News Release Archive

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission has appointed for the
first time a board of inquiry to consider complaints of
discrimination on the basis of political affiliation.

The commission announced today the board will hear the complaints
of Yvonne MacNeil, Ernest Parkes and Deborah Robinson against the
Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, now known as the Nova Scotia
Economic Development and Tourism.

Ms. MacNeil, of Pictou, alleges that although she had placed
first in an employment competition, she was not offered the 
position of manager at the visitor information centres in Pictou
and Wood Islands in April 1994 because of political affiliation.
Ms. MacNeil was employed by the Department of Tourism on a
seasonal basis from 1985 to 1993 as manager of the Pictou
information centre and was responsible for the Wood Islands
information centre when the manager was absent. She alleges that
the deputy minister awarded the manager's position to the
third-place candidate because her father was a well-known Liberal
party supporter. Ms. MacNeil further alleges that she was denied
the position because she is perceived to be a member of the
Progressive Conservative party. Ms. MacNeil lodged her complaint
on April 6, 1995.

Mr. Parkes, of Yarmouth, alleges that although he had been
recommended to continue as manager of the Yarmouth information
centre for the 1994 season (May 1 to October 31, he did not get
the job because of political affiliation. Mr. Parkes was employed
as the manager of the Yarmouth information centre in 1992 and
1993 and believes that the successful candidate was chosen by the
deputy minister because she had campaigned and was a friend of
the local Liberal member of the legislature. Parkes filed his
complaint on May 24, 1994.

Ms. Robinson, of Parker's Cove, worked for the Department of
Tourism from 1985 to 1994, and for seven of these years was the
manager of the Nova Scotia visitor information centre and tidal
power exhibit in Annapolis Royal, which was closed in 1994. She
suggested that the government install a floating information
centre on the ferry from Digby to Saint John, N.B., an idea that
was accepted and expanded to include the Yarmouth to Bar Harbor,
Me., ferry service. Required to apply for the position of manager
of the floating information centres, she was informed that she
had been recommended for the job but later told she did not get
it. In her complaint, filed June 13, 1994, Ms. Robinson alleges
that she was not hired because of political affiliation as she
had campaigned for the Conservative party candidate in the past.

These matters have been investigated by human rights commission
staff. The Tourism Department's position is that political
affiliation was not a factor in the competitions involving Ms.
Parkes, Mr. MacNeil and Ms. Robinson. In addition, the department
indicated that although candidates can be recommended for
employment, the deputy minister has the final discretion to make
hiring decisions. The deputy minister indicated that political
affiliation did not factor into his decision as he did not know
any of the personal lives or the political affiliations of
unsuccessful candidates.

The commissioners of the Human Rights Commission reviewed the
matter and concluded there was sufficient evidence to send these
complaints to a board of inquiry, which will conduct a full
hearing and determine if the decisions not to rehire Ms. Parkes,
Mr. MacNeil and Ms. Robinson were affected by discrimination
based on political affiliation.

The Human Rights Act of Nova Scotia has offered protection from
discrimination on the basis of political belief, affiliation or
activity (s.5(1)(u)) since 1991 but this is the first time a
board of inquiry has been appointed to hear complaints under this
section of the act.

The date, time and place of the hearing will be announced after
an adjudicator has been selected.


Contact: Wayne MacKay
         Executive Director
         902-424-4111 (office)
         902-477-5864 (home)

         Francine Comeau
         Co-Ordinator of Investigation and Compliance

trp                      Apr. 21, 1997 - 11:50 a.m.