ONTARIO has nominated international human rights law expert Renu Mandhane for appointment as the next chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, subject to review by the Standing Committee on Government Agencies.
Mandhane is executive director of the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, including its award-winning legal clinic. Prior to joining the University of Toronto in 2008, Mandhane was a practising criminal lawyer, representing survivors of domestic and sexual violence and federally-sentenced prisoners.
A long-time advocate for the advancement of women’s human rights, Mandhane is a member of the Canada Committee of Human Rights Watch, and is an active advisor to PEN International.
Pending review by the Standing Committee on Government Agencies, Mandhane will take over the role of chief commissioner from interim chief Ruth Goba in fall 2015. Previously, the position was held by Barbara Hall, who retired from the post in February 2015 after nearly 10 years of service.
Mandhane holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Toronto, a Master of Laws from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queen’s University.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission was established in 1961 to administer the Ontario Human Rights Code. Its mandate includes developing public policy on human rights, conducting public inquires and promoting a culture of human rights in the province.
The commission also has the power to monitor and report on anything related to the state of human rights in Ontario.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said: “I want to extend my congratulations to Renu Mandhane on her nomination as Ontario’s new Human Rights Commissioner. As a long-time advocate for human rights with a focus on advancing women’s rights, we are fortunate that someone so passionate and experienced will lead the important work done by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. I am confident Ms. Mandhane’s leadership will play an integral role as the Office of the Chief Commissioner works to promote a culture of human rights in the province and build a fairer and more inclusive Ontario for all.”
Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur said: “As an expert in the area of human rights and a passionate advocate for freedom of speech and the rights of women, Ms. Mandhane will bring invaluable experience to the Office of the Chief Commissioner, and will help solidify Ontario’s leadership on human rights on the global stage. I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation to interim chief Ruth Goba for her stewardship of the commission over the past several months.”
Mandhane said: “I am excited to work with my fellow commissioners to serve Ontarians through relevant and impactful engagement that addresses the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society. I feel privileged to live in a province where difference is respected and celebrated, but we must be bold in confronting persistent, systemic discrimination. My work at the international level has impressed upon me how important it is to act locally to ensure sustainable social change. I am humbled to be provided with an opportunity to take up that challenge.”
Hall said: “I am pleased to congratulate Renu Mandhane on her nomination to be the next chief commissioner of the OHRC. The journey towards achieving the goal of a culture of human rights in Ontario requires frequent renewal and inspired leadership. I know that Renu’s experience, commitment and passion will provide just that for Ontarians.”