March 11, 2016

Hill Times – Ally Foster
Tories’ ‘tough-on-crime’ approach has broken Canada’s justice system, say experts

The Hill Times, in the light of the recent Report to Parliament by the Correctional Investigator, assembled a panel of 10 significant experts to inquire about the state of the federal prison system.  The conclusions: prison population is at an all-time high and social services, health care and education are the key to improvement.  Sapers said:  “During this 10-year span, the number of aboriginal inmates grew by 50 per cent, the number of incarcerated indigenous women almost doubled, and the number of black prisoners grew by 69 per cent, said Mr. Sapers.  ‘For young indigenous Canadians, the criminal justice system has become what residential schools were for their parents and grandparents,’ he stated—a sentiment that was echoed by his fellow panelists throughout the discussion.”

Ottawa Citizen – Ian MacLeod
Judges question simple marijuana possession cases as legality remains in limbo

In 2014, 22,000 Canadians were charged with possession of personal use marijuana.  Judges and crowns are reporting that there is still a considerable number of cases coming before the courts and a great deal of confusion about what to do.  Replying to queries, Brian Saunders, director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, says:  “The position we’ve taken is quite simply that until Parliament has enacted a new law, the current law remains in force and if cases are referred to us, we will conduct our usual assessment, and if it meets our threshold test for prosecution, we will continue to prosecute that case.”   Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (March 10, 2016)   Ontario finally gets it right on medical weed

Globe and Mail – Dan Gardner
In 2016, torture is on the ballot. That’s horrific

Gardner reviews the recent history of the political approach to torture of terrorists in the policy of the US.  Though officially the US is a signatory to the UN Convention banning torture, the practical side of the issue continues to haunt US presidents and presidential candidates.  Gardner concludes: “It is horrible to contemplate but somehow, in 2016, torture will be on the ballot in November.”   Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Andrew Duffy   Lawsuit of Ottawa man tortured abroad gets fresh look from Liberals

The Guardian (UK) –
Dangerous global warming will happen sooner than thought – study

The Australians are monitoring the climate warming process by monitoring the per-person use of electricity and a new study suggests that the world will see the dreaded 2% increase in temperature by 2030.    The Paris climate warming conference last year agreed to 1.5 degrees as the maximum allowable limit but 2.0 as the optimum target for reductions.  It would seem that the climate is warming faster than initially expected.

CBC News – Kristy Hoffman
Pimicikamak still waiting on promised help for suicide crisis – Government said mobile crisis unit on its way but community says no resources are there

There have been six suicides since December in this small community north of Winnipeg and there are currently over 100 other youth on a suicide watch list.  The local mayor has declared a state of emergency and the province of Manitoba has dispatched a mobile medical unit from Thompson to intervene and help with the crisis.   Related article: CBC News – Jody Porter  First Nations student deaths inquest: 5 things learned from Indigenous Affairs testimony – First Nation children on reserve have no statutory guarantee their education will be funded

 Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
Winnipeg Street Census – Final Report

The report is a collabourative effort by many social agencies to arrive at more accurate planning data for the homeless.  The report is 120 page pdf with an Executive Summary (pp 2-6).  The Winnipeg team thinks there may well be similarities with other Canadian locations.  The report includes suggestions about how to better use the myriads of volunteers as well.