Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, October 4, 2018 — The Government of Canada should make racial and ethnic diversity a fundamental criterion in its appointment of members of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In response to the latest appointment of part-time Commissioner Rachel Leck that was announced last month, CRARR considers that the federal government and Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould have missed, yet again, another major opportunity to make the team of Commissioners more representative of Canada’s diversity.

The Commission is composed of a full-time Chief Commissioner and a full-time Deputy Chief Commissioner, and between three to six other Commissioners, who are often part-time. All members are appointed by the federal Cabinet.

The July 2018 appointment of part-time Commissioner Diana Scarth, and the appointment of Commissioner Leck show that the preferred demographics seem to be white women.

“Sadly, many of us can’t recall the last time a person of color was appointed to the federal Commission. That’s how bad it is,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.

“Just like the Federal Court of Canada, which is still regrettably not racially integrated, the Canadian Human Rights Commission as presently constituted does not look like Canada of 2018,” Niemi stated. “The lack of racial diversity is seen in many communities as a broken promise on the part of the federal government to make its agencies inclusive and representative. The Government often talks of diversity and inclusion, but it does not walk the talk in this case,” he added.

“Chief Commissioner Marie-Claude Landry has shown leadership in giving the Commission a more human face and voice, and in making it more present in different forums. However, the agency may still be seen as being far removed from the very communities affected by discrimination, and the voices and experiences of many Canadians of color are absent at the table where key policies and cases are decided,” he added.

CRARR calls on Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould to pay special attention to the appointment of Black Canadians to the Commission, and to every other justice-related agencies under her authority, as one concrete way to show the Canadian Government’s support for the International Decade for People of African Descent, especially where the commitment to “adopt measures to enable the full, equal and effective participation of people of African descent in public and political affairs without discrimination” is concerned.

According to data from the Commission, 48% of complaints received in 2017 involved discrimination based on race, ethnicity and color.