Friday, December 19, 2008

Sheldon Johnston And The CHRC

Sheldon Johnston is the WTBA's Policy Chair. At the end of his CV, Mr. Johnston writes:

2003-2006 – Fought human rights case against the Canadian Forces for refusal of admittance as a Pentecostal Chaplain. I won the case before the Canadian Human Rights Commission on the grounds that the CF refused entrance to members of my church and under-represented other Pentecostal churches based upon discriminatory hiring policies. This groundbreaking case opened the doors for the induction of the first Muslim Chaplain to the CF, and changed the dynamics of chaplaincy in the CF to be more open and inclusive of religious minorities.

This is fascinating and quite encouraging for it, in one fell swoop, refutes the Speech Warrior contention that 1) Conservatives and/or Christians never employ the Canadian Human Rights system and that, 2) HRCs and HRTs are biased towards Conservatives and/or Christians. For more background, there is a good story on the early stages of Johnston's complaint in Christian Week from July 8, 2003.

Except that the only pertinent record that I can find in the CHRT archives would seem to contradict Mr. Johnson's claim to have won his case. From the decision (in which Mr. Johnson is referred to as The Complainant):

[33] The Complainant has thus ignored or failed to comply with numerous time limits set by the Tribunal in the present case. Based on the evidence before me, there is no reasonable excuse to explain the Complainant's late or non-existent compliance with all of these Tribunal directions. I cannot but infer that the Complainant has no interest in following through with his complain

[34] The Tribunal is entitled to protect its process from abuse brought on by this sort of wholesale disregard of time limits, which in this instance has rendered the case completely static for at least two years, an unreasonably long time. I therefore grant the Respondent's motion. The complaint is dismissed.

Furthermore, if you look at this decision, you will note that it is dated 2007/10/17. Even if there is more documentation that I have missed--if, for example, there is another complaint that Mr. Johnston filed and pursued to a successful conclusion--the decision emanating from this successful complaint would almost certainly have to have been issued after October 2007.

But the first Muslim Chaplain to join the CF was Suleyman Demiray, and he was welcomed into the service in late 2003. So it is very difficult to see how Mr. Johnston's complaint could have had any impact on this event.

h/t Buckets.


swjohnston said...


There is one thing that would be innaccurate in what I posted...the date my complaint began. My complaint within the CF began in 2000 when I pointed out to the ICCMC that their policies were discriminatory.

The fact that my case appeared before the CHRT means that the complaint was found in my favour by the CHRC, because complaints cannot appear before the CHRT without first succeeding before the CHRC.

And Sulleyman Demiray was reported to be inducted into the CF by CTV News in December, 2004, about three years after my complaint was first lodged. THEY APPROACHED HIM ABOUT SERVICE, which has never happened with any other current Regular Force chaplains, so they had to do it in response to some glaring problem, which according to the disclosure file provided to me by the CHRT, was my complaint.

I was unaware that this material was posted online, and I will be correcting the date issue outlined above, but I would encourage you not to make accusations without getting your facts straight.


Ti-Guy said...

How come you didn't respect any of the deadlines that the complaint process you engaged set for you?

The fact that my case appeared before the CHRT means that the complaint was found in my favour by the CHRC, because complaints cannot appear before the CHRT without first succeeding before the CHRC.

Uh, no. That evaluation is only determined by the final decision of the tribunal and since you didn't bother following through with what was asked of you, your complaint was dismissed.

swjohnston said...


Not that it is any of your business, but in 2004 my oldest son was diagnosed with severe autism. His twin brother was diagnosed with an "asberger-like" strain of autism 2 years ago.

The conservatives dropped the court challenges program supporting complainants I believe in 2006, and if you want to subpoena CF officers to come to a hearing in Alberta, the CHRT requires a deposit of about $30k.

So, in my humble opinion the human rights mechanism for resolving complaints isn't worth a hill of beans.

But as for the accuracy of my previous statements, I stand by them %100.

Your local library should have a few logic textbooks in their collection...I suggest you pick up a copy.


Ti-Guy said...

Coo coo...

swjohnston said...


buckets said...

For those interested, I too have a post regarding Sheldon Johnston's profile.

swjohnston said...

Please read my comments on your article.


For an accurate article about my case I will soon post the National Post article of April, 2003 "Minister Battles Military over Faith" by Tom Blackwell.

bigcitylib said...

Ditto Tiguy. You don't "win" anything until the CHRT decides in your favour. I call bullshit, Mr. Johnston.

bigcitylib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bigcitylib said...

Having read the National Post article Mr Johnston refs elsewhere, I see what he is getting at. In fact, I think what he was up to was quite commendable. Nevertheless, his WTBA CV is very misleading and should be corrected. You did not "win" his case, although your\ did good work through pressing it as far as you did. But these are not the same thing.

swjohnston said...

My personal hero, Louis Riel was accused of losing his case too. Not to compare my plight to his, but he defined his victory not in terms of a judge's verdict, but in terms of proving his sanity in the face of what he characterized an insane system stacked against him.

Like Riel, my objectives in changing military chaplaincy in Canada were met. I fought and won inclusion for all minority faiths, and I consider it victory. Mr. Sinclair's verdict was and is meaningless in light of those changes.

This will be my last comment on your forum.
Merry Christmas everyone.