July 8th, 2002
I will not argue whether Scott Brokie's ruling was a victory, a partial victory or a defeat for Christians, nor I will argue the ruling from the moral point of view.
I will say, however, that the Brokie's decision was an awful blow to business.
Now there is a precedent where a business, providing a service to the public (few businesses do not), cannot refuse such service without fear.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 15) grants a "right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability".
The relation between a business and a customer was protected by the Charter and by the law as far as criminal behaviour (for example the Charter protects a black or a handicapped person from being refused at a Hotel, or the law may assist a business in getting paid for a service delivered).
If criminal law had not been infringed, the two parties were regulated through voluntary associations, such as the Better Business Bureau.
Now the Courts have intruded into another aspect of our business: a non criminal behaviour (the refusal of a service) has been criminalized for other reasons (i.e. the conflict between the service requested and the "core values" of the person offering the service).
What used to be normal (a business was free to select its customers according to criteria, such as potential for the future, ability to pay, price, friendship, profit, personal preference, etc.) is now potentially "unlawful".
Businesses will have to evaluate whether the refusal of a service based on any criteria could be affecting a group of people enjoying special privileges.
In a dictatorship, such fears are common. A business does not have the luxury to refuse a service to anyone who is related to the regime, a secret policeman, an informer, a politician or any other person enjoying special privileges derived from the power of the dictator.
Now, in Ontario, businesses will have to evaluate whether a customer is potentially an element of special groups, who have super-protection from the government. These groups "must be served" or else a commissioner may appear at your door step.
In case of an argument, another bureaucrat will judge whether there is a conflict between the service requested and the "core values" of your religious beliefs. This person is supposedly going to judge, for each religion, case by case, whether a service could or could not be refused. Do you see government mushrooming to a new level of interference (and cost)?
After going through the courts, Scott Brokie's business lost the $5.000 fine imposed by the OHRC and about $100,000 in legal expenses.
We should not look at this incident in isolation. It is the last in an innumerable series of blows to our freedoms, traditions, values and beliefs. Blows unleashed in the name of tolerance and liberalism by governments devoid of values and disrespectful of individual freedoms.
This type of interference is being legalized under a supposedly "conservative" government. A Liberal or an NDP government would not have made a difference.
I think we should bring down such governments before they bring down our civilization.