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CBC Blocks Human Rights Hearing
The CBC has filed a court application in the PEI Supreme Court to stop a Human Rights Panel hearing into a complaint of disability discrimination against a local journalist with a disability.
By: PEI Disability Alert
Stephen Pate, an internet journalist, filed a complaint against CBC News producer Donna Allen and other members of the Press Gallery of the PEI Legislature after they took away his press pass in October 2009.
Pate says the CBC wanted him out of the press gallery since NJN Network was a vocal critic of the CBC’s media bias.
A year later Pate filed a human rights complaint, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability and association with PEI Disability Alert, a disability advocacy non-profit.
On April 4, 2013, the PEI Human Rights Commission granted Pate the right to a hearing into his complaint. Pate alleges that when Donna Allen and other CBC journalists voted him out of the Press Gallery it amounted to discrimination on the basis of disability and association with a disability advocacy organization.
“The issue for that stood out for me,” said CBC producer Allen in October 2009, was that “you consider yourself (a) lobbyist or an advocate for a special interest group that would be people with disabilities.”
Allen was one of 11 Press Gallery members, including CBC journalists and cameramen, who ejected Pate for his volunteer disability advocacy.
Alan Parish, the lawyer for the CBC and its employees, is asking the PEI Court to reverse the decision of Anne Nicholson, Chairperson of the Prince Edward Island Human Rights Commission. CBC has asked the court to dismiss the Complaint before the Human Rights Panel hears any evidence.
If the CBC is successful, Pate’s allegations of human rights abuse by the CBC will never be heard in public.
“It’s shocking. They should be ashamed of themselves and it speaks to a lack of respect for people with disabilities, a lack of education coupled with excessive arrogance,” said an international lawyer with North American and European experience referring to CBC’s opposition to the Human Rights hearing.
“(You) have a real case that may set an interesting precedent not only for PEI but for the rest of the country,” the unnamed source added. “It’s also a good fight so that other disabled people don’t have to go through that kind of behaviour.”
“What galls me,” said Pate “CBC and other local media tried to make my work impossible. Meanwhile in Ontario, the Prime Minister was praising David Onley, an Ontario journalist, who was a member of the Ontario Press Gallery and a disability advocate.”
CBC President Hubert LaCroix refused to comment on CBC’s motion to stop to the Human Rights Panel, referring the matter to their lawyers.
PEI Disability Alert is a not-for-profit advocacy organization that provides public education about the status of PEI’s 25,000 persons living with disabilities. Stephen Pate is a founding director.