3) points out, Canada was the first country to adopt an official government policy on diversity. Its multicultural policy, which entered into legislature over thirty years ago, was "Canada's official legislative response to ethnic plurality for a multicultural society (Mahatani, 2002, p. 3). This does not mean, however, that there are no racial and ethnic tensions in Canada but only that the nation is comparatively more tolerant and accommodating of diversity than are many others. If Canada is to maintain relative ethnic and racial harmony it must diffuse the poisoned environment phenomenon which pervaded in the case of Clive Stevens and Robert Symister versus Lynx Industries.
In 2005, two black Jamaicans were dismissed from Lynx Industries, allegedly for race-based reasons. The case was brought before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The plaintiffs alleged that they had been subjected to racist treatment by Lynx Industries and its employees. The alleged racist treatment encompassed all of racial slurs, race motivated harassment and racist graffiti on the bathroom walls. The defendants denied all allegations but admitted to the graffiti incident. Their legal representative, however, cautioned that it had been a single, isolated incident. The Tribunal was unconvinced and found that the plaintiffs were not credible. The complaint was, therefore, dismissed.
Even though the complaint...
Interestingly, the Commission contends that "unlike harassment which requires repeated behaviour, a poisoned environment can be created by a single incident, if serious or substantial enough" ("Racial Harassment and Poisoned Environment," 2008, para 5). The creation of a poisoned environment is contrary to the Commission's Code. Importantly, employers are held responsible for either the prevention of the creation of poisoned environment or for taking immediate action against those responsible for it ("Racial Harassment and Poisoned Environment," 2008, paras 5-6). An environment which has been tainted by racism, even if it has assumed the form of a single incident, is considered poisoned because racial tolerance has been undermined, even violated. Indeed, poisoned environments may very well become intolerable for racial minorities, thereby forcing them to leave.
While it is important to acknowledge the Tribunal's findings, the fact of the matter is that Lynx Industries did admit to the presence of racist graffiti on the bathroom wall. Certainly, it did caution that it was a single incident and there was no reoccurrence. The fact of the matter is, however, that it did occur and the Commission considers such occurrences a breach of its policies ("Racial Harassment and Poisoned Environment," 2008, paras 1-2). Within the context of the stated, the Commission's findings appear contradictory to its own guidelines. Indeed, even if one assumes that the defendants were truthful in claiming that the plaintiffs were not dismissed for racial reasons but for their on-the-job performance, it could very well be that the environment had been poisoned to the extent where Stevens and Symister could not perform their jobs to the best of their