(OTTAWA, CANADA 2/09/05) he Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) says it is extremely disappointed by the recent decision by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to ban religious arbitration. CAIR-CAN called the decision “shortsighted” and said it will do nothing to protect the interests of vulnerable parties.
“This decision is a loss for Christians, Jews, Muslims and others, and was unfortunately driven by numerous inaccuracies that distorted the true nature of what was already in use since 1991 in Ontario,” said Halima Mautbur, CAIR-CAN’s Communications Director. “Premier McGuinty failed to look beyond the controversy and do what was needed to create a system that is accountable, transparent and safeguards the rights of all Canadians.”
McGuinty announced on September 11, 2005 that all religious arbitration, including Islamic arbitration, would be prohibited in Ontario. He ignored a detailed report that he commissioned from former Attorney General Marion Boyd which recommended faith-based arbitration along with a detailed list of safeguards.
Riad Saloojee, CAIR-CAN’s Executive Director, says the end result of the decision by Premier McGuinty is that unregulated informal arbitration will continue process which does not always uphold the rights afforded to all Canadians, especially the vulnerable, under Canadian law.
CAIR-CAN’s submission to Boyd on faith-based arbitration included recommendations to ensure that the process was voluntary, consensual and informed. CAIR-CAN proposed, among other checks and balances, that all individuals who used the process receive independent legal advice, that arbitrators be trained and regulated appropriately and that a registry be kept of all arbitral decisions. For CAIR-CAN’s report and recommendations, see: http://www.caircan.ca/downloads/sst-10082004.pdf.
Many of CAIR-CAN’s recommendations were accepted by Boyd who, after consultation with other affected groups, ultimately recommended the use of faith-based arbitration.
“Premier McGuinty’s decision is clearly a political rather than a principled decision,” added Saloojee. “He has abandoned his own process by rejecting Ms. Boyd’s report and he has sent the very troubling message that public policy in Ontario will not be dictated by dispassionate and objective standards.”
CONTACT: CAIR-CAN, Halima Mautbur at 613-254-9704 or 613-795-2012