COURT OF APPEAL HEARING INTO THE GALLARDO-CAGADOC CASE: SERIOUS IMPACT ON ACCESS TO JUSTICE EXPECTED
Montreal, January 14, 2012 --- Montreal, January 14, 2012 --- The Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board appeal of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal decision on the Maria Gallardo/Luc Cagadoc case will be heard on Thursday, February 9th, 2012.
In 2010, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Luc Cagadoc and his mother, Maria Gallardo, had been discriminated against by the School Board and its officials, after the boy was disciplined for eating with a spoon and exposed to derogatory remarks based on his ethnic origin. The School Board and two of its officials were ordered to pay Ms. Gallardo and her son $17,000.
The School Board appealed the decision on the basis that the case was partially dismissed by the Quebec Human Rights Commission for lack of evidence, and that the Tribunal could not review and address aspects of the case that the Commission had ruled as non-discriminatory. Ms. Gallardo's position is that the Commission did not properly investigate important facts which were brought to its attention, especially previous incidents of bias and the systemic discrimination within the school and school board. Furthermore, the facts are so interconnected that the full context needs to be examined in order to fully understand the discrimination against Ms. Gallardo and her son.
In recent years, the Human Rights Commission has adopted the practice of referring certain cases to the Tribunal, where victims or complainants can go at their own expense, if it feels the case is not of important public interest and if victims have the means to represent themselves.
The Gallardo case will have a significant impact for victims of discrimination and their ability to use the civil rights system in Quebec. In 1997, the courts ruled that once a Human Rights Commission has completely dismissed a case, a victim or complainant cannot apply to the Tribunal for redress. Redress is a specialized tribunal to which only the commission can refer cases of discrimination. Victims can still turn to regular courts but at their own expense.
Since the Gallardo case involves a partial dismissal of the complaint, a particular is for the Court of Appeal is whether a victim, whose case is partially dismissed by the Commission, can still present all the evidence before the Tribunal as part of his or her right to a full and fair hearing. This is especially the case where the facts are interconnected and the evidence before the Tribunal contains facts that have never been examined by the commission due to faulty investigation.
The case also illustrates the fundamental deficiency of addressing systemic racism in Quebec. Since the creation of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal in Quebec, the Human Rights Commission has never been able to bring a systemic racism case before it.
Members of the local Filipino community, civil rights groups and other interested persons as well as the media are invited to attend the hearing.
The appeal will be heard on Thursday, February 9th, 2012, at 9:30 am, at the Court of Appeal of Quebec, 100 Notre-Dame East, Gilles Mignault Room.