Truth and consequences…

    Aug. 12, 2015

 Toronto Star – Seth Klein
In our politics, telling the truth gets you in trouble

This theme started as an assessment by NDP candidate Linda McQuaig, a well-known author and researcher in economic policy.  The issue began as a comment on the need to leave tar sand oil in the ground if we are to achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions and the failure of government to provide rigorous environmental impact process and standards as a pre-condition for development.  The issue expands itself easily to ask about truth telling and its consequences in the current election atmosphere of partisan politics.  Where is truth and what price?   Related article: Globe and Mail – Margaret Wente    Will voters get the oil sands debate they deserve?      Related article: Toronto Star – Desmond Cole    Why won’t politicians address the poverty problem? The word “poverty” was not uttered once during the recent federal leaders’ debate.

Toronto Star – Thomas Walkom
Stephen Harper’s terror travel ban more than a diversion

Most analysis of the terrorist travel ban has focus on going to the terrorist war zones and on the Conservative lack of pre-emptive measures.  Walkom is suggesting that the proposed law is purposeful in that it would be easier to charge those returning from ISIL service.  What is also clear is that neither the Liberals nor the NDP are ready to confront Harper’s terrorism measures.  Experts say that the right to leave or enter Canada is not absolute and is already subject to some restriction in recent court rulings.

CBC News (Nova Scotia) – Catharine Turner
Prison deaths in Nova Scotia ‘disturbing,’ says correctional watchdog

Howard Sapers calls the inmate deaths “disturbing.”  This year to date, there have been three deaths in two separate institutions, one for men at Springhill, and two at the women’s prison at the Nova Institution for Women.  There were three more at Springhill since 2010.  Says Sapers: “It speaks very much to both the nature of care in custody in Canada but also who it is that’s going into federal penitentiaries.”    CSC is doing a review but the duty of care for incarcerated people should be at the forefront says Sapers.    Related article: Solitary Watch    Prison Watchdog Says Solitary Confinement in Canada Is “Out of Control”

Ottawa Citizen – Mark Kennedy
The politics of pot: Are the Tories offside with Canadians?

It would seem that the latest Conservative party election policy is on the wrong side of two thirds of Canadians who favour loosening marijuana laws, and the government’s own internal polling confirms the estimate.  Only 13.7% favour the status quo.  The controversy is happening in the shadow of the medical marijuana debate in which government is the largest single payer for prescription marijuana to Canada’s veterans.  Related article:  National Newswatch – Canadian Press     Tory plan would boost funding to RCMP as party pushes tough-on-crime agenda Related article:  Partnership for Drug-Free Kids    Needle Exchanges Gaining Wider Acceptance in Areas Hit Hard By Injection Drug Use

Vera Justice Institute / New York Times (US) – Nicholas Turner and Jeremy Travis
What We Learned From German Prisons

Turner and Travis are addressing what the National Research Council called a “historically unprecedented and internationally unique” experiment in mass incarceration.  They offer advice to the US prison and sentence reform efforts from the perspective of what they saw on a recent visit to German prisons where the incarceration rate is about 1/10 the US rate.  Also of interest is the value of suggesting politicians, like President Obama,  to visit prisons as part of that reform.

Globe and Mail – Helen Forsey
A people’s Senate is within our grasp

This week we can anticipate endless speculation around reforming and abolishing the Senate, an issue where there is more heat than light, filled with the unconstitutional and unworkable.   Here’s a refreshing look at a “People’s Senate” and the historic role repeatedly fulfilled and perhaps possible again.