On January 14, 2020, Premier Doug Ford seemingly circumvented the provincial appointment process to appoint two people to sit as Commissioners with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). A Commissioner’s role is to govern the OHRC and to provide it with strategic direction. The OHRC is supposed to be an independent and impartial organization that ensures all Ontarians are free from discrimination. The OHRC’s independence from government and impartiality are necessary componentsfor it to fulfill its mandate in a credible way.
According to a Toronto Star report, though the Public Appointments Secretariat received 300 applications from people wishing to serve on the Commission, the two individuals appointed on January 14 were, it was reported, not part of the pool of applicants shared with the Chief Commissioner for her review, which is standard procedure. As a result, it is unclear whether the individuals actually applied for the positions to which they have been appointed.
If they did not, to say that this is problematic is an understatement. If they did not, all those who value human rights and believe in the importance of the human rights system should be enraged. We at BLAC, as members of the Black community are alarmed, and extremely concerned, about the integrity of the OHRC and its ability to combat racism, anti–Black racism and all other forms of discrimination in this province. We should all be extremely concerned about Ford’s utter disregard to ensure representation of the diverse communities in this province on the governing body of the OHRC.