Statement made before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
April 14, 2016
By: C. Gwendolyn Landolt
REAL Women of Canada
Re: Access to Justice System, Court Challenges Program (CCP)
REAL Women has had long experience with the previous CCP and its panel on equality rights. Over the years, we have also closely followed the operation of this program.
Although the concept of the CCP is commendable in theory, in reality, from actual experience, we know that there are grave reasons why the program should not be reinstated. At the very least, the appalling defects in the previous CCP must be eliminated if it is reinstated.
The practical effect of the CCP was that the equality rights were undermined by the program and it became one of the most corrupt, discriminatory and biased programs developed in Canada.
Although funded by the taxpayer, the program was not accountable to the public, did not report to Parliament, and was not subject to the Access to Information Act. The program by its biased practices was an embarrassment in that it betrayed human rights and democracy.
Mandate of the CCP
The CCP’s mandate was to assist “disadvantaged” groups in cases that had “legal merit” and promoted “equality” rights for Canadians. This criteria was not defined in the mandate. This omission became the basis of many of the problems with the CCP as it defined these expressions in a ideological basis, which denied access to justice to groups that did not share the ideology of those managing the program.
SPECIFIC PROBLEMS WITH THE CCP
1. Discrimination in the Application of the Definition of Equality
All women believe in equality, but there are different understandings and interpretations of its meaning. To suggest women think alike is to insult the intelligence and integrity of women.
The CCP applied the definition of “equality” based solely on the ideology of feminism, and funded only legal challenges, purportedly on women’s behalf, undertaken by feminist organizations.
For example, the CCP funded the legal arm of the feminist movement, LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund) in 140 cases on a multitude of issues which most women regarded as extreme and unreasonable. By funding feminist organizations only, the funding did not benefit “women” but, rather, benefitted and promoted the feminist lobby, whose views are just a single thread among the many threads that make up the fabric of women’s views.
It was startling, therefore, that in the Minutes of the proceedings of the Committee on March 8th, 2016, Ms. Rachel Wernick, Assistant Deputy Minister at Canadian Heritage reported (page 4) that:
. . . but there was no indication in the evaluations that there was a problem in impartiality.