On the Right(s) Path: A Study of Human Rights Law and Practice in British Columbia

  • Author / Creator
    Arkinstall, Matthew A.
  • Canada’s anti-discrimination legal regime is among the oldest and most established in the world. In this thesis, I examine those human rights institutions in Canada that were created to enforce anti-discrimination statutes to determine which system is more accessible to people from marginalized populations. Human rights legislation works to disrupt discrimination through the administration of human rights complaints and through human rights education. Human rights institutions have, however, faced a backlash since the 1980s from the media and prominent political figures that challenge the legitimacy of the commission system. As a result, some jurisdictions have replaced the commission system that has been a cornerstone of the Canadian human rights landscape since the 1970s. Both British Columbia and Ontario have implemented the direct-access system. In this thesis, I analyze which system is more accessible to people from marginalized populations using British Columbia. British Columbia is the ideal choice for comparative research of this nature because the provincial government has switched between both systems multiple times since the 1960s.
    In order to determine which system is more accessible to people from marginalized groups, I analyze data from government-sponsored reports which have been produced in multiple jurisdictions in Canada. These reports contained information on how to improve the accessibility of human rights institutions. Furthermore, I examine annual reports produced by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal from 2006 to 2016 and the British Columbia Human Rights Commission from 1996 to 2002. The statistical data derived from these reports supports the contention that the commission is more accessible than the direct-access model. In sum, based on the data from these reports as well as a detailed review of a dozen expert reports on human rights institutions in Canada, I argue that the commission system is more accessible to people from marginalized populations than the direct-access system.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.