An honour for SJNC…

    Oct. 4, 2015

Ed note:  All of us here at Smart Justice Network Canada are delighted to announce that the Canadian Criminal Justice Association has awarded SJNC its 2015 CCJA Certificate of Appreciation.  The award reads:
Presented to
for their efforts in pursuit of effective, responsible, criminal justice policy based on dignity for victims, offenders and communities. 
The award was accepted on our behalf at the bi-annual congress of CCJA by Susan Haines of the National Associations Active in Criminal Justice (NAACJ) who highlighted in her acceptance speech that SJNC are “steadfast champions of smart justice in Canada, who continue, day after day, to promote, educate, rally and encourage individuals, groups and communities to engage, to redefine what justice means, and to persist in the face of barriers to equality, fairness and compassion.” 
We at Smart Justice are grateful to Bob Brown of CCJA, who nominated SJNC, and to Susan, for highlighting our contribution in such generous terms, and to both for their personal support of our collective efforts.

CBC News

Ottawa program offering free legal advice for Syrian refugee sponsors expanding nationally – Thousands of dollars of billable hours donated to get refugees here faster

Jennifer Bond, a lawyer and professor at the University of Ottawa, has created the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program and is overwhelmed with the cross Canada response in which lawyers are donating otherwise billable hours to speed up the refugee process.  The Support Program offers training in the complicated process of refugee sponsorship so that lawyers can in turn assist those sponsoring.  So far, lawyers in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, Saskatoon, Fredericton, Timmins and Sault Ste Marie have indicated interest in the effort.    Web site for Refugee Sponsorship Support Program:    Related article:  CBC News (Ottawa, Oct 2, 2015):  Refugee 613, United for Refugees programs unveiled at Ottawa City Hall    Refugee 613 web site:

VERA Institute (US)
Thinking outside the Box: An International Perspective

Vera Institute continues its series on the international standards for the use of solitary confinement in the EU.  The link is to a Youtube video (35 minutes) featuring Jorge Jesse and Maurice Cammah who have been doing exchange visits to prisons and are comparing the practices.  This link contains additional links to a variety of other videos around the same focus.

CBC News – Dean Beeby
Unpublished Justice Department study critical of not criminally responsible law – Report says Conservative changes will result in greater overrepresentation of mentally ill in justice system

Justice Richard D. Schneider, Canada’s foremost expert on the legal troubles faced by mentally ill Canadians, commissioned a study called “The Mentally Ill: How They Became Enmeshed in the Criminal Justice System and How We Might Get them Out.”  The results of the study are at odds with the punishment focus of the Harper government approach found in Bill C-14, the Not Criminally Responsible Act.  Said Schneider:  “The Criminal Code of Canada has emerged as the Mental Health Act of last resort. … I am of the view that we should not continue to expand the role of the courts and the criminal justice system as principal dispensers of mental health care.”

Toronto Star – Ben Spurr
Harper’s pot is ‘infinitely worse’ than tobacco assertion ‘misleading’ — health experts 

The political marijuana debate is heating up again but more with conjecture and bias than with accuracy around the dangers of smoking pot. Harper has recently declared that marijuana is “infinitely more dangerous” than tobacco.  Dr. David Hammond, the Public Health chair of the University of Waterloo, and Dr. Robert Schwartz, executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, see Harper’s latest broadside as “misleading” and “concerning.”   Pot possession has been the most frequent criminal drug charge, accounting for about 70% and known as ‘low hanging fruit’ for police.  Liberals want to legalize and regulate the drug and the NDP wants to decriminalize the possession for personal use.

National Newswatch – Don Lenihan and Susanne Legault
Open Government: Toward a Pan-Canadian Vision? 

Much has been made of the adversarial process of the government and how secrecy is easily invoked and participation by citizenry is all but eliminated.  This link is a commentary by Don Lenihan is Senior Associate at Canada 2020 and an internationally recognized expert in public engagement, democracy and Open Government and Suzanne Legault is Information Commissioner of Canada.  The commentary traces the process of the 2012 commitment to the international Open Government Partnership in the three keys that define open government: open data, open information and open dialogue.   Related article: Toronto Star – Alex Himelfarb   Canada’s dangerously distorted tax conversation – Any reasonable discussion of taxes must take into account the public goods and services they buy. So why doesn’t ours?