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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 1997

Mary Warner Case Update

In May-July 1993 a Board of Inquiry of the Ontario Human Rights Commission had completed 23 days of hearings when Brock University's lawyers challenged the impartiality of the Chair. A ruling was sought under the Judicial Review Procedure Act to prevent the commission from appointing a new Board of Inquiry and to halt the proceedings due to long delays. The Divisional Court refused Brock's request. The university sought leave to appeal this decision, and leave was denied in June 1996.

In its ruling the Divisional Court stated that Brock was entitled to make submissions to the proper party within the Human Rights system about whether or not the case ought to be reassigned to a new adjudicator. The court did not specify the proper party. Under the legislation in effect when the complaint began, the party empowered to reassign was the Commission. Under the legislation today, the proper party is the Chair of the Board of Inquiry. A case subsequent to Mrs. Warner's held that the power to reassign cases begun under the old law now rested with the Chair, not the Commission.

A conference call with the Chair was held in the fall of 1996, at which time the parties learned for the first time that the Chair did not believe his office was empowered to hear Brock's submissions. Discussions continued through November before it became absolutely clear that neither the Chair not the Commission would hear Brock's submissions. A further judicial review has been instituted to determine which is the proper party to hear Brock. This will probably be another protracted and costly proceeding since Brock proposes to argue the full matter of delay once again.

Although Mrs. Warner believes that the court intended the Chair of the Board of Inquiry, not the Commission, to hear Brock's submissions, she would be content were either to do so. (All she wants now, and all she has ever wanted, is a prompt and fair judgement of her case on its merits.) Once again, through no fault of her own, Mrs. Warner's wish has been cruelly frustrated.

Barring something unforeseen, a new president will take office at Brock University on July 1, 1997. Perhaps he’ll have the decency (and good sense!) to settle this matter and stanch the flow of scarce education dollars to the university’s Toronto lawyers.

Any financial assistance that CAUT members can send will be gratefully received. Mrs. Warner’s costs in this case are staggering. Please forward donations to The Mary Warner Fund, c/o Professor Murray Miles, Department of Philosophy, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1. Such support has always lifted Mrs. Warner’s spirits. Thank you.

For more information and regular updates on the latest developments in the Mary Warner Case, visit the Mary Warner home page:

Background: CAUT Bulletin reports, June 1987, February 1989, June 1992, February 1995, June 1996, September 1996.