Sask. Human Rights Commission to proceed with prayer complaint

February 20, 2013 - 6:16am Updated: February 20, 2013 - 1:11pm
Praying hands. File photo News Talk Radio
Praying hands. File photo News Talk Radio

It started as a concern about a Christian prayer read during a volunteer appreciation banquet in Saskatoon.

Now, Ashu Solo said the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission will proceed with the formal complaint he filed.

In a media statement released Tuesday night, Solo said when the commission researched his complaint they found that there was enough evidence

to believe that the part of the province's human rights code, dealing with discrimination on the grounds of religion, was violated.

The complaint is leveled against councillor Randy Donauer, who read the prayer, and the mayor's office because they organized the event that took place Apr. 18, 2012.

At the time of the complaint Solo said he wanted an apology from Mayor Don Atchison and Donauer, along with a promise that religion and politics wouldn't mix at future government events.

Solo received a signed letter from Norma Gunninham-Kappahn, director of resolution with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. It reads, "We have reviewed your submission regarding your experience at the City of Saskatoon Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. The Commission has determined that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the Code may have been violated."

There are several mediation steps that take place before a complaint could be sent to the Court of Queen's Bench, said David Arnot, chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. The first is a pre-complaint resolution, the second is an investigation and the third is a case management meeting where the chief commissioner would determine whether the complaint should go to court.

"It's all designed to solve the problem if we can," he said, adding he could not confirm nor deny any communication with Solo so as to maintain neutrality.

"Fundamentally, we have a policy not to confirm or deny even the existence of a complaint. Well, why is that? It's because we have to protect the complainants and the respondents."

Solo said he has not entered the mediation process.

"No, it hasn't gone to mediation yet. No," he said.

"I don't believe that mediation will be possible." Solo said the City of Saskatoon hasn't met his requests thus far so he doesn't believe that will change through mediation.

Solo has also lodged a complaint with the city about the words Merry Christmas being displayed on city buses during the holiday season.

Follow on Twitter: @karinyeske

See related:
Citizen calls out Saskatoon councillor's prayer at government event