Law and Justice

One Flew Over the Kangaroo Court, Part II: The System Invents its Own Jurisprudence

Gleb Lisikh
July 3, 2024
An encounter with a nearly incomprehensible, seemingly absurd and coldly indifferent judicial body offering no apparent hope of resolution would surely cause most citizens to give up in disgust. Gleb Lisikh is made of different stuff; being patronized and rebuffed only makes him dig harder. In this continuation of his now three-year-long legal Odyssey (Part I can be read here), Lisikh provides a firsthand account of the worsening dysfunction of Canada’s court system – and makes the startling discovery that activist human rights adjudicators are attempting to exclude millions of Ontarians from the protection of the human rights code.
Law and Justice

One Flew Over the Kangaroo Court, Part II: The System Invents its Own Jurisprudence

Gleb Lisikh
July 3, 2024
An encounter with a nearly incomprehensible, seemingly absurd and coldly indifferent judicial body offering no apparent hope of resolution would surely cause most citizens to give up in disgust. Gleb Lisikh is made of different stuff; being patronized and rebuffed only makes him dig harder. In this continuation of his now three-year-long legal Odyssey (Part I can be read here), Lisikh provides a firsthand account of the worsening dysfunction of Canada’s court system – and makes the startling discovery that activist human rights adjudicators are attempting to exclude millions of Ontarians from the protection of the human rights code.
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Q: How many Ontario judges does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: It is impossible to know upfront, but certainly more than kangaroos.

—Another Australian Aboriginal anecdote

This article chronicles the continuation of what has become my apparently endless struggle with Ontario’s judicial system. At issue is a seemingly simple question, yet I have been tied down for three years in seeking answers for why my son – or any other non-black teen-ager – would be denied access to a publicly funded summer education program because of the colour of his skin. Many details of my tortuous legal path will strike the reader as tedious in their complexity and opaqueness. They certainly were for me, who experienced them. But they reveal significant – and, in my opinion, unacceptable – dysfunctions in Canada’s legal system. Since any Canadian citizen could find themselves subjected to these dysfunctions, I believe they are of profound public interest.

Even in the Communist Soviet Union, where the author grew up, racism was publicly condemned; in present-day Canada, as he discovered, it has become a legalized and openly upheld policy. Shown, a USSR-era propaganda poster stating “No to racism!”

My story began in July 2021 with my filing a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) about a free (i.e., taxpayer-funded) educational program called SummerUp. SummerUp offered, among other things, a Java programming course that had interested my teen-aged son. But, we found out, he could not even apply for the course as it was open only to black youth. Even under the Communist regime of the Soviet Union where I grew up, we were incessantly taught that racism was bad, so I was sure that such blatant discrimination had to be illegal in Canada. I was soon to find out otherwise.

The two-year struggle to have the substance of our human rights complaint heard was the subject of One Flew Over the Kangaroo Court: My Fight Against Human Rights Tyranny, published last year here in C2C. My experience evokes dystopian sci-fi like George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World as well as Lewis Carroll’s classic satire/fantasy Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – yet it is a real-world case, and others like me are going through similar legal torture.

The frustrating absurdities of this process inspired the article’s headline and, though the effort was legally unsuccessful, it revealed several shocking things, which before moving onto my latest experiences can be summarized as:

  • Ontario’s educational system facilitates reverse discrimination through a system of “special programs” that are camouflaged through Section 14 of the Ontario Human Rights Code as ameliorating the allegedly disadvantaged situation of so-called “racialized people”, such as black youth;
  • “Race” itself has been redefined from the common and long-accepted basis of immutable characteristics into a fluid and subjective assessment based on cultural elements such as clothing, manner of speech or personal taste – things that until recently would have been considered tasteless if not outright racist stereotypes;
  • This redefinition provides further camouflage for programs that an ordinary citizen would recognize as racist in the true sense, and frustrates attempts to mount a legal challenge seeking redress; and
  • Ontario’s human rights establishment increasingly believes that white people, uniquely among all classes or types of individuals, cannot be discriminated against. The implications of this became clearer over the past year, following publication of Part I.

I encourage you to read Part I to gain a better understanding of these points. That chapter ended in early 2023 with the Human Rights Tribunal’s dismissal of my complaint (you can view the reasons for dismissal). Following this I decided to attempt to request Judicial Review of the Tribunal’s decision. That process, which is ongoing, has revealed two additional aspects of our judicial system that should be of intense concern to every citizen.

“[The Queen] is so extremely likely to win, that it’s hardly worth while finishing the game”: The author’s extended experiences in dealing with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) reminded him of Lewis Carroll’s classic satire Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – but one where Wonderland has gone woke. (Source of photo: Shutterstock)

First, the judicial system has become so slow, unwieldy and difficult to understand that the dysfunction itself threatens every citizen’s ability to seek (let alone obtain) justice. Second, the culturally Marxist ideology of “anti-racism” (i.e., reverse racism) so infects the thinking of many officials within our justice system that some appear willing to concoct false jurisprudence that furthers the overall agenda. These are serious charges but are demonstrated by my experience, and are backed by the assessment of at least one of Canada’s foremost legal scholars. I’ll begin with a summary of the latest leg of my legal Odyssey over the past year, which illustrates the first point.

The Increasing Dysfunction of Canada’s Legal System – Or Prohibition by Process

It must be said that Ontario’s courts and quasi-judicial tribunals operate in a very relaxed mode. They seem never to have deadlines for doing their part of the business. It previously took a year, for example, for the HRTO just to acknowledge and start work on my initial application. But they always have deadlines for their “customers” (i.e., citizens who require a decision from the legal system, as opposed to those who operate within it), often 30 days. Once they make a decision, they shut down communication and only provide further advice after numerous requests, if at all, which places the “customer” at great risk of missing the deadline the system has imposed on them. And those deadlines, unlike any the system might impose on itself, are taken very seriously.

In this way, my Judicial Review application to appeal the HRTO’s decision was rejected by the Tribunal, as I missed the 30-day deadline by less than one day in March 2023. That meant the matter had to be escalated to the Divisional Court of Ontario (a branch of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice). That required a personal trip to the courthouse on Queen’s Street in Toronto, which I did late that month. The clerk there endowed me with a pile of paper and the advice to email the HRTO asking it to extend the Judicial Review deadline. This I did, but got nothing back for the following three weeks.

Towards the end of May 2023, I contacted the Divisional Court office again, seeking more advice. They seemed surprised at their own earlier suggestion to request the HRTO’s consent and now advised me to make a motion. We had a prolonged back and forth for me to grasp the required forms and procedure, which seemed to emphasize things like the collation and colour of the pages rather than the content.

Ontario’s educational system practices reverse discrimination by offering numerous special race-based programs such as SummerUp, intended to benefit black youth, that exclude members of other races. (Source of photos: SummerUp)

I was repeatedly advised to have a lawyer do this for me, but I could never understand why bringing a simple application to a lower-level court should require a lawyer when the courts allegedly exist to serve the needs of regular citizens. Also, it was proving difficult to find a lawyer sympathetic to my son’s cause, as apparently this field has been completely “captured”, while the relatively few remaining judges who are willing to go against prevailing narratives, such as Alex Pazaratz, are increasingly marginalized.

So I soldiered on by myself and, that August, filed a Notice of Motion (From 37A) with the Registrar of the Divisional Court to request an extension of time for my application for Judicial Review. Advised that my motion was still incomplete, I scrambled to correct it promptly so that on September 20 Divisional Court staff emailed me directions issued by Justice Wendy Matheson regarding a case conference scheduled for September 27 with Justice Janet Leiper. I was by now confused at all those judges, directions and most important what stage my motion was even at. But apparently the conference call was merely to gauge the mood of the Tribunal and the “Ontario” representatives and to educate me further on how to file the still incomplete motion.

Let me here clarify what I was trying to accomplish in that appeal and why I thought the formal involvement of a lawyer was unwarranted. The HRTO’s previous rejection of my overall application was based on its view that I had no “standing”, which concerns a party’s legal right to initiate a lawsuit. I allegedly lacked standing in this case because, the HRTO claimed, it had not received a required special form (4A) through which a minor consents to be represented by his legal guardian.

Would a 3-year-old march into court on their own? The author finds it odd that Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal requires a minor to sign a consent form to be represented by their legal guardian. Isn’t it implied within the definition of “minor” that a parent or guardian habitually acts on their behalf?

As a side note, I find the idea of a minor consenting to have his litigation affairs conducted by a parent somewhat odd. Is there anywhere a case of a minor marching into a court proceeding alone? And while my son was old enough to understand the matter at hand and comprehend the consent form, what would happen in an analogous situation involving a much younger child, say, a three-year-old denied use of a playground due to their race? Would the HRTO demand a child too young even to read or write sign a “consent form” and, otherwise, deny the parents legal standing? Isn’t the very concept of “minor” intended to signify that parents or legal guardians habitually act on the young person’s behalf without any “consent” forms?

It’s true that, for these reasons, I had initially ignored the HRTO’s Form 4A. The Tribunal’s subsequent rejection of my application changed my attitude toward the case and, rather than making me dejected, stimulated my curiosity. My son and I completed the nutty formality and submitted Form 4A on November 23, 2022, referencing its submission in our Reconsideration Application filed on January 22, 2023. There is indisputable evidence that the Tribunal received the form. But to this day it denies having done so.

So my current motion with the Divisional Court was focused on disputing the HRTO’s denial and thereby reclaiming standing in the overall case. Arranging for that simple finding of fact required seven months, tons of paperwork and God knows how many taxpayer-funded people with hefty titles and salaries. The list of parties in correspondence with this matter included the Superior Court of Justice – Ontario, the Divisional Court, the HRTO, His Majesty the King in Right of Ontario as represented by the Ministry of Education, and the Attorney-General of Ontario.

The case conference took place as scheduled on September 27, 2023 and the mood of the parties was very amicable and forthcoming, suggesting there’d be no objections to my naïve motion. At the conference, Justice Leiper noted that I had not served the Ministry of Education or the Crown (presumably the Attorney-General of Ontario) with notice of the application. Accordingly, I would need to “to file and serve a Notice of Motion to extend time to bring his application for judicial review.” I was instructed to serve the “motion materials” before October 30, 2023 and the other parties to respond before November 20, 2023. The motion was set to be reviewed by a judge (without the parties present) on December 4, 2023 and a written ruling issued.

I filed and served my part on time. Meanwhile the deadlines imposed on the other parties came and went. So did the hearing date itself. A week later, the Crown responded with a “factum” enumerating reasons for requesting dismissal of my motion. The Divisional Court had no objection to that, even after I reminded them of the Crown’s deadline violations. The court simply ignored me.

The hearing of the author’s motion with the Divisional Court was scheduled to proceed on December 4, 2023 (top) but never took place; the Human Rights Tribunal continued to claim it had not received a required form which had in fact been submitted.

As for the belated factum, besides the usual legal mumbo-jumbo it merely regurgitated the Tribunal’s earlier talking points (minus its pronouncements about how whites cannot be discriminated against) including – despite the evidence I had made available to the contrary – baldly re-stating that the HRTO “did not receive a Form 4A.”

The Divisional Court hearing did not take place in December, of course, or in January, or in February. Although I had been informally advised by my growing circle of supporters not to badger the judge, I contacted the court registrar to ask if I had missed any communication on the matter. Perhaps that had an effect, perhaps not, but on April 15 Justice Shaun O’Brien dismissed my motion with the now-familiar non-sequitur that, “Mr. Lisikh confirmed he was not bringing the application on behalf of his son.” She apparently did not even bother looking into the documents supporting the main reason for my motion. I had stated in a formal motion to the court, accompanied by evidence, that I had submitted the form. The Tribunal claimed that it had not received it. And that was good enough for O’Brien. Whatever the Tribunal said simply was considered true.

“Even if Mr. Lisikh attempted to file the form later,” O’Brien wrote, “it was open to the Tribunal to deny Mr. Lisikh standing…” “Even if?” How about simply consulting the documents filed in support of the case to check whether and when the form was actually submitted, instead of indulging in delirious speculations? Isn’t it the judge’s job to check the evidence, especially when it is conveniently laid out in the prescribed format and place (CaseLines, as the accompanying image shows)?

Isn’t it a judge’s job to check the evidence submitted, especially when it is conveniently laid out in the prescribed format and place (CaseLines, as the top image shows)?

I was beginning to catch the rhythm of moving up the court hierarchy: an important element of the justice system makes a self-serving or incorrect claim, this is accepted as the truth, a judge or adjudicator dismisses your claim, system employees procrastinate with contradictory advice, deadlines are missed, proceedings are lengthened, you are tortured with legal jargon, apparently new avenues open up in the form of different motions, bizarre and antiquated forms further bog down the process, ludicrous formalities arise that curiously always favour one side. Eventually, the process ratchets one level higher – only for the cycle to repeat. Resolution remains elusive.

As a quick aside, while much of the legal business is now conducted via e-mail and online uploads, one still needs to produce a notarized affidavit in hard copy, involving yet another special form, which swears that one has actually served the various parties with a given package of documents. This itself is a convoluted process.

Anyway, onto the next level. The Divisional Court predictably would not answer my questions about appealing O’Brien’s decision, and I was advised by a third party that this must be done in the Court of Appeal of Ontario, the province’s highest court. The court’s website indicated that I had only 15 days to file the required motion. I rushed to make the deadline and issued the notice of motion on April 25 – five days ahead of time! I certainly did not want to end up applying for my third deadline extension.

And again I was mistaken: the Court of Appeal registrar told me that in my case the dismissed motion had to be appealed to a special panel of the Divisional Court. What? How? I sought answers from the Court of Appeal’s Office of the Registrar, and an employee named Stacy wrote back: “At this time I cannot provide directions on reviewing the Divisional Court Single Judge to a panel, Divisional Court would have to provide you with those directions.” Catch 22! I was getting angry and Rebecca, another employee at the Court of Appeal, had to calm me down by nudging the Divisional Court to finally get back to me and explain the right process. Thank you, Stacy and Rebecca! I truly mean that.

Why not four hours? Following Justice Shaun O’Brien’s (left) dismissal of the author’s motion, the Divisional Court was supposed to provide the directives on the appeal process; the directives arrived, but imposed an unrealistic four-day deadline. Meanwhile, government agencies were allowed to ignore deadlines without suffering any penalty.

Apparently, I had to “move to set aside or vary” O’Brien’s dismissal. The deadline for that was – ready? – in four days. I wondered why not four hours. I was travelling at the time and so, even if I had already understood the appeal process and even without the Court of Appeal’s U-Turn, there was no way for me to “move to set aside or vary” within that generous (sarcasm) deadline.

So, as of this writing I am back at requesting another extension for breaching another deadline. My request reads: “Motion to extend time for the deadline to move to set aside or vary the Divisional Court decision dismissing a motion requesting extension of time from the lower court (HRTO) in order to request judicial review of the HRTO’s initial and reconsideration decisions.” Got it? This time I am doing it thoroughly, with the full assortment of “court materials” including not only the notice and affidavit but the full motion record, a “factum” of my own and a full set of exhibits of documentary evidence. Also – the most difficult part – I’m cutting down dramatically on my sarcasm.

My motion notice was served on all the parties on May 20 and the court filing – my biggest ever – was done on June 6, uncannily the 25th anniversary of my landing in Canada. The full 63-page motion record under file #307/24 can be found here. The motion awaits Justice David Corbett’s decision. I am not holding my breath; this journey has lost its original connections to common sense and my belief in justice.

One of my reasons for preparing the current motion so thoroughly is to make my claim, the surrounding story and the court process publicly visible. Published court decisions, while important, don’t reveal the full story of the legal process. Another reason is that by now I’ve accumulated so much material (from the proceeding itself, from people who supported my case and from an extra development, discussed next) that could all be incorporated into my appeal.

Turning to Ontario’s Ombudsman

Last November I learned that certain matters – such as concerns about “systemic administrative problems” – might be resolved through the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario without an investigation or hearing. Those words sounded tailor-made for the HRTO’s behaviour, especially in relation to the missing Form 4A. In January I applied to the Ombudsman, keeping my request tightly focused on establishing what happened to that elusive document.

Relatively quickly I got a response from an “Early Resolution Officer” named Angela, followed in February by an encouraging conversation over Zoom. Encouragingly to me, Angela was still calling herself an “ombudsman” and not the (to me ludicrous) “ombudsperson” that’s now mainstream in places like Canadian universities. Angela promised to review some relevant documents, consult with her team and then (most likely, she said) make an inquiry with the HRTO.

As in his dealings with the court system, the author’s experience with Ontario’s Ombudsman’s office has been painfully slow and frustrating, with no end in sight – not quite what the service pledges.

Although I tried to keep the conversation completely detached from the legal proceedings and focused on the administrative error (Form 4A) – which seemed to be well within the Ombudsman’s remit – Angela did ask about the court proceedings. So I had to admit that I was awaiting O’Brien’s motion decision. Angela then replied that we should pause on the Form 4A investigation in order “not to interfere with the court proceeding.” I grudgingly gave in, although I didn’t understand how an independent, neutral investigation into a question of fact could interfere with (as opposed to positively contribute to) achieving the most just court decision.

After that motion was dismissed in April, I immediately let Angela know we were clear to proceed with the Ombudsman’s informational request to the HRTO, as there was no more risk of “interfering”. But now she went low-profile and even after a couple of reminders and asking whether she was generally OK there was silence. I even filed another application with the Ombudsman, but nobody got back to me on that one, either.

On June 5, just a day before I submitted that 63-page motion record file challenging O’Brien’s dismissal, Angela emailed me asking about the proceeding’s status and whether we should resume what was started in January. She made no apology for her three-month silence – through all my reminders – nor reference to my status update in April asking her to resume. Her email was an uncanny coincidence. I did not tell her about the new motion, only repeating that the one she was afraid of “interfering” with was finished. I also posed a number of questions:

  • “Can you, as an independent unbiased and uninvolved (in the proceedings) ombudsman, validate a simple fact of Form 4A submission?
  • Is there a law that requires an ombudsman to be involved in or at least aware of the related litigation?
  • How can an independent fact discovery possibly interfere with any proceeding (as per how you justified your request before)?
  • Why can this not be treated as a simple administrative complaint of HRTO’s missing a filed form?
  • What/who prompted you to get back to me now (I haven’t heard from you since February even after a couple of reminders and filing another ombudsman request about the same matter for having no other option)?”

I knew I was being a real pest in asking government people to do the apparently impossible – their job. This can be insulting. I hoped Angela did not take it this way but instead thought of my questions as rhetorical, with the obvious respective answers “Yes”, “No”, “It cannot”, “It can”, and “Nothing/nobody”. But on June 18 her terse response (after another pesky reminder from me) read, “I am in the process of reviewing and consulting on your file and I will respond in writing.” To me, that means I won’t hear from the Ontario ombudsman for another while. Prove me wrong, Angela!

Justice Delayed (or Diverted) is Justice Denied

While the misadventures surrounding Form 4A might sound trifling, the fact that something so seemingly trivial can do so much substantive damage to a person’s legal case should sound a warning bell in the reader’s mind. My three-year legal Odyssey illustrates the worsening dysfunction of Canada’s legal system, in particular the widening division between a caste of practitioners who are increasingly unmoored from common sense, their mission of seeing that justice is done for Canadians, or even a basic impulse to deal fairly and humanely with citizens. Principle is gone, or at least secondary; dogma rules. The system seems in love with its own sense of legal cleverness, using legalisms and trickery to avoid dealing with issues of substance. So I have come to conclude.

“Court delays are just the start,” warns Bruce Pardy, Professor of Law at Queen’s University; filled with unnecessary complexities, “the [justice] system is uncertain and unpredictable” and “is becoming a nightmare to navigate for lawyers and clients alike.”

I’m not the only one. Bruce Pardy, Professor of Law at Queen’s University and one of Canada’s foremost legal scholars, has lamented the bogging down of Canada’s court system. “And you thought nothing could be slower than Canadian healthcare,” Pardy wrote in a recent column. “Fifteen minutes in a Toronto courtroom cannot be booked until next May.” And filing a motion, he noted, might not happen for 16 months.

“Canadian society is being choked by its legal system,” Pardy wrote. “Court delays are just the start. Canada has too many laws. Those laws are too complicated. Too many officials have too much discretion to make policies on the fly. Courts, tribunals and agencies make inconsistent decisions. Registrars refuse to file documents for seemingly random reasons. The system is uncertain and unpredictable.” The law, Pardy summarized, “is becoming a nightmare to navigate for lawyers and clients alike.”

Making more Canadians aware of this terrible problem, one that threatens everyone’s right to access and be treated fairly by our justice system, is one of the reasons for this article. The other reason is discussed next.

The Monster Under the Bed

The HRTO’s original decision in February 2023 by adjudicator Eva Nichols that rejected my application concerning the SummerUp program included this assertion: “An allegation of racial discrimination or discrimination on the grounds of colour is not one that can be or has been successfully claimed by persons who are white and non-racialized.” The statement struck me as absurd – among other things, it is itself blatantly discriminatory – as well as callous and inhuman. Also, it was legally incorrect. As I pointed out in Part I: “A group of white employees in B.C. not only won their case against that province’s Human Rights Tribunal but also successfully defended their claim in court that they were unjustly fired due to their ‘wrong’ race.”

Only later did the full toxicity of Nichols’ outrageous statement become clear. (I had nicknamed her “Skippy”, as in Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, as in Kangaroo Court.) Her substantively and legally false assertion has already made its way into the case law, being leveraged in another human rights case to defend Theatre Passe Muraille, a black theatre that prohibits attendance by whites, against a complaint of discrimination. The theatre’s lawyer, Morgan Sim (an activist in “The Equality Effect” feminist network), defended against the allegations by asserting that complainant Robert Stewart, being white, is not entitled to any relief for racial discrimination. Sim cited Nichols’ pronouncement in my case.

Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille’s (top and middle) habit of staging performances that only blacks are allowed to attend may withstand judicial scrutiny thanks to the Human Rights Tribunal’s invention of the legal doctrine that whites cannot seek protection against racial discrimination. Legalized segregation, such as once practised in the southern U.S., had been considered a racist abomination. Shown at bottom, The Rex Theater for Colored People in Leland, Mississippi, in 1937.

This time, the monstrous claim that whites cannot be discriminated against made waves in the media and prompted many people to reach out to me in sympathy and with offers of help. One of these gestures was an independently prepared request, filed last November by the (possibly pseudonymous) David D. Hirsch, for reconsideration of the HRTO’s obscene decision. In mid-May – barely six months later! – Hirsch’s application was, unsurprisingly, rejected by Vice-Chair Cyndee Todgham Cherniak using the familiar “no standing” rationale.

Hirsch’s filing is, however, an important contribution to the conversation. (I incorporated its points almost verbatim into my recent, abovementioned motion record.) Digging into the details of the SummerUp program and the government criteria for special programs of this sort, Hirsch identified a number of legally questionable aspects that should be investigated.

Most important, however, is Hirsch’s vivid insight that the HRTO’s legal finding that whites cannot be discriminated against – now accepted as legal precedent by other HRTO adjudicators – means that 70 percent of Ontarians have thereby been excluded from the protection of the province’s Human Rights Code. This, Hirsch wrote, “places millions of Ontarians at risk.”

As Hirsch pointed out, Nichols’ finding violates the Ontario Human Rights Code itself. As its preamble reads:

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world and is in accord with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as proclaimed by the United Nations;

“And Whereas it is public policy in Ontario to 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 able to contribute fully to the development and well-being of the community and the Province…”

Not only did Nicholls’ decision ignore the law her tribunal exists to uphold, Hirsch pointed out, it also effectively attempted to override the protections against racial discrimination in Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, part of Canada’s Constitution. He also noted that another quasi-judicial organization, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, found that a white person could experience harassment and a poisoned work environment as a result of racialized insults.

A recent submission to the Human Rights Tribunal by David D. Hirsch asserts that the Tribunal’s recent findings have “opened the door to legalized hate and discrimination against a group of people based on their Code-protected traits (race/colour),” and will make it more difficult to legally challenge hateful messages inciting race-motivated murder of white people.

“It is plain and obvious that the Code applies to all races and the claim that jurisprudence indicates otherwise is patently false,” Hirsch wrote in his filing. “The HRTO should investigate [Vice Chair] Nichols for publishing false information.” Even worse, he asserted, “Vice Chair Nichols has opened the door to legalized hate and discrimination against a group of people based on their Code-protected traits (race/colour).” This is more than a theoretical possibility as, he stated in his filing, “Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder Yusra Khogali once tweeted a request to Allah for strength ‘to not cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today.’” The HRTO’s decision, Hirsch concluded, “gives everyone a free legal pass to engage in discrimination and hate.”

I’m very grateful for Hirsch’s efforts. The appalling finding by Nicholls, now echoed in another HRTO decision, to the effect that 70 percent of Ontario’s population is no longer protected by the province’s human rights legislation – that millions of Ontarians are no longer “members of the human family” – must be overturned at once, if necessary through special legislation. I agree with Hirsch’s assertion that Nichols should be removed from the HRTO.

A Whole Universe of SummerUps to Challenge

Just as my misadventures with Form 4A should not be regarded as an isolated procedural quirk but as indicative of the dysfunction of Canada’s legal system, so should my son’s encounter with SummerUp not be misread as a rogue program but as one of a wave of Ontario initiatives exemplifying – and advancing – the new racism in Canadian society. Here are a few examples of Ontario government “investments” in “Supporting the Success of Black Students”:

  • $400,000 to the Lifelong Leadership Institute (author of the SummerUP program which triggered my complaint) to provide programming and activities focused on enhancing arts, academic, entrepreneurship, technology and leadership skills for Canadian youth of Jamaican, African-Caribbean and Black heritage;
  • $200,000 to the Pinball Clemons Foundation to provide comprehensive social, athletic and academic programming and activities to marginalized and racialized youth;
  • $150,000 to Parents of Black Children to deliver its tutoring program in French, Math and English for Black students from Kindergarten to Grade 12; and
  • $50,000 to Jaku Konbit to provide African-Caribbean Black Canadian youth in Ottawa with after-school educational cultural programming.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board, meanwhile, is offering “Graduation Coaches for Black Students” to provide “an affinity space for Black students to feel safe, supported and acknowledged in their school community.” Then there’s “Come Up”, a black internship program which sounds like SummerUp’s cousin. It is designed in partnership with York University “to develop leadership skills for Black students and increase education engagement through skills development, experiential learning, and credit accumulation.” The first topic listed in the program is “positive identity formation and affirmation.”

At the beginning of the school year, the York Region District School Board now makes all parents sign a “School Start-up” form. It references and requires a parent to acknowledge the Board’s Code of Conduct, which among other things encourages racial segregation while bragging about anti-racism. For example, reads Board Procedure #688.1, “Developing identity-affirming, caring and safe school climates especially for students who identify as Indigenous, Black, racialized and 2SLGBTQIA+ are (sic) at the heart of all Board efforts to promote student learning [emphasis added].” How many parents paid attention to what they were agreeing to?

And all of this is just in my neck of the woods.

Learning about these programs during my three-year legal Odyssey has made me wonder whether all of my fellow citizens who might be considered by the government agencies as “racialized” enjoy being treated as if their darker skin were equivalent to having a disability. These programs strike me as deeply patronizing and paternalistic – as if all black people must be assumed to be financially poor, low in skills, passive and helpless.

Same “good old” racism: The author believes that reverse discrimination is based on a hypocritical and patronizing view that people of colour are helpless, passive and implicitly inferior members of society who cannot succeed in life without race-based favoritism and exclusionary programs; many prominent Black Canadians would prove such a position wrong. Left to right, professional athlete and educator Barbara Howard; lawyer and former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Lincoln Alexander; lawyer and MP for Haldimand-Norfolk Leslyn Lewis. (Sources of photos: (left) B.C. Sports Hall of Fame; (right) John Balca, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

If it were me, I would find all of this deeply disturbing. Today’s “reverse discrimination” strikes me as merely a variant on “good old” racial discrimination camouflaged in hypocritical patronage. It is still a group of people in positions of power and influence (many if not most of them white) offering protection and support to people who are regarded (implicitly) as disabled. Isn’t such an attitude deeply offensive to the recipients’ sense of pride and self-respect?

If this essay triggers another Human Rights Tribunal case similar to mine, that alone would justify its writing. And if this is done by a black person challenging one of those “special programs” because of its humiliating nature, that would be a bonus. Only this time the individual can expect meaningful support acquired through my personal experience and the connections I made along the way, including sympathetic organizations willing to ameliorate the financial burden.

Who’s up for a little adventuring in the woke Wonderland?

Gleb Lisikh is a researcher and IT management professional, and a father of three children, who lives in Vaughan, Ontario and grew up in various parts of the Soviet Union.

Source of main image: Illustration Kangaroo Court by Robert ‘Tommy’ Pau.

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Most everyone would agree the political movement led by Pierre Poilievre is not your parents’ Conservative Party. Then again, neither arguably was the government of Stephen Harper. Did the 50s-era populist John Diefenbaker embody “real” conservatism? For that matter, did Sir John A. Macdonald? One man who spent his life struggling to define Canadian conservatism and determine who measured up – and who fell short – was political philosopher George Grant. For Grant, conservatism was rooted in the pushback against the interconnected forces of liberalism, technology and the American superstate. Now, a group of (mostly young) conservatives have taken up the challenge of evaluating whether Grant himself knew what he was talking about, and how his ideas might be applied today. Barry Cooper examines their work.

Malign Neglect: What Calgary’s Water-Main Break Reveals about the Failure of City Government

The rupture of Calgary’s biggest water main revealed more than the problems of aging infrastructure. It showed a civic bureaucracy unable to provide basic services or fix things when they break, and a mayor eager to blame others and scold citizens for their selfishness in wanting city services in return for their tax dollars. Above all, it laid bare the increasing tendency of governments to neglect their core responsibilities in favour of social policy fetishes, and to sidestep accountability when things go wrong. Clear, competent, mission-focused public servants are a vanishing breed, writes George Koch, and governing a city is now mainly about keeping city workers, senior officials and elected politicians happy.

The Fight Against Ottawa’s Crazy and Unconstitutional Single-Use Plastics Ban

In their rush to strike a virtuous blow against plastic waste, the federal Liberals skipped a few important steps. The 2022 ban on plastic straws, shopping bags and other useful household items deliberately ignored the basic facts of waste disposal in Canada, as well as the economic reality of substituting other materials for cheap and effective plastic. What else got overlooked? Canada’s Constitution. With a court hearing set for later this month to decide on the fate of the ban, Christine Van Geyn takes a close look at the legal arguments involved in Ottawa’s efforts to phase out certain plastic items, and the vast constitutional threat this poses if allowed to stand.

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Hush Money: The Untold Dangers and Delusions of Central Bank Digital Currency

Most of us might think that, what with credit cards, e-transfers and online banking, money has pretty much already gone digital. But the Bank of Canada is busily working on a much bigger transformation. Canada is one of more than 100 countries worldwide that are studying, developing or even implementing central bank digital currency (CBDC). CBDC is marketed as a convenient replacement for cash once it disappears from use, as a way to provide access to financial services for the “underbanked,” and as a bulwark against volatile cryptocurrency. Gleb Lisikh untangles this little-known phenomenon and finds that, contrary to its billing, CBDC is both unnecessary and dangerous.

The Promises and Pitfalls of Bitcoin, and the Looming Threat of a Central Bank Digital Currency

For many Canadians, figuring out the differences between a savings account and chequing account is all the banking knowledge they really want. Understanding how Bitcoin works or what a blockchain does seems overwhelming and irrelevant. Yet knowing your way around these digital banking innovations may soon prove vital to protecting your privacy and pushing back against government overreach. Using the experience of last year’s Freedom Convoy as his guide, Gleb Lisikh explains the nuances of cryptocurrencies, their strengths – and weaknesses – as bulwarks against financial censorship and why the Bank of Canada is suddenly so interested in creating its own cashless currency.

ChatGPT: Can it be “Red-Pilled” or is its Worldview Baked in for Life?

Much of the recent panic over artificial intelligence and generative applications like ChatGPT has been over its capacity to fake or supplant real human endeavour: students can use it to write essays, companies can use it to replace workers. But in a world where public discourse is increasingly created and spread by machine, other dangers lurk – like built-in political biases and attempts to manipulate users. Drawing inspiration from The Matrix’s famous red pill that awakened its hero to unsettling reality, Gleb Lisikh pokes at ChatGPT to see if pointed questioning and factual evidence can persuade it to amend its worldview. But if an ability to change opinion based on evidence is part of real intelligence, Lisikh finds, perhaps AI is more artificial than intelligent after all. Part II of a special series. Part I is here.

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