Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion takes an­other look

The Compass - - Front page - Edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Former Spa­niard’s Bay coun­cil­lor Brenda Sey­mour won a Supreme Court chal­lenge con­cern­ing her com­plaint to the provin­cial Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

The New­found­land and Labrador Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion has been or­dered to take an­other look at a former Spa­niard’s Bay town coun­cil­lor’s com­plaint.

Brenda Sey­mour, a lo­cal fire­fighter who most re­cently served on coun­cil prior to the 2017 gen­eral elec­tion, took the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the com­mis­sion to court over the lat­ter’s de­ci­sion in Novem­ber of last year to dis­miss her com­plaint, which had been filed in May of 2017. The com­mis­sion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor in­di­cated the com­plaint was out­side the time limit pre­scribed un­der the provin­cial Hu­man Rights Act.

Sey­mour had pre­vi­ously made pub­lic al­le­ga­tions of ha­rass­ment stem­ming from her in­volve­ment with the lo­cal vol­un­teer fire depart­ment. The town even­tu­ally com­mis­sioned a re­port pre­pared by a re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer who found the be­hav­iour of the fire­fight­ers did not con­sti­tute bul­ly­ing, ha­rass­ment or in­tim­i­da­tion. Sey­mour elected not to par­tic­i­pate in the re­port as she ques­tioned its im­par­tial­ity.

In her com­plaint to the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, Sey­mour out­lined her ex­pe­ri­ences with the depart­ment while also re­count­ing cir­cum­stances re­sult­ing from the re­lease of the re­port com­mis­sioned by the town she found to be un­set­tling. In Oc­to­ber of that year, she pro­vided fur­ther cor­re­spon­dence to the com­mis­sion about a so­cial me­dia post the lo­cal fire chief made af­ter her elec­tion de­feat that Sey­mour felt rev­eled in her loss and hinted at a de­sire on the chief’s part to have her leave the depart­ment.

Last Novem­ber, the com­mis­sion in­formed Sey­mour it was dis­miss­ing her case on grounds the com­plaint fell out­side the 12-month time lim­i­ta­tion.

New­found­land and Labrador Supreme Court Jus­tice Deb­o­rah Pa­que­tte ul­ti­mately dis­agreed. In a writ­ten de­ci­sion dated Oct. 24, she said the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the com­mis­sion made an un­rea­son­able de­ci­sion given she ne­glected to in­quire about Sey­mour post-elec­tion com­plaint from the fall of 2017.

Jus­tice

Pa­que­tte went on to write, “I am per­suaded that these words used by the Fire Chief could con­note the pos­si­bil­ity of ac­tions which may or may not con­sti­tute gen­der ha­rass­ment when con­sid­ered in the con­text of the other al­le­ga­tions set out in the Com­plaint Form, yet this was never fol­lowed up with him or oth­ers.”

Through the Supreme Court case, Sey­mour was also look­ing for the town to pro­vide mone­tary com­pen­sa­tion, is­sue a pub­lic apol­ogy and with­draw the re­port pre­pared by the re­tired of­fi­cer from pub­li­ca­tion. Jus­tice Pa­que­tte de­nied those re­quests, not­ing such re­lief was “not avail­able in an ap­pli­ca­tion for ju­di­cial re­view.”

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Former Spa­niard’s Bay coun­cil­lor Brenda Sey­mour has won a Supreme Court chal­lenge against the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the New­found­land and Labrador Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

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