May 3, 2015

 National Newswatch – Jim Bronskill
Retired judge and former national security adviser named to spy watchdog 

As Deborah Grey leaves the chair, the Prime Minister’s Office has announced the appointment of Pierre Blais, a former solicitor general and recently retired chief justice of the Federal Court of Appeal as the new chair of the Review for the CSIS agency.  Also to the CSIS review panel named is former national security adviser Marie-Lucie Morin as a member.  Blais was a Cabinet Minister in the Mulroney government.

Globe and Mail – Tabitha Southey
The Tories want to have their cake and imprison it, too

According the Southey, Canadians learned this week from Auditor General Ferguson that we have spent $91 million more to be less protected.  Southey thinks that sitting ion tacks with the pointy side up may help bridge the gap of understanding. “…despite the fact that there’s been a steady decline in crime, we’re increasing the size of our prison population. To believe there’s any correlation between lower crime rates and the Conservative’s policy of increased incarceration, you’d have to believe that criminals were so concerned about our government’s tough-on-crime agenda that they banded together, built a time machine, travelled to the early nineties and put stuff back pausing only to teach their younger selves the error of their ways.”

 Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Top court sides with B.C. man, broadens freedom to sue prosecutors

It used to be that Crowns were exempt from lawsuit unless malicious intent were found when the wrongly convicted sought redress.  Now the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that failure to fully disclose to the defence will also bring prosecutorial accountability, setting a new threshold for Crowns.   SCC Decision:  Henry vs B.C.

 Times Colonist (Victoria, BC) – R.E.B. Brown
Professionals should decide on sentencing

Brown is a former parole director for Vancouver Island and an international consultant on parole.  He sees the current federal government policy as “dumb on crime” and offers, after 35 years of service, an insightful piece on the role of the professional in the parole process, the damages happening, and the purpose of parole.  Brown points out the shift from the professionals to the political in decision making governing the process.  Speaking of the professionals, Brown says: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper should allow the sentencing judges, the parole board members and the parole officers to continue to use their discretion as trained professionals to keep our communities safe.”

 Youtube – Angela Princewill
Canada Immigration Detention Review

This is a 6 minute video that walks the viewer through the process for those held in detention by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the options along the way through the process for the person held.  While helpful for an overview, the video is one of many on Youtube from law firms soliciting clients.

 Social Justice News Nexus (US) – Steve Bogira
How we neglect the link between poverty and crime–and why we shouldn’t

Advocates are beginning to suggest that the justice system has an approach to the mentally ill that creates and sustains the cycle of “arrest, incarcerate, release, repeat.”  Bogira thinks that the core problem is poverty and that just as we establish specialty courts for veterans, for drug addicts, alcoholics, should not our compassion extend as well to the most impoverished among us?  What is to stop such an approach? Too many would qualify, says Bogira, and “And there may be another reason that the majority of impoverished defendants don’t receive special treatment–the judgmental attitude Americans have about the poor, and especially about poor offenders.”    Related article:  (Canada) / SCS Circle  –  Canada’s Courts Are Failing Offenders with Mental Illness   Related article: Huffington Post (US) – Sean McElwee     In a Case Very Few Are Discussing the Supreme Court Could Hugely Increase the Racial Wealth Gap     Related article;  Mother Jones (US) – Hannah Levintova, Photos Richard Ross   Girls in Justice