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1001 Ways to Spend Your Tax Dollars

 

March 24, 2011 | Daniel Kanis

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is becoming quite adept at shoveling your tax dollars out the door. Lawyers in Ottawa were happy to hear that the CHRC is appealing a decision

by the federal Human Rights Tribunal, which dismissed a complaint over First Nations child welfare funding. It’s good for business when two government agencies challenging each other in court over how to spend tax dollars, seeing as how the taxpayer is on the hook for the entire legal tab.

This all started when the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society launched a human rights complaint over child welfare funding on reserves. The Canadian constitution is quite clear that on-reserve funding for social programs is handled by the federal government, while the provincial governments must fund the same programs for everyone else in the province. It goes without saying, then, that the federal government is going to fund the same program differently from the provinces.

To the Caring Society, this represented racial discrimination in provinces where the federal funding formula resulted in lower per-child funding for child welfare programs than the provincial formula. Of course, they claim that the reverse is not true: that it is not discriminatory to fund First Nations programs more than provincial ones.

This is a classic case of expecting to have their cake and eat it too. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal saw it exactly that way, recognizing that the federal government retains the constitutional power to set its own funding levels.

The Commission didn’t like the Tribunal’s decision. They have appealed to the federal court, and look ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. This strikes a familiar chord with anyone who remembers the Court Challenges Program, in which the federal government paid special interest groups to launch challenges against itself, to which federal funds needed to be allocated for legal defence.

It is time to end this abuse of public resources. If the FNCFCS wishes to challenge the government’s policy in federal court, they should do so on their own dime, not the taxpayer’s. If they are successful, it is quite likely that costs would be awarded by the court. If not, then maybe they should be on the hook for wasting public funds. Let that be decided by a judge, and not by a bureaucrat in the Human Rights Commission.

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