June 5, 2015

New York Times – Op Ed Edward Snowden (June 5, 2015)
Edward Snowden: The World Says No to Surveillance

Snowden is celebrating “the power of an informed public” in what he views as a triumph for democracy when the people themselves react to the news from the National Security Agency activities around all forms of communications in the Five Eyes countries.  “Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness,” says Snowden.  “For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we see the outline of a politics that turns away from reaction and fear in favor of resilience and reason.”  Related article: Toronto Star – Alok Mukherjee   ‘We are at risk of turning into a surveillance society’: Alok Mukherjee – Toronto Police Services Board chair says it’s time to stop keeping information obtained from carding in searchable databases

 CBC News – Dean Beeby
Aboriginal Affairs spending shortfall amounts to $1B, internal document says – 5-year federal analysis of ‘lapsed’ spending lists top underspending departments 

Less than a week after a devastating Truth and Reconciliation Report and after a considerable period of hearing about poverty on the reserves comparable to the poorest third world nations, Canadians must be profoundly disturbed and wondering what the real agenda is when $1 billion dollars allocated already in budget goes back to the treasury without being spent.  Aboriginal Affairs is the only social program but at least seven departments are regularly suffering from lapsed funding, including the RCMP, defence, CSIS, Veterans Affairs.  Government defends itself by suggesting the savings represent good management!

iPolitics – Tasha Kheiriddin
The Harper government mashes the terrorism button again 

The war against terrorism on the home front has three new initiatives to keep us safe: there is an increase in funding to CSIS, an increase in funding to Revenue Canada to investigate charities, and increased funding to put biometrics in place at the border.  “Some in the charitable community fear that the crackdown on terrorist-related charities could target more than just jihadists … that the Criminal Code puts charities at risk due to the activities of their supporters, people they are not necessarily able to control.”   Related article: CTV News – Katie Simpson Biometric screening under scrutiny over privacy concerns

National Newswatch – Deveryn Ross
A lack of leadership, a squandered opportunity 

Ross breaks down the 94 recommendations from the TRC executive summary into those that are doable with ease and little expense and those which may require some study and expense.   Of the 94, he says, 70 are easy and inexpensive.  Of the remaining 24, 8 are directed at non-governmental organizations and 16 may require some time and attention.  In the light of the analysis, Ross wants to understand why Stephen Harper has decided to do nothing until the full report (6 or 7 volumes) is issued.  Likewise, Ross is critical of Justin Trudeau’s impulsive endorsement of all 94.   Related article: Globe and Mail –   Bill Curry   Battle lines drawn over preservation of documents detailing abuse at residential schools

Toronto Star – Tara Deschamps
Have jurors won the right to Google the accused? Judge declines to toss conviction of brothers despite revelation of online researching

Two brothers were convicted of several charges; one of the jurors was later overheard at a coffee shop acknowledging having searched Google for information not presented in court.  Justice Gladys Pardu, on behalf of a panel of three judges, threw out an appeal saying that “jurors do not live in a bubble” and “will be inevitably exposed to some aspects” of the publicity of a case, but that doesn’t always compromise a trial.”   Some think the decision is going to be influential for the future.

Globe and Mail – Gordon Omand
Vancouver police nix judge’s order to clean jail cells of feces, vomit, blood: lawyer

The judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce, ordered the police to clean up the lock-up and make it safe and protective of health for the inmates.  But the judge’s order could not be a legal directive – only moral authority – so the Vancouver police decided that the standards of the judge were simply not attainable and ignored her.  The jail handles 14,000 people per year.  Terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were then transferred to facilities further away and trial time shortened.

CBC News – Adrienne Arsenault
Mystery man spends decade in immigration detention centre 

An unidentified man, likely from South Africa, has been locked up for almost eleven years on the offense of not having any papers.  New information points to the possibility that this man is in fact a hero of the struggle for freedom in South Africa.  Canada’s immigration laws permit detention indefinitely in the case of an absence of papers and identity. The link is a four minute video report.