Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montreal, February 8, 2012 --- The Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board appeal of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal decision on the Maria Gallardo/Luc Cagadoc case will be heard on Thursday, February 9th, 2012, from 10:00 am, at the Court of Appeal of Quebec, 100 Notre-Dame East, in the Gilles Mignault Room.

In 2010, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Luc Cagadoc and his mother, Maria Gallardo, had been discriminated against by the School Board and its officials, after the boy was disciplined for eating with a spoon and a fork and exposed to derogatory remarks based on his ethnic origin. The School Board and two of its officials were ordered to pay Ms. Gallardo and her son $17,000.

The School Board appealed the decision on the basis that the case was partially dismissed by the Quebec Human Rights Commission for lack of evidence. The Board argued that the Tribunal could not review and address certain aspects of the case that the Commission had ruled as non-discriminatory. Ms. Gallardo's position, as defended by lawyer René Saint-Léger, is that the Commission did not fully investigate important facts brought before it, especially previous incidents of bias. Furthermore, Ms. Gallardo’s counsel will submit that the Tribunal, not the Commission, should be the final arbiter of a complaint of discrimination and the facts are so interconnected that they must be fully presented as a whole.

In recent years, the Commission has adopted the practice of referring certain cases to the Tribunal, where victims or complainants can go at their own expense instead of being represented by the Commission, if the latter feels the case is not of “public interest.”

The Gallardo case will have a significant impact for victims of discrimination and their ability to use the civil rights system in Quebec. In 1997, the courts ruled that once a Human Rights Commission has completely dismissed a case, a victim or complainant cannot apply to the Tribunal for redress. The Tribunal is a specialized body to which only the Commission can refer cases of discrimination. Victims can still turn to regular courts other than the Tribunal but at their own expense.

Since the Gallardo case involves a partial dismissal of the complaint, the Court of Appeal must decided whether a victim, whose case is partially dismissed by the Commission, can still present the full body of evidence before the Tribunal as part of his or her right to a full and fair hearing. This is especially important in cases where the facts are interconnected.

Members of the local Filipino community, civil rights groups and other interested persons as well as the media are invited to attend the hearing.