More than month after closing arguments, the BC Human Rights Tribunal has yet to decide if comedian Guy Earle violated the BC Human Rights code when he allegedly targeted Lorna Pardy and her girlfriend with sexist and homophobic insults at Zesty’s.
But tribunal member Murray Geiger-Adams has released a decision in response to three applications Earle made to the tribunal.
Geiger-Adams denied all of Earle’s requests including: an application to determine whether the tribunal had jurisdiction before hearing evidence on the merits of the complaint; permission to give testimony via telephone; and an application to ask the BC Supreme Court if section 8 of the BC Human Rights Code is an unconstitutional limitation of Earle’s free speech protected by the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
In his reasons, Geiger-Adams says splitting the hearing into first a jurisdictional question and then a hearing on the evidence would have saved little or no time and greatly inconvenienced many witnesses by requiring them to testify twice.
With regards to Earle’s application to testify by phone, Geiger-Adams says Earle did not explain why his employer would be inconvenienced by his presence in Vancouver.
“He does not particularize or provide any material to support his estimate of his costs, or to refute Ms Pardy’s estimate of the cost of flights and hotels, and he does not explain what he means by ‘family support’ or why it has a monetary cost,” Geiger-Adams writes in the ruling.
“In all of the circumstances, I am persuaded that the prejudice to Ms Pardy of allowing Mr Earle’s application outweighs any prejudice to him in denying it,” Geiger-Adams decided.
With regards to the constitutional question, Geiger-Adams says he had no jurisdiction to grant Earle’s application and therefore declined to do so.
“How can they deny a decision brought down by the Supreme Court?” said Earle upon first hearing the decision decrying it as a waste of tax dollars. “This is hilarious! Push has got to come to shove! This is unreal!
“I really can’t read this stuff because it sends me off into never-never land,” he told Xtra on May 20. “We have people dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have better things to spend out tax money on.
“Whatever their findings are it’s illegal,” he continued. “I don’t recognise their findings.”
Earle believes the incident highlights an important conflict between human rights protection and freedom of speech in Canada.
“I believe that we’ve uncovered, my lawyer has uncovered, a contradiction between the Charter and Human Rights Code. I say there’s a contradiction here and the Charter of Canada takes precedence.”
Earle says the process of preparing for and going through the tribunal hearing over the last three years has been costly.
“It’s been costly in more ways than financial,” he notes. “I pay my lawyer what I can. He’s really supportive too. I have a limited amount of financial support from donors on a website.”
Earle’s lawyer, Jim Millar, will challenge the constitutionality of the case before the BC Supreme Court on June 15.
“We are asking the Supreme Court to find the tribunal in contempt,” Earle says. “That’s going to be the real story.”