The Ms. Conover issue – update #2

Many people are still unclear about this not necessarily being a human rights issue (as posted below). Today, I posted the following comment on my own facebook note to help clarify:

The following excerpt from the OHRC website may make things clearer:

“You have the right to be free from discrimination that is:

* in a specific social area such as jobs, housing and services, and

* because of a ground protected by the Code, such as race, handicap or sex.

Your rights under the Code are not violated if you only have a social area or only have a ground. For example, the Code does not apply if a stranger on the street insults you by making a racist comment because this did not happen in a specific social area. The Code will also not apply if you feel you are being treated differently in your job due to a personality conflict with your manager because there is no ground.”

(source: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/resources/Guides/
GuideHRcode2?page=GuideHRcode2-PART.html#Heading53):

Based on this, I would say Ms. Conover only has a ground (religious practices and beliefs) and not necessarily a social area (such as employment).

Additionally, I’ve addressed the idea that since the pageant is a public event, then this is a human rights violation by not allowing Ms. Conover to be a judge. Here were my comments on this:

No one’s disputing Ms. Murray’s actions. What you have to understand is that it is not a “public service”, which is a service offered through a governmental body or agency (a few examples would be government housing and employment insurance). Therefore, it does not necessarily fall under a human rights violation. The fact that the event is offered to the general populace and takes place in a public venue does not mean it is a “public service”. (Many people often confuse the meaning of “public” as it is used to refer to some businesses – not all businesses are “public corporations” – as well as government services.)

Again, I must state that being invited to be a pageant judge is not the same as being hired. It is as yet unclear if she was being offered a job or simply being asked to attend as a “honoured judge”, the latter being cited in news sources as the case.

Here’s clarification on the meaning of the word “public” as it is used in different legal contexts:

1) public service – refers to a service offered through the government, whether municipal, provincial, or federal

2) public corporation – refers to a business that has become “incorporated” (incorporation gives a business certain rights, one of which is that the incorporation is considered a “person” under the law) and has offered shares of the corporation to public

Not all corporations are public as not all offer shares to the public. Where a business becomes incorporated and does not offer its shares to the public, it is a “private corporation”.

Non-profit organizations (NPOs) may become incorporated. They do not offer shares to the public, though they may provide services to the public. They operate slightly differently and are governed by a different statute than profit corporations . Some people mistakenly call NPOs “public organizations”, which is not a useful term.

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