Vancouver BC, April 9, 2010. British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal hears final arguments of Pardy vs. Ismail at 2pm.
[UPDATED 10PM PST]
To begin, a bit directly from my raw notes:
visitors and media receive COLD welcome today at BCHRT - reception on 11, 12 floor NOT friendly, NOT welcoming. No smiles - no name tags - no introductions - no warmth... HAHA rude woman on 12th floor calling loudly after us down hallway! (high-school vice principal?):-----
"Come back here!"... "Who are you, media? You need a seat assignment card!"... "What about that guy who already went in, does he have one?!"... she chases him into hearing room but he already has card...
JudyJanet Mews on 11 gave out # 1-5 already, hello?...
12th floor door code changed - now 125 - because of my video? or do they change it every week?
media/visitors/public knowledge = adversarial to BCHRT goals? ie burden to tolerate, ie "we prefer to work in private" -- not just me feeling this, also reporter sitting beside me: "It's a contradiction" he says, referring to rude hospitality from organization touting respect and dignity among everyone. Instead: stink eye! to public taxpayer guests visiting their property to witness what goes on.
It's 2:05pm and we're waiting to start. The Hearing room design has improved since last Friday: tables have been moved closer together and the gallery now has one centre access aisle instead of one at either end. I wonder if they read my post "Inside the Hearing Room" and acted on the feedback?
Today the gallery is chock full of visitors, plus some ad-hoc chairs being used in the corner. Pardy's girlfriend Eda is sitting one row behind me, three seats to the right. The attending media surrounds her, ready with their pens and steno pads, some also using a digital recorder (allowed only to verify notes, no broadcasting). Several bloggers chatter the keys of their laptop computers. A few young female law students are taking notes and filling out some sort of questionnaire. I speak briefly to one man who claims no connection to the case, describing himself quietly as "just an outraged member of the public".
Lorna Pardy is present at the complainant's table. She looks good: well-rested, neat casual dress, clean and trendy shoes. She turns her head and makes direct eye contact with me five times today. Each time we look into each others' eyes for 2-3 seconds before she turns her attention back to the hearing.
I wonder if she knows who I am, as the publisher of this blog? If her & Eda have been following my posts, they know I use a MacBook Pro laptop. And today in the hearing room I was indeed the only person using such a computer. Did they make that connection? If so, do they have anything to say about all this? Ladies, feel free to email me.
Okay, shhhh, the submissions are about to begin:
Sam Ismail for respondent Salam Ismail (owner of Zesty's restaurant):
"First of all, there is huge amount of material to go through and sort out with this case. As you can see, you need a law office to put all these materials together with secretaries, typists and lawyers, and putting such a burden on us , giving us all this material to argue it here, and give us two days is like impossible mission. It's been frustrating for me, the last few days. I only type 15 or 20 words per minute. I would ask this hearing be adjourned for a week so I can put this together properly. I feel this has been shoved down my throat, I spent all night on it to get there but I couldn't. I ask, for fairness, that we be given another week."Devyn Cousineau for Lorna Pardy:
"The tribunal has already been more than reasonable … the respondent was given over a week to prepare for the submission. We're ready to proceed, we cannot come back to argue this. We've had no notice of this issue, we are prepared to proceed today, we would like to proceed." [ed. note: Cousineau is very pregnant, due any day now]Murray Geiger-Adams, Tribunal:
"I am prepared to listen to the complainant's submissions, and I'm prepared to give the respondent a further week to reply in writing."Cousineau:
"Lorna Pardy was a patron at Zesty's on May 22 when she was subjected to a brutal attack by Guy Earle. Miss Pardy and her friends were singled out on the basis of their sexual orientation ... The attacks were not part of a comedy routine ... They violated section 8 of the human rights code ... Lorna Pardy felt she had been assaulted, her ears were ringing, her hands were shaking, she was in shock ... Subsequent media coverage naming miss Pardy - including a YouTube video of Guy Earle painting miss Pardy as a drunken heckler, a militant lesbian looking for a fight - has left miss Pardy with generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and PTSD."-----
I have the remainder of Cousineau's submissions on digital tape and will provide a transcript over the weekend. She covered a lot of ground and detailed technical legal aspects for almost two hours. She addressed witness credibility, legal issues surrounding the Tribunal's jurisdiction, creative expression vs. discrimination, was Mr. Earle a Zesty's employee under Human Rights code, what was his intention...
...and finally the Shakedown: Pardy wants an unspecified amount of compensation due to injury of dignity. Cousineau cited a sexual assault case as precedent for the Tribunal to consider when deciding how much to award. Really.