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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 1998

Jazairi Case Heads to Court of Appeal

Thirteen years ago Nuri Jazairi, a professor of economics at York University, was denied a promotion to full professor. Professor Jazairi believed the denial stemmed from his open support for the people of Palestine. After exhausting internal appeals at York, he filed a discrimination complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Although the Commission agreed that Professor Jazairi had been treated unfairly, perhaps because of his political beliefs, it refused to hear the complaint. The Commission held that "creed," the ground of discrimination advanced by the professor, encompassed only religious, and not political, beliefs. The Divisional Court upheld this ruling.

Now Professor Jazairi has taken his long struggle to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The appeal could be heard as early as February or March 1999. Professor Jazairi will argue that the term "creed" includes political beliefs and that, in any event, the omission of explicit reference to "political beliefs" in the Ontario Human Rights Code contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Both York University Faculty Association and CAUT have obtained intervenor status in the appeal. "In the university setting where academic freedom is a paramount concern, a professor's political beliefs should have no bearing on his or her career prospects. We will fight to ensure they enshrine this fundamental principle in the Human Rights Code," said Professor Pat O'Neill, chair of CAUT's Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee.

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