Vaughan MP Julian Fantino could be hauled before a human rights tribunal, once again, to defend his firing of a First Nations police chief without a hearing back when he was OPP commissioner.
Lawyers for Lawrence Hay on Monday called on Divisional Court to quash a previous Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruling that his axing by Mr. Fantino had nothing to do with his aboriginal status and order a new hearing.
Mr. Hay’s lawyers set out to prove that “the (tribunal) took a compartmentalized approach to the evidence that avoided consideration of whether, based on the totality of the evidence, race was a factor,” according to the factum.
Ultimately, Mr. Hay is hoping this legal battle will end with him getting his old job back.
“His view is that his firing was discriminatory on the basis of race and he should be reinstated,” said Peter Rosenthal, a lawyer for Mr. Hay.
But lawyers for the province and Mr. Fantino have argued the tribunal’s decision was correct, and there’s no evidence anything Mr. Fantino did was motivated by racism.
Mr. Fantino, who is also minister for Veterans Affairs, and the OPP declined to comment on the court proceedings.
Mr. Hay had spent 19 years with the Mounties when he left to take up a post as chief of police of the Tyendinaga First Nation in eastern Ontario in 1998.
As required under provincial law, the OPP commissioner first appointed him as a First Nations constable.
During a protest in April 2007, Mr. Hay complained about police racism in an article published in a student newspaper.
“I realized just what a racist organization the RCMP was, and I came here to learn that the OPP and the (Surete du Quebec) ... are no different,” he told the paper.
“It’s deep-seated racism.”
In light of the comments, Mr. Fantino suspended then revoked Mr. Hay’s appointment as a First Nations constable in October 2007, effectively ending his position as chief.
Normally, police officers in Ontario charged with misconduct have a right to a full hearing along with extensive rights of appeal under the Police Services Act.
Not so for First Nations officers, a fact criticized by the Ipperwash Inquiry into the police killing of Dudley George. The inquiry concluded that racism was a problem within the provincial police force.
Mr. Hay argued unsuccessfully before the human rights tribunal that the different rules for aboriginal and non-aboriginal officers are discriminatory.
A great deal of time was spent on that issue in court on Monday, Mr. Rosenthal said.
The original tribunal hearing also held that Mr. Fantino’s failure to consult the band before suspending Mr. Hay was because of a decision to “act quickly.”
Mr. Hay argues his assertions of police racism were protected under the human rights code and Mr. Fantino’s actions were retaliatory.
In response, Mr. Fantino’s lawyer points out Mr. Hay’s statement came during a volatile situation involving aboriginal land disputes and protests in the province.
The lawyer also maintains Mr. Hay refused to co-operate with the investigation and nothing Mr. Fantino did was the result of racism or discrimination.
It was also noted the band’s chief disapproved of Mr. Hay’s comments.
The court could take a couple of weeks, or possibly several months, to issue its decision, according to lawyers involved in the proceedings.
Should the court order another complete tribunal hearing, Mr. Fantino will “undoubtedly” be called to take the stand, Mr. Rosenthal said.http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/44 ... -tribunal/http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/nat ... e18292622/