KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Former firefighter Liane Tessier, who recently received an apology from the Halifax fire chief, is not happy with the wording of a press release about her case posted on the website of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
“I don’t trust the Human Rights Commission, and I don’t think other people should trust them,” Tessier tells the Nova Scotia Advocate, reflecting on the lack of support from the Commission she experienced while she fought for justice.
While employed at the Halifax Fire Services Tessier suffered systemic gender discrimination and was treated just horribly by colleagues, chiefs, the city’s management, and HRM’s human resources department.
The thing is, after she issued a human rights complaint in 2007 she was treated equally horribly by the Human Rights Commission. After five years of almost cartoonishly mismanaging the investigation, the Commission decided that Tessier’s claim had no merit and should not be pursued.
Tessier had no choice but to take the Commission to court.
At the Nova Scotia Supreme Court Tessier argued that Human Rights Commission investigators took too long (five years) to reach a decision, did a bad job investigating, and were wrong to dismiss her case.
Justice Arthur LeBlanc of the Nova Scotia Supreme court agreed on all counts. Key witnesses were not heard, there were numerous delays, and investigators showed bias against Tessier throughout, LeBlanc concluded in May of 2014. The Commission was ordered to pay damages to Tessier, and to re-start the investigation from scratch.
Now that three and a half years later Tessier finally received a (wishy washy) apology from HRM, the Human Rights Commission issued a press release that doesn’t mention that court case and doesn’t acknowledge its far from stellar role in her victory.
“They use a quote that they got from my blog that makes it sound like we were a happy family fighting together for the same goal, while they were against me for all these years,” Tessier says.
Tessier complained in an email, and as a result her quote has since been removed from the news release.
In the press release the Commission refers to the 10 years it took to resolve the case.
“We’re sorry that Ms. Tessier had to go through such a lengthy process in order for this matter to come to resolution,” the release quotes Kymberly Franklin, Senior Legal Counsel at the NSHRC as saying.
Phrased that way it reads as if the delay was just one of those things that can’t be helped, like the weather. Tessier isn’t buying it.
“They fought tooth and nail against me having that judicial review, and by doing that they perpetuated the gender discrimination. They’re every bit as bad as HRM,” Tessier says.
We asked the Human Rights Commission to respond on Monday morning. We will update this story to reflect that response when we receive it.
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