Q: What started as a simple request to wear a pendant containing passages
from the Qur'an spiralled into a daily dose of harassment for a Muslim
cadet at the RCMP training academy, the Canadian Human Rights
Commission heard yesterday.
A: It was the first day of a tribunal examining Ali Tahmourpour's complaint that he was ridiculed for his Muslim beliefs and subjected to unwarranted criticism while at the academy in Regina from July to October 1999. He was terminated 14 weeks into the 22-week program. Tahmourpour, born in Iran, initially filed a complaint with the commission in March 2001. At that time, the government argued he was let go because of poor performance and the commission dismissed his complaint. Soon after, the Federal Court of Canada asked that it be reconsidered. The request was based on the commission's failure to consider RCMP statistics, which show a 7 per cent attrition rate among cadets as a whole, but a rate of almost 16 per cent among visible minorities. The rate, calculated from 1996 to 2001, includes both dismissals and resignations from the force. Federal Court Justice John Evans ruled the figures should have been considered in that case, as they were "sufficiently suggestive of the discriminatory practices alleged." Tahmourpour, 35, began his second hearing in front of the commission yesterday by painting a bleak picture of an RCMP unwilling to accept diversity within its academy.