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Human Rights Tribunal of Quebec
The Human Rights Tribunal of Quebec is a specialized first instance tribunal of the province of Quebec, in Canada, that has the jurisdiction to hear and judge litigations concerning discrimination and harassment based on the prohibited grounds stipulated in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, as well as concerning the exploitation of elderly or handicapped persons and affirmative action programs.
The Human Rights Tribunal was created in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (Quebec Charter).
The Tribunal was in fact born on December 10, 1990, pursuant to the Loi modifiant la Charte des droits et libertés de la personne concernant la Commission et instituant le Tribunal des droits de la personne, tabled in the National Assembly by Gil Rémillard, then Minister of Justice of Quebec, and adopted on June 22, 1989. This law modified the mechanism that ensured the protection of rights and freedoms in the Province, consisting solely of the Commission des droits de la personne at the time (in 1995, the Commission des droits de la personne became the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse). The purpose of this law was to correct the difficulties highlighted in a 1988 report filed by the Committee on Institutions of the National Assembly, notably the restrictive interpretation of the Charter by the ordinary courts, the delays at the Commission as well as the contradictory roles assumed by the Commission.
In 1990, the Government of Quebec appointed the Honourable Michèle Rivet, judge of the Court of Quebec, as President of the Human Rights Tribunal. She presided the Tribunal until 2010. The Honourable Michèle Pauzé subsequently presided the Tribunal from 2010 to 2014. As of September 1, 2014, the Honourable Ann-Marie Jones assumes the presidency of the Human Rights Tribunal.
Since its creation, the Tribunal had rendered numerous judgments concerning new questions of law, including:
In order to facilitate “the development and elaboration of critical legal thinking in areas which fall under its jurisdiction” and to improve the protection of Human Rights in, the Tribunal has, over the years, organized several seminars in partnership with the legal community:
- October 10, 1991: The Tribunal rendered its first decision concerning the integration of a disabled child into the school system;
- March 26, 1992: The Tribunal rendered a significant decision regarding sexual harassment;
- May 13, 1994: The Tribunal rendered a decision regarding exploitation of the elderly, the first of its kind in ;
- September 11, 2008: The Tribunal, in the case Gaz Métropolitain deemed that the women were victims of systemic discrimination;
- February 9, 2011: The Tribunal rendered a decision regarding the obligation of state religious neutrality in the case of prayer recitation at the Municipal Council meeting of the city of Saguenay;
- April 18, 2012: The Tribunal rendered its first judgment on racial profiling involving the city of Montreal and the SPVM;
- May 31, 2012: The Tribunal’s first case concerning an employment affirmative action program;
- July 20, 2016: The Tribunal rendered judgment in a case, opposing comedian Mike Ward and singer Jérémy Gabriel, that involved a conflict between two fundamental rights: the interdiction to discriminate based on a disability and the freedom of expression, notably in the context of artistic expression.
- The Human Rights Tribunal and the Société québécoise de droit international, Access to a Specialized Human Rights Tribunal: an Urgent Need to Act in ? (Direct Access of Individuals to Human Rights International and National Tribunals), Marriott Hotel Springhill Suites, Montreal, October 24, 2002;
- Human Rights Tribunal and Bar of Quebec, “La Charte des droits et libertés de la personne : Pour qui et jusqu’où? ” (The Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms: For Whom and How Far?), Intercontinental Hotel, April 28–29, 2005;
- Human Rights Tribunal and Bar of Quebec, Access to a Specialized Human Rights Tribunal: an Urgent Need to Act in ?, Intercontinental Hotel, November 22–23, 2007;
- Human Rights Tribunal and Bar of Quebec, “Race, femme, enfant, handicap : Les conventions internationales et le droit interne à la lumière des enjeux pratiques du droit à l’égalité” (Race, Woman, Child, Disability: International Conventions in the Context of Practical Issues concerning the Right to Equality); Centre Mont-Royal, March 25–26, 2010;
- Human Rights Tribunal and Bar of Quebec, “Le Tribunal des droits de la personne : 25 ans d’expérience en matière d’égalité” (The Human Rights Tribunal: 25 years of experience in matters of equality), Intercontinental Hotel, Montreal, October 23, 2015.
- April 1, 2015: The Honourable Ann-Marie Jones delivered a speech during the Conseil général du Barreau;
- June 11, 2015, the Tribunal animated a workshop at the Bar of Quebec’s Annual Congress;
- September 10, 2015: The Honourable Ann-Marie Jones delivered a speech during the Ceremony of the Journée du Barreau. The ceremony highlighted the new judicial year 2015-2016;
- October 23, 2015: The Tribunal, in partnership with the Bar of Quebec, organized a seminar entitled “Le Tribunal des droits de la personne : 25 ans d’expérience en matière d’égalité” (The Human Rights Tribunal: 25 years of Experience in Matters of Equality).
- Foster a consensus among the members concerning the general orientations of the Tribunal;
- Coordinate the work of the Tribunal and distribute it among the members;
- Prescribe a Code of ethics and ensure that it is observed;
- Adopt, with the assistance of the majority of the members, a regulation of procedure applicable to the Tribunal.
Discrimination (section 10 of the Quebec Charter): Direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, systemic discrimination and discriminatory profiling;
- Discriminatory harassment (section 10.1 of the Quebec Charter);
- Exploitation of elderly and/or disabled persons (section 48 of the Quebec Charter); and
Affirmative Action Programs (section 86 of the Quebec Charter and the Act Respecting Equal Access to Employment in Public Bodies).
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