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See also: Letter to Parks & Rec

posted February 16, 2005

Request to the City's CAO


February 16, 2005

Ms.Shirley Hoy
Chief Administrative Officer
City of Toronto
11th floor East Tower
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Dear Ms.Hoy,

I am writing to request that you authorize an investigation into a recent incident at Dufferin Grove Park.

A complaint was made to the City, against me as a city volunteer, for what was called "an illegal act of gender harassment," after I asked a woman to expose less of her upper body, as she was preparing to breastfeed her baby in the park's rink house. The city subsequently issued a hastily put-together policy statement which appears to mean that a breastfeeding woman can be half or totally unclothed on any city property while feeding her child. It appears that any staff or volunteer who attempts to even screen an exceptional amount of nudity in such a case is subject to discipline, whether or not s/he speaks to the breastfeeding woman.

Many friends of our park, and the Dufferin Rink staff as well, are concerned that such a policy would no longer support the diversity of cultures, ages, and sensibilities in the park's often-crowded rink house. The park friends felt the need to strike a legal committee, and their investigations into the Ontario Human Rights Code (and the related jurisprudence) suggest that such a rigid policy does not conform to current law.

In addition, I am concerned that the City's policy statements, as published and also made available to the media, strongly imply that I had actually tried to prevent a woman from breastfeeding her baby in the rink house. This assumption is counter to my (and the rink staff's) version of the event. My three attempts to speak about the details of the event with P&R director Don Boyle and one attempt with Public Health spokesperson Joanne Gilmour, were refused. Mr.Boyle did eventually give a partial response, after many people from the neighbourhood wrote to Brenda Librecz. However, there has never yet been an invitation for me to tell what I saw and did, and to take part in a full and careful discussion of the situation.

I assume that there is a City protocol for investigating, fact-finding, adjudicating and communicating its decisions in response to complaints alleging breaches of people's human rights. I would appreciate it if you could now set this in motion.

[signed] Jutta Mason

Note, March 15, 2005: As of this date, we have not received a response to this letter.

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