First, the good news. Alex Allarie's complaint was dismissed. Vice Chair Leslie Reaume found that he had entered the store to provoke a confrontation and that he was not asked to leave for any reason involving his dog. Although CBC quotes Allarie as saying he intends to appeal, in reality this is not an option, since there is no right of appeal for HRTO rulings. There is an opportunity to request reconsideration, but this only applies if new material evidence is to be presented. The only other option would be for Allarie to request judicial review, which seems unlikely to happen and even less likely to succeed.
So far, so good. But let's look more closely at the wording of Ms. Reaume's ruling, shall we? Because, in fine Human Rights industry tradition, and following firmly in the footsteps of her Leader, Barbara Hall, Ms. Reaume isn't content to confine herself to a finding of facts. No good Human Rights ruling is complete without a drive-by smear, and Ms. Reaume lets loose on the Roubles, especially Leslie Rouble, in her ruling. She notes (emphasis mine):
The respondents were particularly hostile toward the applicant, the Tribunal and the human rights system in general. In her opening statement Ms. Rouble expressed considerable anger that the Tribunal would “gladly entertain Mr. Allarie’s ludicrous complaint” and outrage at being “compelled” to attend the hearing to be “interrogated” by the government.and
I found Ms. Rouble, who gave the primary evidence for the respondents, extremely hostile and prone to exaggeration. Similarly, Ms. Robillard was hostile and argumentative with the Tribunal, initially refusing to comply with an order excluding witnesses. During her testimony she made it clear that she had her own concerns with Mr. Allarie as did several other local merchants. Her hostility toward Mr. Allarie was palpable and, after giving her evidence and returning to her seat, she had to be asked to stop interjecting in the proceeding to advocate for the respondents. In my view, the credibility of both Ms. Rouble and Ms. Robillard was affected by their approach to giving evidence before the Tribunal.Nice character assassination there. Now, I was in the room for the hearing, and I know what's got Ms. Reaume's goat here. It's that the Roubles, quite politely but firmly, refused to shake her hand. Ms. Reaume was embarrassed, humiliated in front of a CBC camera, and clearly angry with them from then on. These words in the ruling serve no material purpose except to exact Ms. Reaume's revenge on the Roubles. On one level, this is simple cattiness, which we would expect from any of the HRT/HRC thugs. But I think it's rather more serious than that. Ms. Rouble actually determines that the credibility of Leslie Rouble's testimony is affected by her view of the Human Rights system. In other words, Leslie Rouble's politics determines the credibility of her evidence.
The sarcastic use of quotes around "compelled" and "interrogated" suggests that these are mischaracterizations of the process. But the Roubles were compelled by the HRTO to be there, and they were compelled to answer Ms. Reaume's questions. Those are facts.
As Kelly Egan in the Citizen points out, anyone subjected to the state sanctioned harrassment of the HRT process over a bogus, trumped up claim is bound to be hostile to the process. Furthermore, anyone who's read Shakedown is going to be hostile toward the human rights system in general. But as citizens of this country, we used to be entitled to be equal before the law no matter what our beliefs and opinions. No longer.
With Ms. Reaume in charge, you can expect to be found less credible unless you support the long arm of government thought control she represents. Resistance is futile.
Given that Leslie Reaume makes free with the character and reputation of honest, hard-working, decent people just because they upset her, it might be instructive to narrate a little story about her; after all, character affects credibility, no?
Ms. Reaume's name has been up in lights in a number of areas, most notably during her career as counsel at the Canadian Human Rights Commission. But she's famous for more than that. She's part of a textbook family law case.
While at Western, Ms. Reaume was married (to a man, just to be clear). Two of the professors in the feminist law world at UWO were also 'partnered' with each other in a lesbian relationship, in which one of them, Ms. Greaves, had born a child. This notwithstanding, Ms. Reaume entered into a lesbian relationship with Ms. Buist, the other partner, while still a student of hers. Eventually Ms. Greaves found out about the relationship and the couple seperated. Ms. Reaume also left her husband and moved in with Ms. Buist. Not content with breaking up the happy home, the Reaume-Buist coupling then spent years litigating to take the child away from his natural mother, Ms. Greaves.
Now, up here in backward, knuckle-dragging rural Ontario, we still tend to frown on homewrecking as an occupation. It's true that Ms. Reaume wasn't the first or last student to drop her panties for teacher, but we also think that bears on her character and her credibility. So as you read the ruling, why not remember who Ms. Reaume really is - and see how credible you think that makes this latest example of HRT excess.
Footnote: Ms. Reaume pocketed $105,828.78 in salary in 2008.