"I think if someone wants to open a business and only hire people of one race...I think they should have that right."
Andrew Lawton thinks it’s time we legalized discrimination.
The former Rebel Media contributor – handpicked by Ontario PC leader Doug Ford to run as a candidate in London – made the comments on the show he hosted for the far-right network between 2015 and 2017.
Lawton’s candidacy has already been controversial thanks to a long list of past statements, including homophobic and racist remarks, that have come to light during the campaign. He has attributed his conduct to mental health issues he suffered between 2005 and 2013.
In this more recent segment – dated March 24, 2016 – Lawton attacks Human Rights codes and argues that businesses should be free to discriminate on the basis of both gender and race.
“This is a zone where we value freedom” Lawton announces, before proceeding to offer the following defence of legalized discrimination:
“I think that if someone wants to open a business and only hire people of a certain sex, it’s their business. Let them do what they want. I think if someone wants to open a business and only hire people of one race, maybe a Chinese restaurant wants to hire only Chinese people, I think they should have that right. I realize that the Human Rights Code denies people that right, but I would look at schools in the same way. If you’re a private school and you want to cater to only a small subset of the population, that should be your prerogative.”
Human rights laws seem to have been a favourite target of Lawton’s at the time.
During another show, broadcast the previous month, Lawton had also attacked human rights laws – deeming them an extension of “political correctness”:
“You could arguably say that PC [political correctness] is with insanity…it’s the closest thing we have to a state religion [in Canada]…And we have in Canada a codification of political correctness, except it’s not called that it’s called Human Rights Law.”
He went on to complain that human rights laws create “special victim groups, these grievance groups who are supposed to be free of discrimination.”
The main purpose of human rights laws like Ontario’s Human Rights Code is, indeed, to prevent discrimination.
As the Code’s own introduction states:
“[The Code is] a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific areas such as jobs, housing and services. The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, sex, disability, and age, to name a few of the fifteen grounds.”
Importantly, this is based on a recognition that “the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
Put another way, the purpose and scope of human rights laws is to guarantee and safeguard people’s freedom rather than constrain or limit it, as Lawton would argue.
Consider, for example, a hypothetical scenario in which a restaurant owner refuses services to several patrons on the grounds that they are black.
In this case, the freedom of the patrons is clearly being violated by the restaurant owner. Yet Lawton, who apparently opposes making such a policy illegal, might argue it is in fact the owner’s freedoms that need to be protected here – and that anyone who says otherwise is just being “politically correct.”
For many Canadians, the choice in such a scenario would probably be quite clear: the patrons’ right to eat at a restaurant free from racial discrimination should take precedence over the racist owner’s right to discriminate.
Lawton’s comments on human rights laws are just the latest to surface during his controversial candidacy, adding to a growing list that includes:
- Criticizing the appearance of the Pride Flag at London City Hall
- Calling for the abortion debate to be reopened and arguing that women who have abortions are “robbing” fathers
- Calling the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women a “Fake Holiday” Promoted by “Feminazis”
- Organizing an event for Ann Coulter and interviewing her on his show
- Complaining about “the pussification of the West”
- Calling climate change science “a lot of nonsense”
- Commemorating a book by a far-right Islamophobe
- Suggesting that German women “deserve” to be sexually assaulted because of their country’s refugee policies