Misplaced HRTO Faith: 10 Years Ostracized

Misplaced Faith in the HRTO:
10 years Ostracized

Saturday, March 26, 2022, was 10 years since I signed a deal with Horizon Utilities in the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). It has been an ordeal. It has affected my employment for 12 years, and this was after I resigned from my position with Horizon Utilities in September 2010 as the HRTO complaint made my work environment untenable. I have never shared my story of what it is like to be involved with the HRTO.

  1. This is a never shown before reference letter negotiated as part of the settlement. The reference letter is dated Saturday, March 24, 2012. I did not discover that date until later and the discovery made me wonder about the HRTO representative who said he was negotiating the letter with Horizon’s representatives during the March 26 hearing come settlement negotiation. 
  2. The complaint stemmed from a manager opening a meeting with a stupid Newfie Joke. Newfie jokes have always reminded me that I do not belong in Ontario. They remind me of my first experience in Ontario. After being laid off from a teaching job in Newfoundland in 1995 my wife and I left on the last day of school. We put 25 000 km on our car driving around Lake Ontario looking for teaching work for 3 weeks in July. Niagara Falls to Ottawa.
  3. Prepping for an interview in late July 1995, my wife was checked upon by an unemployment office clerk. She was rushed and ended the call quickly to prepare for the interview. The clerk cut my wife off from unemployment insurance and we were just stupid Newfies looking to draw pogey. Without funds, we needed to return to Newfoundland to work. The clerk’s malice was later found, and my wife’s unemployment funding was restored, but we went to Japan in 1996 rather than retry in Ontario. 
  4. In 2012, I thought forcing Horizon to settle was a victory for me and I could move on. 

  5. In the HRTO hearing documents, however, they did not disclose a Horizon Ontario Energy Board (OEB) report that they filed before the hearing as part of an October 2011 filing, and that report, presented an exclusive evaluation of the program that I ran when I was with them, I feel was retaliation. It took me years of looking to find out how my career was undone by the HRTO process.
  6. With the settlement, we signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), and looking back that NDA, mandatory to HRTO settlements, seems part of a plan to ensure that they forever tarnished my name. It worked; I have not been employed since.
  7. I tried to market an energy efficiency video series targeted at Intermediate school science classrooms that combined my previous experience but was shut out from all funding in Canada. It was a primary educational resource on a US-based Green Schools Alliance website that was affiliated with most major league city school boards but I was hamstrung. Had I known about the OEB audit I would not have tried to continue in the industry where I was maligned, and I would not have signed the settlement. I wonder if the partnerships with local utilities and funding that eluded me may have been there without that report. 
  8. It was that personal experience that was the root of my activism on mascots. The guy who told a Newfie Joke and the guy who told me it was never going to change on mascots said the same thing. That I had to get used to the abuse, that it was never going to change.
  9. I thought I could use my understanding of the HRTO process in 2014, which I thought I had used successfully before, to change things on mascots. Though I was also fearful as I was years without employment by that time, I still thought the justice system was, well, just.
  10. The simple question I asked the HRTO about the funding of Indigenous mascot teams became more than expected or hoped. I became hopeful of understanding why I could not gain employment and of returning to work. I would have actively allowed someone else to go to the front of this activism if employment returned.

  11. I was asked to explain my mascot position in the Huffington Post Op-Ed. After one article that stated I was going to challenge my kids and my wife’s employer’s school board mascot policy, they took away a job 10 km closer to home from my wife under dubious circumstances.
  12. That is why I was fearful when in the HRTO, the experience took away my employment and threatened my wife’s employment. My kids were being abused at school and ostracized by hockey teammates. Plus, my wife has Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS), diagnosed in 2012, so the 10 km of rush hour driving really matters.
  13. In November 2017, while waiting for the resumption of the Mississauga hearings, I found the OEB report Horizon, now Alectra, filed in 2011. I never thought they would interfere in this manner, in a semi-public regulatory filing, prior to the hearing. I thought this was proof that I was interfered with, and that was a mental relief in some ways, but it does reinforce my belief that all is rigged. I filed a breach of settlement case with the HRTO and the Human Rights Legal Support Center (HRLSC) team agreed to help me.
  14. In May 2018, when the HRTO forced a rehearing on the Mississauga mascot case, the belief in the rigged nature of the HRTO process began to harden. By this time, I had failed to get HRTO support on the hostile environment of Indigenous mascots created by a sponsor, and the Ministry of Education in the HRTO and in Canadian Human Rights versus the Canadian Broadcast Standard Commission (CBSC). I was worn down.
  15. In July 2018, I decided to settle the HRTO cases with Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) and Mississauga as fast as I could to try and resume my life. The tragedy of Krista Carle in the fight against abuse in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) showed the path I was headed on if I did not get out. Canada is merciless against those who stand. And while my strategy to demonstrate a pattern of racism across Canadian institutions was effective, it was not something Canadians want to hear.

  16. In September 2018, I settled with DPCDSB, and now realizing I was brutalized by the Horizon (Alectra) NDA I did not want to sign another. Mentally, it is fatiguing. The HRLSC thought I was looking for attention, not protection, and reneged on representing me in my breach case because I resisted the partial NDA signed. I did give them specific directions when they called me a liar.
    • I was tired of having motivations attacked, profoundly tormented by the NDA on Horizon that prevented me from talking about my story with anyone. That is socially isolating.
    • NDAs are mental torture devices given to powerful parties to compensate for their indignity of having to respect human rights. They are unequal documents where the signatory yields power to the complainant and are destructive to the mental health of all respondents who are forced to abide by them.
    • When the DPCDSB deal was not honored, in December 2018 I was annoyed, I had paid a personal price to get the settlement announced.
    • When tIn DPCDSB did not honor the deal again in 2019, I was furious. I sent a complaint to the Ontario College of Teachers. In 2020, they said DPCDSB side a deal with someone else that overshadowed the HRTO agreement with me, and my anger at the ignoring of the settlement was more severe than the DPCDSB decision to ignore the settlement. I never even bothered to approach the HRLSC for help, they had abandoned me before.

    • As an insight into the HRTO process, I was described as a person who describes himself as Qalipu Mi’kmaq in Case Assessment Direction versus a complaint versus the Ministry of Education. I showed the text to an Indigenous McGill-educated lawyer whose work has recently been cited by President Joe Biden. That lawyer agreed that the Vice-Chair Douglas Sanderson was calling me a liar.
    • Additionally, the Vice-Chair in the Mississauga compared me to Joseph Boyden and questioned my card after I showed it to him on the witness stand in December 2017. I was blocked from speaking to the press and months earlier Don Cherry made it worse on Coaches’ corner,  and even worse again after the Mississauga HRTO settlement on Rogers Hometown Hockey in Mississauga with Hazel McCallion. Watch the documentary.
    • I learned the significance of the Vice chair’s line of questioning when he attacked my heritage in Mississauga. He was asking me to identify myself with my grandfathers. It is not something that we did in our community. It is how people in Haudenosaunee identify themselves to each other. The Qalipu were not part of Canadian Indigenous culture and did not act in the same way. The Vice Chair seemed to believe that if I was Indigenous I would behave as a Haudenosaunee did. Someone coached him that I was not Indigenous if I did not communicate as a Haudenosaunee. 

  17.  Without counsel, I lost the breach case. The referring person above as witnesses gave testimony that it was the normal course of business to do an individual utility audit on conservation programs. She was not required to answer questions about why the individual utility audit report was the normal course of business when no other utility had done it before. She could not cite examples of other utilities doing it. The vice-chair said she trusted her and shut me down.
    • The reason given for the audit was a request from the Vulnerable Energy Consumers Coalition and that was the reason for Horizon to audit my program when their samples of audits were led by the province.
    • The letter showing the request was not in Alectra’s documents but was accepted as fact.
    • It was not on the OEB website in January 2019. I emailed the lawyer for the VECC looking for it.
    • It was on the OEB website in November 2019.

  18. 4 months after the deal Six Nations and the Mississauga of the New Credit did a deal for the first Blackhawks game in Cree. It was shown on APTN. Can you imagine BET showing “Birth of a Nation” from 1915?
  19. After the loss of the breach complaint was published in February 2019 on CanLII, a legal decision database, I began reaching out to contacts in the utility industry. One energy executive who was a manager at the OEB in 2011 told me in a social media message that witness testimony was inconsistent with what was done when he was working at the OEB. That conservation program audits were led by the province.
  20. Finally, with the proof for a retaliation case, a complaint was filed in November 2019. It was received and given a file number by the HRTO.
  21. The Registrar suggested the HRLSC represent me. The HRLSC walked away from me before and I reminded the HRLSC and the Registrar of the direction that I had given the HRSLC when they called me a liar. I cannot say 10 years of being ostracized is conducive to anger management.
  22. Months later, the accepted retaliation complaint, with evidence that the witness may have been lying under oath in the breach hearing, was dismissed on a technicality. It was never sent to the respondent.

  23. Unemployed still. When I tell people about what happened they zone out. When I put it in the documentary “Systemic Injustice” nobody watches.
  24. I do not think much of Canada. I think less of the justice system and the people who worked against me from the Indigenous community. Think even less of the people who gave DPCDSB the permission to not honor the HRTO deal.
  25. But nobody cares. The Tribunal knows it acted improperly, they know that my career, life, and family have been interfered with, but they do not care.
  26. Justice would be having my income restored for the period I was interfered with, but that will not happen.
  27. Justice is not a result of the Human Rights Tribunals of Ontario.

  28. I wonder if I will be able to resume my normal life, to have income again.
  29. I think my work has made changes for some people and the Human Rights Commission of Ontario is all too willing to claim those changes as their own.
  30. Canada purposely makes it difficult for those who stand up for themselves, who test their human rights. I think it does it to ensure that other people will not stand. They do not wish to encourage others to force change.
  31. I have been reluctant to share this. I am fearful of further retribution and prolonged difficulties in getting my life back.
  32. I should have never gotten involved with the Human Rights Tribunals. Do the math on 10 years without income. I think anyone considering using the system should look at the experiences that I have shared in my documentary and in this writing.

  33. On one hand, when my personal experience is combined with my mascot activism, I present a pattern of nonfeasance by the Human Rights Institutions of Canada.
  34. The system is designed to discourage complaints, to punish those who stand, and preserve the status quo.
  35. On the other, I present proof that the Human Rights process works exactly as designed. As I wrote in the Huffington Post, it is what I feared, a toothless kangaroo court of Canada’s cross-fingered commitment to human rights.

 Click on poster image to view the documentary.