Over the course of the last century progressions have been established to eliminate the discrimination that has obstructed women and many racial and visible minorities from discovering their full potential. In the United States programs of, "affirmative action" have been implemented in order to alleviate such discrimination, as have programs of "employment equity" in Canada. These programs have come to affect all aspects of out lives everything from post-secondary school admissions, public and private sector employment, laws as well even sentencing for indictable offences.
While these laws were once necessary they have come to infringe upon other people's rights. It is time for change in Canada's legal system. In order to have a legitimate policy in place that will hinder the discrimination of those that have been discriminated against in the past, legislation must promote equality for all citizens. Affirmative action is the name given to programs created in the United States which deal with putting into practice programs to help decrease the amounts of discrimination that occur in the workplace in terms of hiring and promotion.
In Canada, these programs have been labeled as employment equity. Foundations for these programs in Canada can be traced within the Abella Report. Judge Rosalie Abella was asked, "to study the employment practices of eleven designated Crown and other government-owned corporations regarding women, native people, disabled persons and visible minorities. "24 After carrying out her study she "recommended government action to enforce equal pay for equal work (EPFEW)," and "equal pay for equal work of value (EPFWOEV)" . . . " Since this report such action has been taken.
The main goal of employment equity is to advocate for those groups who have been discriminated against in the past. As Judge Abella points out in her report, "people in these groups have restricted employment opportunities, limited access to decision making processes that critically affect them, little public visibility . . . by no standard is this fair. "25 The term "fair" is a word that is widely utilized when dealing with the issues surrounding affirmative action. It is important to analyze the core values of a liberal democracy in order to measure by what means affirmative actions policies are in fact "fair.
" The main ideal behind the core values of a liberal democracy is the "liberation and respect for individual personality . . . requires that each person be free to make his or her own moral choices . . . there must be a significant measure of equality for citizens" and "each person should be treated impartially on the basis of their individual merit. "26 Based on the core values of a liberal democracy, that is, the promotion of equality for the individual, and affirmative action, which is the promotion of certain groups that have been discriminated against, affirmative action, is not a legitimate policy.
Affirmative action can first be deemed as illegitimate by pointing out that its mandate focuses on groups, as opposed to the individual outlined in the core values of a liberal democracy. Policies of affirmative action, "treat the individual on the basis of group membership . . . "26 As Lance W. Roberts explains, affirmative action is an, "illegitimate means for equality in the workplace because it places emphasis on achieving proportional representation and not merit. "27 That is to say that the public sector is pressured to provide assurance that there is a specific degree of visibility of all racial groups as well as gender.
Therefore employers must hire and promote individuals based on their association to a specific group. While there was a need for programs of this intensity in the 1960s and 1970s it has done its job and now is hindering true equality. In the Supreme Court ruling "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas", the Supreme Court found that "Racial segregation in public education has a detrimental effect on minority children because it is interpreted as a sign of inferiority"28.
This decision was one that set an immense precedent in both Canada and the United States, the Supreme Court found that the idea of "separate but equal" was no longer lawful. Affirmative action policies help ease the transition of allowing minorities into the workforce and education system. These goals have been achieved and it so now time for reformation. Focusing on the core values of liberal democracy and meritocracy affirmative action can no longer legitimized. POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION One major problem with affirmative action is it's obsession with being ethnically proportional in terms of population.
Accepting students on the colour of their skin or culture and not merit is hardly, "fair" or democratic. In a society that we live in today with an abundance of social programs almost anyone who wants too should be able to get into university or other post secondary education. The rising cost of education can be assisted through programs like Ontario Students Social Aid Program, scholarships and bursaries. The Liberal government has come out with a program called the Millennium Scholarships which is a program that will give 100,000 students on average $3,000 a year29.
It is giving designed for deserving low to middle-income student. $2. 5 billion has been put into this program. There should be no concern over whether enough Blacks or any other ethnic groups students are present in the school; proportional representation will occur automatically if people who need it are aided through social programs and bursaries through out their education. A liberal democratic congressman told U. S. News, "I'll be goddamned why the son of a wealthy black businessman should have a slot reserved for him at college because of his race when the son of a white auto-assembly worker is excluded.
"30 This is a popular idea now a days and there has been a movement pulling away from having racial quotas in schools. The state of Michigan especially the University of Michigan has been a hot spot for affirmative action issues. Several schools have been found guilty of, "reverse discrimination"; the two largest cases are Gratz v. Bollinger (undergraduate) and in Grutter v. Bollinger (law school). In both cases the University of Michigan was found admitting minority students over above qualified white applicants. In a 50 page ruling released on the Gratz case, Judge Patrick J.
Duggan agreed with the plaintiffs' arguments and found that the evidence that was submitted was sufficient to rule in their favor without need of a trail31. He grated the plaintiffs' motion for a summary judgment. Judge Duggan rejected the arguments from the Universities attorneys who had a multi-million dollar defense. Their argument was that in the Supreme Court's ruling in 1978 in the case of Bakke v. Regents of University of California case law stated that, "under certain circumstances, to take race into consideration in their admissions process in order to further intellectual diversity.
"32 This decision was appealed but is a prime example of how the law needs and is changing. Judge Duggan ruled against the 1978 Bakke case because he believed that laws like these are no longer necessary33. In the second case, Grutter v. Bollinger, Judge Bernard Friendman decided in favour of the plaintiffs he declared that, "educational diversity is not a compelling state interest and that, even if it were, the University of Michigan admissions system is not narrowly tailored to achieving that interest"34.
He called the University of Michigan system, "indistinguishable from a straight quota system. "35 Judge Friedman goes on to say, "if the law school may single out these racial groups for a special commitment today, there is nothing to prevent it from enlarging, reducing, or shifting its list of preferred groups tomorrow without any reasoned basis or logical stopping point36. How the universities did conduct their admissions process is very interesting and unethical.
The university gives Black and Hispanic freshman applicants a 20 point boost on a 150 point scale, the law school is more subjective and works towards establishing a, "critical mass" of minority students37. From this system Blacks and Hispanic get a 15% bonus just for the colour of their skin. An important point about this is that these admissions policies were not about giving disadvantaged youths a better opportunity it was only about numbers and colours.
The applicants' socio-economic status were not considered, just the colour of their skin; how superficial is that? The United States is such a diverse country that it is not unheard of for a Black family to be wealthy or a White family to be poor. This application process ignored all other aspects of the students lives. These policies are only in place because of the laws support them. Changing previous case law was the first step now it is time to change the legislation itself.