Income inequality and human rights…

March 31, 2016

Open Democracy – Gaby Oré Aguilar and Ignacio Saiz
Tackling inequality as injustice: four challenges for the human rights agenda

The insistence here is that the global inequality of income that creates poverty and misery is a violation of human rights but that to have this discussion there are four challenges or principles to be honoured:  Conceptualizing economic inequality as a human rights concern; Articulating the normative basis for addressing economic inequality; Developing strategies for accountability; Adapting methodologies for measuring, monitoring and mobilizing.  Read on…

CBC News – Marnie Luke
Insurance company drops ‘discriminatory’ policy on suicide attempts – Desjardins Group becomes first insurer confirmed to have removed controversial clause from benefits plan

Life insurance policies generally have an exclusion clause – a refusal to pay – in the event that a policy holder kills self or incurs medical costs for injures while trying to commit suicide and surviving.  Desjardin has announced that at least in the case of the group insured under CAMH the exclusion will be lifted.  Other insurers have not followed suit nor has Desjardin yet announced the removal of the exclusion to other group policy holders.

Press Release from Tonia Grace, John Conroy and Stephan Thliveris
Attorney General vs Whaling, Attorney General vs Liang

Whaling and Liang are federal inmates in BC whose sentences were extended because of retroactive application of new parole regulations.  The suit claims that the sentence is replicated after the court imposed its original sentence, and that the extended sentence violates the Charter of Rights and Freedom.  The plaintiffs are seeking certification as a class action and would like to proceed with simplified action on affidavits as a way to reduce costs and handle a cross Canada class membership.   Contact:  John Conroy at 604-852-5110 or .

Blogger Emile Therrien, Public Affairs Advocate (Tel: 613-737-4965)
Response to the trial and sentencing of Marco Muzzo

The death of four members of a family-three children and their grandfather- by drunk driver Marco Muzzo in that horrific road crash in Vaughan, Ontario last September 27 will renew the call by many to reduce the criminal limit for drunk driving to 0.05 BAC from the current 0.08 level. Canada set the current criminal blood alcohol level (BAC) at 0.08 for impaired driving over 35 years ago.
An internal federal government study in 2010 warns that lowering the bar for drunk driving convictions could overwhelm the justice system. The Justice Department says that courts, police services, and jails could be pushed to the breaking point if the federal government ever lowered the criminal drunk-driving threshold.
Canada’s practice of not using criminal law for drivers under 0.08 is in line with the approaches taken in other countries. Canada’s impaired driving laws are among the strictest in the western world. Lowering the criminal limit would nullify many effective countermeasures now in place. If criminal charges were to be laid below the current threshold, that many more, if not all, would be challenged. A significant concern and risk in reducing the criminal limit below a point most Canadians would consider unreasonable is that it would encourage contempt, disrespect, and disdain for the law. Unquestionably, this would weaken the resolve of the criminal justice system (police, courts) to enforce the law. The current criminal BAC limit has been universally accepted by Canadians and the criminal justice system for well over 35 years. Tinkering with this criminal limit could well open the doors to a barrage of defence challenges! Frivolous criminalization will not protect the public. There is absolutely no evidence that charging low-BAC (0.05) drivers under the criminal code would prevent more deaths and injuries than measures now in place in provincial and territorial regulations. When it comes to dealing with impaired driving, the current administrative and criminal sanctions in place in Canada provide a well thought-out mix of effectiveness, efficiency and severity. Let’s keep it that way! What is needed is to increase the perception of apprehension, and to improve the system’s efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with impaired driving offenders.  (Ed note: Thanks to Emile for permission to publish.  Please note that the BAC under .008 is still confronted under provincial Highway Traffic Acts.)

Jacobin (US) – Victoria Law

Against Carceral Feminism – Relying on state violence to curb domestic violence only ends up harming the most marginalized women.

In the current controversy around the Ghomeshi case and its implications for the protection of women reporting sexual assault, Law offers a biting critique of “carceral feminism,” which, she thinks, more often than not leads to more violence against women.  She says, “While its adherents would likely reject the descriptor, carceral feminism describes an approach that sees increased policing, prosecution, and imprisonment as the primary solution to violence against women.”   Related article:  Sawbonna (Canadian)  – Margot Van Sluytman   Sawbonna: Sibling of Restorative Justice