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Restraining Equality

Restraining Equality: Human Rights Commissions in Canada

R. Brian Howe
David Johnson
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Restraining Equality
    Book Description:

    The authors blend public policy analysis,historical research, and legal analysis as they address the contemporary financial, social, legal, and policy pressures currently experienced by human rights commissions across Canada.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7927-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-2)

    Since the Second World War, human rights policies have been established in Canada to provide protection against discrimination and to advance equality rights. These policies have been given legal and institutional effect through provincial, federal, and territorial human rights legislation (or antidiscrimination legislation) and through special human rights commissions established to administer and enforce that legislation. The chief responsibilities assigned to these commissions have been to settle complaints of discrimination and to develop programs and launch initiatives in areas such as public education, race relations, and – more recently – systemic discrimination and affirmative action. Their core task has been...

  5. Chapter 1: The Evolution Of Human Rights Legislation
    (pp. 3-36)

    The concept of using human rights legislation as a tool for opposing discrimination first emerged in Canada during the 1940s. It did so against the background of the Second World War, which had done much to generate a surge of egalitarian idealism. This expansion of idealism and equality rights consciousness was not unique to Canada: in varying degrees the concept was taking root in liberal societies everywhere, stimulated by the international struggle against fascism and state-sanctioned racism, and by new postwar standards of human rights. And in Canada, as elsewhere, it created a new principle: that the state had a...

  6. Chapter 2: The Public Administration Of Human Rights
    (pp. 37-69)

    As human rights legislation was expanded, human rights commissions were established and developed to administer and enforce the legislation. These commissions were given a special and at times difficult mandate, in that they were expected to make administrative decisions and implement policy while at the same time embracing the rigours and protections of judicial decision-making. This called for close attention to both policy direction and procedural detail.

    We will now discuss the origins and design of human rights commissions and their related adjudicative structures. We will begin by reviewing the debate over whether human rights policy and law should be...

  7. Chapter 3: Fiscal Restraint
    (pp. 70-100)

    The evolution of human rights legislation was double-edged. On the one hand, the development was expansionary, which had operational implications for the commissions. As human rights protections were broadened across the country, so were the mandates and functions of commissions, and this increased their workloads significantly. On the other hand, because of government policies of fiscal restraint during the 1980s and 1990s, the commissions found it much more difficult to handle their increased workloads. The commissions needed more funding to carry out their expanded mandates, and they were not getting it. This need was related not only to the growing...

  8. Chapter 4: Coping With Restraint
    (pp. 101-134)

    As we saw in Chapter 3, todayʹs human rights commissions face an administrative environment marked by underfunding and fiscal restraint. At the same time, most commissions have seen their legislative mandates remain stable, when they have not increased in breadth and complexity. As a result, commissions are facing increasing criticism from rights advocates, and are seeking ways to improve their ʹservice delivery.ʹ

    In this chapter we will consider how financial restraint has affected human rights commissions and how these agencies are coping with this reality. We will start with a theoretical debate regarding the best means for government bodies to...

  9. Chapter 5: The Paradox Of Human Rights Policy
    (pp. 135-168)

    Developments in human rights legislation have led to a paradox. We live in a society that is highly rights-conscious, that values human freedom and equality and is dedicated to the proposition that discrimination on the basis of immutable personal characteristics is morally wrong. From these beliefs has emerged a body of public policy and law designed to entrench and promote human rights policies and to attack, and hopefully lessen, the incidence of social discrimination. Yet despite this demonstrable political interest in advancing equality rights, the policies guiding the legislation seem not to be working.

    Despite the reforms discussed in Chapter...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 169-188)
  11. Index
    (pp. 189-193)