Wednesday 24 February 2016

Repugnant intent?

The Ontario courts have struck down a bequest that would have established scholarships with particular restrictions on eligibility:
An obituary says Priebe worked as a radiologist at Windsor’s Hotel Dieu Hospital for years before retiring more than 20 years ago.
Court documents say his will was written in 1994, more than two decades before he died at age 83 on New Year’s Day 2015.
In it, he instructs his trustee, the Royal Trust Corporation of Canada, to provide funds for awards and bursaries for white, single, heterosexual men in scientific studies at the University of Western Ontario or the University of Windsor.
“Students with the necessary academic qualifications who through work histories have demonstrated that they are not afraid of hard manual work in their selection of summer employment shall be given special consideration in the selection process,” the document says.
“No awards to be given to anyone who plays intercollegiate sports.”
A similar award is also to be created for a “hard-working” white, single woman “who is not a feminist or a lesbian.”
The will was written in 1994 in Ontario. Ontario, then, under Bob Rae's administration, was pushing pretty hard on affirmative action policies. One reading of the bit above is that it's a reaction to that policy environment: the donor wished there to be scholarships for groups that otherwise were not given special attention (though who of course could do well in general scholarships). Note the exclusion of athletes, who can get athletic scholarships.

The Judge thought differently:
An Ontario judge has ruled that a deceased doctor’s plan to create scholarships for white, single and heterosexual students as part of his will amounts to discrimination and must be quashed as a matter of public policy.
In a decision published last week, Ontario Superior Court Judge Alissa Mitchell says the stipulations laid out in Dr. Victor Priebe’s will “leave no doubt” that he intended to discriminate based on race, marital status and sexual orientation.

As a result, she says, they are “void as being contrary to public policy.”

... “I have no hesitation in declaring the qualifications relating to race, marital status, and sexual orientation and, in the case of female candidates, philosophical ideology...void as being contrary to public policy,” Mitchell wrote in her decision.

“Although it is not expressly stated by Dr. Priebe that he subscribed to white supremacist, homophobic and misogynistic views... (the provisions laid out in the will) leave no doubt as to Dr. Priebe’s views and his intention to discriminate on these grounds.”
Here is one list of Canadian scholarships, many of which have interesting eligibility requirements, some of which could be read as having strong implicit ideological constraints. Just not the same constraints as Priebe.

HT: Marina Adshade

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