Families claim proceedings at Human Rights Commission of Quebec were biased

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WATCH: A father and his 17-year-old daughter are asking the Quebec government to launch an external investigation into how Quebec's Human Rights Commission handled their complaint. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, the pair alleges the investigator assigned to their case was aggressive and biased – Jul 31, 2018

Eric Tran says he was unfairly treated by an investigator at the Quebec Human Rights Commission.

He says his 17-year-old was expelled unfairly from a high school in the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds in 2017, after being bullied repeatedly.  She doesn’t want to be identified for fear of being ridiculed.

They took the matter to the Human Rights Tribunal of Quebec, where he says he and his daughter were treated with suspicion.

“For 90 minutes she was trying to prosecute the case against us,” he said, “and trying to make us feel bad, and guilty. Before hearing our version, she did not believe in what we had to say to her.”

READ MORE: Quebec schools get failing grade for treatment of students with special needs

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Fo Niemi of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations is representing the family.  He says it seems the investigator heard the school’s side before talking to the family.

“So basically her questions were designed to refute and discredit the claim that the parent and the daughter made in the complaint,” Niemi explained at a news conference.

The family complained to the commission about the investigator’s behavior.  According to Niemi, while that complaint was being looked in to, the investigator in question was handed two more racial discrimination files.  He says the alleged victims in those cases also felt they had been mistreated by the investigator.

READ MORE: Filipina caregiver continues to wait for compensation after Human Rights verdict

“[One was] a young black man with a disability, who was treated with the same aggressive interrogation style that led him to break down in tears halfway through,” said Niemi. “We had to stop the meeting.” The alleged victim was not available to speak to the media.

There was also Asma Al Shawarghi who says she was discriminated against at a store.  According to her, the investigator didn’t interview her witnesses, but spoke to people who supported the store — even though they didn’t witness the alleged instance of discrimination.

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“I had my aunt who was there, and my daughter who was there, but she did not want to listen to them or listen [to] what they had to say,” she explained.

Niemi says he’s never seen a situation like this.

“There’s explicit bias, there’s a lack of balance, there’s a lack of impartiality, there’s a lack of fairness, and the Commission doesn’t seem to do anything about that,” he says.  “So that raises the question: has anything changed at the Commission that led to complaints being so badly treated?”

The Commission told Global News that it can’t comment on individual files.

All three families want an external review of how the investigator handled each case and how the Commission dealt with the complaints.


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