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A settlement is reached with Bell Helicopter following complaint

Jan 18, 2008, Montréal - An agreement has been signed by Bell Helicopter and a complainant to the QHRC following a complaint of discrimination in relation to ITAR.


January 18, 2008
By Carey Fredericks

Jan 18, 2008, Montréal – An agreement has been signed by Bell Helicopter and the complainant
following a complaint of discrimination filed with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse in relation to the application of the United States’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

The complainant alleged that he had been refused an internship with the company because of the
application of the US regulations, which require Canadian and Québec companies that manufacture military equipment and have contracts with US companies to exclude workers born in certain countries from specific jobs, even if they hold Canadian citizenship.

Exclusion based on place of birth

The complainant, who was born in Haiti but has held Canadian citizenship for almost 30 years, applied for an internship with Bell Helicopter as part of a training program. His application was accepted, along with that of 14 other students, but when he began his internship he was notified that his place of birth, Haiti, disqualified him from continuing under the ITAR rules.

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The agreement, the details of which remain confidential, follows a claim for damages made by the complainant as a result of his exclusion, which was considered discriminatory by the Commission following an investigation. Since the matter has been settled to the satisfaction of the complainant, the Commission will cease to act in this specific case.

Opposition to discriminatory rules

The Commission reiterates its opposition to the application of the ITAR rules in Québec because of their discriminatory impact. It has conducted a legal analysis of the rules and concluded that they include requirements that are inconsistent with the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

More specifically, they infringe the right to equality without discrimination based on ethnic or national origin. “We can no longer accept that companies established in Québec submit to foreign rules that infringe on the values and rights of citizens as recognized by the National Assembly,” says Gaétan Cousineau, the president of the Commission.

The Commission does not challenge the need for military equipment manufacturers to establish security rules. However, security controls must be designed and applied in a way that is not based on the ethnic or national origin of the workers concerned.

The Commission stated its position in letters to the federal and provincial governments in July 2007, urging the governments to take action to prevent American rules from causing discrimination in Québec.

The Commission is following the political developments in this matter attentively. It also points out that any person who believes that his or her rights have been infringed by the application of the ITAR rules may rely on the services of the Commission.


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