or national emergency even in relation to one's home. Nevertheless, it is a fun- damental right of a homeowner that he may decline to accept a stranger in his house, and it is one that ought not to be whittled away in the face of some allegation that the stranger has an amorphous but paramount right which, under the aegis of the Human Rights Com- mission, may entitle him to push his way through the front door of the house of concerned parents. The Saskatchewan Bill of Rights and its two companion statutes are not the only source of civil rights and human liberties; neither is the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission the sole custo- dian of the numerous rights and liberties which citizens and residents may claim. These enactments operate within only a small arc of the great wheel of human relationships, the hub of which consists of the duties that are owed and the obligations that are assumed by each of us as individuals. In the case of homeowners who are concerned that their children be raised in a suitable environment, their duty is to maintain an at- mosphere in the home which is compatible with their own moral and economic stan- dards, and to exclude those who may disrupt it. No one may enter that home, whether gratuitously or as a paying guest, if he is persona non grata; and if the rejection is' based on the sex of that per- son, his (or her) claim to oc- cupation must be subor- dinated to a great many other considerations that are the legitimate concern of the household. Not the least of those is the duty of parents to watch the health, the morals, the environment and the general well being that prevail in the house. In the scales that weigh the rights of the homeowner against those of the proposed roomer, the balance must come down decisively in favor of the private citizen and his right to choose who may sleep in his bed or eat at his table. The only place I know in which this right is denied is in the Soviet Union. What do teachers contribute By E. S. Vaselenak, Lethbridge separate school board member There has developed a controversy relating to the contributions made by teachers-to the common good of Canada. A good deal depends on what people believe is good. Is greed good? Is leaching money through un- justifiable price increases good? Many of us have a great deal to learn from teachers. Here are some of the goods that teachers try to instil in their students to contribute good to the society, by en- couraging, fostering, developing and teaching their charges day by day, unceasingly to do or be the following: To build up the intellect and judgement; to build and sustain character; to instil Chris- tian moral values; to use good judgement after the facts are known; to do one's very best at all times regardless; to be persevering; to learn one's capabilities; to practise "fair to strive to overcome one's faults; to pick one's self up from defeat and to battle seemingly insurmountable dif- ficulties and odds to turn defeat into sweet victory; to learn one's self worth; to learn and understand that a community is an interdependent living organism in which one must strive to live up to the highest stan- dards; to be there to give constant en- couragement; to respect others not for what they are not, but for what they are; to look at problems from many different angles under varying circumstances; to respect the ideas of others even though these may be diametrically opposed to our deeply imbedd- ed beliefs; to strive to serve others not for what we can get but for the love of a human being and to satisfy an inner longing to be helpful; to be our brother's keeper; to have compassion for those suffering pain and sorrow from whatever cause: to be forgiving and charitable. These are some of the contributions teachers make day in and day out, in the classroom They make these contributions almost unconsciously for the good of the community, the province, the country and for humanity. Where do these teachers come from? Many are second generation Canadians, some are recently arrived. Regardless, they have sprung from hardy, hard working, hope in- spired, frugal, law abiding, peaceful, all giving, religious, God fearing and God loving immigrants. Contrary to what some believe, teachers do not evaluate success in terms of abundance or lack of money but in terms of the esthetic qualities, the artistic talents, the intellectual prowess, the honesty displayed, the daily practising of the beatitudes: Visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison, helping those in need and dis- tress. They have sprung from immigrants from all over the world immigrants who knew that they had to leave all behind to strive to better their condition in life, whether monetary or political, so that their children might benefit from their heartbreak, their labors and their sacrifices. Others make contributions in different ways: farmers grow food crops, miners protect others from the cold and make it easier for the housewife to do her daily chores. Our immigrant fathers worked hard under adverse conditions. They farmed the land only as much as they could with their own hands. Their object was not to become wealthy by hook or by crook but to make a better living than in the land from where they came. They were not greedy for money or wealth. They wanted their children to have a good education and they wanted to own their own home and to supply the necessities of life for their families. They did not want to own vast tracts of land which they could not farm with their own hands. They were not greedy. They used the land intelligently using summer fallow to conserve the minerals and strip farming to save moisture. They did not mine the land like some huge landowners are doing today. They believed in leaving the soil fertility for other generations. Teachers contribute in another fashion intangibles not measurable in coin but in the mental and physical condition of the nation. Teachers help in great measure to weave the mosaic of our culture's values; they strive to develop stronger fibre made possible by the conglomeration of the peoples who chose to become Canadians. Canada to them was a haven and sanctuary for all they hold dear and sacred. They made our nation strong. Let's thank God for immigrants, shower them with deserved praises. Let us not degrade them by claiming they do not contribute to the good of our country and nation. ANDY RUSSELL Anti-hunting diatribe "Man by Cleveland Amory (Harper Row, 372 pages, distributed by Fitzhenry Whiteside Th'is book is a one-sided emotional diatribe against hunting as a sport and recreation. And as in a lot of cases where emotions rule, it is not altogether fair or cognizant of facts, even though his reactions are not without some justification. If hunters wonder why they come under such attack on occasion, as they do in this book, they really have nobody to blame but themselves, for their ethics have in no way kept up to the improvements of their equipment. Cleveland Amory is outraged at man's cruelty in pursuit of hunting, but those of us who have lived in the wilds observing wildlife while enduring the most primitive conditions know that nature can be utterly cruel. It plays no favorites, and the comparatively short-lived animals classed as game know no mercy in the selection of the fittest. Sometimes even a large portion of these perish. Amory acts on sentiment alone, with no background training either formal or prac- tical as a biologist or naturalist. But his reac- tions are understandable in view of man's ob- vious insensibilities, spawned of an industrial age where we have considered ourselves paramount to all forms of associated life. Just the same, I have the distinct impression that he has never watched deer or wild sheep slowly starve to death on a hard winter through over population. Nor does he seem to realize, that in spite of the hunting he condemns, there are more deer in North America today than when the Pilgrim Fathers landed. Like a lot of us, he is contemptuous of the hide hunters who wiped out the prairie bison, but he fails to recognize that they were only a by-product of a great intrusion that condemned the buffalo regardless. For the buffalo could not have survived in the face of white man's intrusion, with his plows and various industry. The author also fails to recognize the difference between conservation and preser- vation. There is no such thing as total preser- vation in nature. Let's face it; man is a natural born predator in his own fashion and none of that category are particularly noted for soft hearts. This statement is by no means an excuse, but just a recognition of cold blooded fact with the best hope being to influence his methods and outlook. To my dis- appointment, Mr. Amory fails completely to do this. To be sure, too many of us are unfeel- ing and uncaring, but Mr. Amory swings the pendulum of his outrage too far past centre and thus loses a lot of potential effec- tiveness. The author bitterly and caustically attacks about every historical figure that has been known to hunt from Julius Caesar to the pres- ent day. He takes Teddy Roosevelt apart with scathing comments, forgetting or overlooking completely the unassailable fact that this man did more for people and wildlife than anyone of his time by his strong and forceful efforts successful in forming national parks, national forests and national wilderness areas. If Roosevelt hadn't had the vision and the drive to do this 'or people and wildlife, it likely never would have been done, for fast growing industry wouldn't have allowed it. He attacks such organizations as the Sierra Club without any good reason; an organization that has fought long and hard for decent environmental management a kind of management recognizing sport hunting as a tool of conservation. Amory is contemptuous of the big money involved with sport hunting and condemns it, but for some reason the scythe of his wrath misses Ducks Unlimited. This organization spends millions annually in the reclamation of wetlands and improvement of marshes, a great program that has been of vast help to wildfowl and a host of associated wildlife as well as benefitting man. Every penny of it comes from donations by hunters reaching deep into their pockets for cash gifts. Mr. Amory and his followers are noisy and vitriolic in their condemnation in the name of mercy, but they completely fail to recognize the fact that good wildlife management takes big money, and none of them are noted for their generous handouts of cash. Neither have they conceded that more wildlife has been destroyed by destruction of habitat by population and industrial intrusion than hunters have ever taken. The author's repetition of condemnation goes so far in his book that I wonder if his design is not to enhance his seat on what he may consider the bandwagon of the times. I question his complete sincerity, for he goes too far much too far to be plausible. Garbage disposal By Doug Walker Can I have a raiw now I've got this certificate from my doctor saying I suffer bom malnutrition, sir? Every time the wind blows our yard becomes infested with tumbleweeds especial- ly Russian thistles. Their disposal has presented a vexing problem. We can't bum them. If we had a big barbecue we might get away with roasting them but unfortunately we only have a piddl- ing little hibachi. We can't bag them. It's hard enough getting crushed cardboard cartons into plastic bags without ripping them; getting a prickly thistle in would be impossible. Besides, I doubt if the stores have a big enough supply of bags to take care of all the weeds that come our way. the weeds wouldn't be good material for a compost heap even if I had one. The only thing I can do is release them and hope the people farther east will forgive me even as I forgive the people west of us who have done the same.