Ghomeshi – now what?

April 13, 2016

Policy Options – Blair Crew, Daphne Gilbert, Elizabeth Sheehy
The Ghomeshi verdict: This is no time for complacency

The commentary calls for follow-up to the Ghomeshi verdict and suggests a number of options available to repair the message of futility that as accompanied the verdict for many women.  The authors critique the judge and suggest that the factors of law were not adequately considered.  They advocate for the “Philadelphia Model” and the availability of legal advisors/representatives for all victims.  They also advocate for inadmissibility of post incident behaviour by victims.

Toronto Star – Alex Ballingall
Justice Denied: Huge legal bills push many to self-represent in court – Windsor law professor says more than half of family law litigants now in court without a lawyer 

More than 50% of those going to family court this year will do so without lawyers, says Julie Macfarlane, a law professor and researcher at the University of Windsor.   “We know around half of the people that represent themselves begin with a lawyer. And they run out of money.”   What kind of money? “Average legal fees for a two-day civil trial in Canada jumped 43 per cent to $31,330, from 2014 to last year.”

Globe and Mail – Canadian Press
House of Commons to hold emergency debate on Attawapiskat suicide crisis

NDP MP Charlie Angus has requested and been given an emergency debate in the House about how to respond to the crisis in youth health and the multiple youth attempts at suicide.  The community has declared a state of emergency and federal health care workers have been already dispatched.    Related article:  Globe and Mail – Kathryn Blasé Baum and Bill Currey    Suicide pact feared in wake of earlier rash of attempts in Attawapiskat    Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Elizabeth Payne  Attawapiskat: ‘This community needs help right now’   Related article: CBC News  Desperation in Attawapiskat: First Nation leaders fear for their young – Crisis teams now in northern Ontario community, counselling people affected by suicide crisis   Related article:  CTV News Attawapiskat youth apprehended amidst fears of suicide pact   Related article:  CTV News – Michael Shulman and Jesse Tahirali, CTV Staff     Suicide among Canada’s First Nations: Key numbers

 Ottawa Citizen – Andrew Seymour
 Inmate commits suicide in Ottawa jail

The Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre has another suicide.  An inmate has hanged himself and police are saying that they do not suspect foul play of any sort – the inmate was alone in his cell and discovered at 3 AM.  Police are refusing to name the inmate or to give any further details.  The suicide again highlights the deplorable but continuing conditions in the jail and the failure to correct a host of problems already identified.

CBC News – Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press
‘Limited programs’ in criminal justice system for aboriginal people, mentally ill: report – Co-ordinated action ‘essential to sustainable change,’ says new federal report

A still secret report, prepared by the Public Safety and eight other federal agencies, on the limited services available to Indigenous inmates in the federal prisons runs a parallel to the same scarcity of services to a second vulnerable group, namely the mentally ill.  Both groups represent each and collectively a sizeable portion of the inmate population. The Indigenous are over one quarter and the mentally ill, included the addicted, represent well over half, perhaps closer to 60%.  Correctional investigator Howard Sapers (recently re-appointed) had labeled the prisons a “broken system.”   Researchers say that there are four stops along the way to prison that badly need attention and a fix: in the community, at sentencing, in prison and on release back into the community.  “For both populations there is a need for better co-ordination between federal departments and between [the] federal and provincial government, a more effective use of existing resources, and a need for enhanced programs and services in the community and institutions to meet specific needs,” the study says.

Amherst News Citizen Record (NS) –
Balancing justice with rehabilitation

A few months ago the wellness court was set up to confront the problem of offenders who have mental health and/or addiction problems.  The court also works with offenders who are willing to take responsibility for their crime.  “There has to be a rational connection between the crime that was committed and a persistent mental health or addictions issue,” said Stephanie Hillson, who is manager of Amherst’s Legal Aid.   The goal is re-integration without re-offending.