Complaint against press gallery goes to court

A human rights complaint involving the P.E.I. legislative assembly’s press gallery has made its way to the courts after the defendants filed an application for a judicial review.

Wayne Thibodeau, Charlottetown Guardian reporter, named in Human Rights complaint for discrimination on the basis of association, physical or intellectual disability, and source of income. (Facebook photo)

Charlottetown Guardian – In 2010, Stephen Pate filed a complaint with the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission alleging members of the P.E.I. legislative assembly press gallery discriminated against him because of his disability.

Guardian reporters Wayne Thibodeau and Teresa Wright were also named in the complaint, along with CBC producer Donna Allen, who were all members of the press gallery.

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They denied the allegations of discrimination.

The application for a judicial review was filed April 29 after P.E.I. Human Rights Commission chair Anne Nicholson overturned an earlier decision to dismiss the complaint. 

The judicial review request is asking a P.E.I. Supreme Court judge to overturn that decision and revert back to the executive director’s decision to dismiss Pate’s complaint.

None of the allegations have been proven in court or before a human rights panel.

Editors note – the main reason CBC and the Charlottetown Guardian are going to court is to stop the Human Rights process. They likely don’t want to the public to know the details of the complaint that they discriminated against a journalist with a disability and tried to stifle free speech and a free press on Prince Edward Island.

Related stories –

CBC kills story about Human Rights complaint by wheelchair-bound journalist

Eastern Graphic – Media wrong in Pate-gate

Sidebar – PEI Human Rights Commission – Pate v Thibodeau, Wright, Allen and Press Gallery of the PEI Legislature

PEI HRC Complaint against press gallery goes to court photo

Complaint – On October 19, 2010 Stephen Pate (complainant) filed a complaint against The Press Gallery of the PEI Legislature and Wayne Thibodeau (Guardian), Teresa Wright (Guardian) and Donna Allen (CBC) (respondents) alleging discrimination in employment and membership in a professional organization on the basis of association, physical or intellectual disability, and source of income.

Pate is self represented and the complaint runs over 330 pages with more than 200 exhibits, including an audio recording of the meeting which forms the basis of the complaint. During the meeting, the respondents stated 10 times they objected to an advocate, or lobbyist as they called it, for a disability organization in their membership.

Important dates – On November 2, 2012 the Executive Director of the PEI Human Rights Commission (PEI HRC) dismissed the complaint because he found it had no merit.

On December 2, 2012, Pate filed a request for a review by the Chairperson of the PEI Human Rights Commission.

On April 4th, the Chair of the PEI HRC issued her ruling that the executive director was in error and that their was enough evidence to call for a Human Rights Panel under the PEI Human Rights Act.

Before that panel could be organized, the respondents, represented by a CBC and Guardian appointed lawyer, filed a motion on to cancel the human rights panel. This is a legal tactic to delay, stall or end the human rights process.

The court can refuse to hear the judicial review until after the public panel hearing, send the decision back to the Chair of the PEI HRC, stay all proceedings, among other decisions.

This sidebar is summary of the Complaint and is not a complete legal statement of the complaint. Specific details of the complaint and response are confidential until they are revealed in court or at a human rights panel.

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