Ex-Ottawa jail superintendent, Ontario government settle

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Ex-Ottawa jail superintendent, Ontario government settle

Postby Thomas » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:51 am

Ex-Ottawa jail superintendent, Ontario government settle explosive human rights case

Detention centre boss claimed ministry held systemic bias against Muslims

OTTAWA — An incendiary human rights complaint by the former superintendent of the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre against the province has been resolved without a public hearing.

Asfia Sultan had alleged that she was fired in July 2010 because she raised concerns about systemic discrimination against Muslims within the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Sultan claimed that Muslims were under-represented among ministry employees — and over-represented among the inmate population.

The ministry, however, insisted that Sultan’s firing had nothing to do with her advocacy on behalf of Muslims.

It said she was terminated because ministry officials did not have confidence in her ability to “effectively lead the organization through the changes necessary to meet its organizational mandate.”

The case had been scheduled for a three-day hearing before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario this week.

But a spokesperson for the tribunal revealed Monday that a resolution had been reached between the two sides that eliminated the need for a hearing.

That settlement closed the human rights file.

But neither Sultan nor the ministry would comment Monday on that settlement — or the allegations at the heart of the case.

An interim decision about legal issues in the case made in late August highlights the potentially explosive issues involved.

In documents submitted to the tribunal, the ministry said it dismissed Sultan and Deputy Superintendent Mark Grady on the same day as part of its management makeover.

The ministry noted that Grady was neither Muslim nor of southeast Asian origin. (Sultan self-identifies as “a practising Muslim of southeast Asian origin and Pakistani race.”)

Sultan, however, argued that Grady was fired on the same day “as a pretext to cover up allegedly discriminatory grounds for her termination.”

To that end, she won an order from the tribunal that forced the ministry to turn over records related to Grady’s dismissal and a notorious grievance in which he featured prominently.

An Ontario Grievance Settlement Board decision in January 2010 said Grady contributed to a poisonous work environment for a gay guard, Robert Ranger, who endured four years of homophobic slurs and other abuse at the detention centre.

Sultan also asked the tribunal to order the province to produce statistics on the number of Muslim offenders in custody.

“The applicant (Sultan) argues that these documents are relevant to the applicant’s allegations that she was increasingly visible in her internal and public efforts to effect change in response to a disproportionately high and growing number of Muslims incarcerated at OCDC (Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre) and within other provincial correctional institutions,” the interim decision reads.

“The applicant alleges that her initiatives as a Muslim Superintendent, taken in response to this situation, resulted in her being terminated.”

The tribunal turned down her request for statistics on Muslim offenders, but ordered the province to produce statistics on the total number of Muslims employed at the detention centre and the within the province’s corrections system.

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