Who we are…

June 30, 2016 

Happy Canada Day!

“Democracy is not easy. It’s hard. Living up to our ideals can be difficult even in the best of times, and it can be harder when the future seems uncertain, or when in response to legitimate fears and frustrations, there are those who offer a politics of us versus them, a politics that scapegoats others — the immigrant, the refugee, someone who seems different than us.

We have to call this mentality what it is — a threat to the values that we profess, the values that we seek to defend. It’s because we respect all people that the world looks to us as an example. The colours of the rainbow flag have flown on Parliament Hill. They have lit up the White House. That is a testament to our progress, but also the work that remains to ensure true equality for our fellow citizens who are Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.

Our Muslim friends and neighbours who run businesses and serve in our governments and in our armed forces and are friends with our children, play on our sports teams, we’ve got to stand up against the slander and the hate levelled against those who look or worship differently. That’s our obligation. That’s who we are.”

(Taken from President Obama’s address to the Canadian Parliament, June 29, 2016)

Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant
Ontario appeal court upholds decision not to accredit evangelical law school

The Trinity Western University covenant with its law students has met another obstacle.  The Court of Appeal has ruled that a decision by the Law Society of Upper Canada not to accredit lawyers from the Trinity Western program was correct in denying the accreditation.  “My conclusion is a simple one,” wrote Justice James MacPherson for a unanimous three-judge panel. “The part of TWU’s community covenant in issue in this appeal is deeply discriminatory to the LGBTQ community, and it hurts.”  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/06/29/ontario-appeal-court-upholds-decision-not-to-accredit-evangelical-law-school.html   Related article:  Toronto Star – Robin Levinson King   How Pride Toronto members react to messages of hate — ‘it’s hard to hear’   https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/06/29/how-pride-toronto-members-react-to-messages-of-hate-its-hard-to-hear.html

CBC News – Canadian Press
Ombudsman wants police to get better training in de-escalation techniques – A rise in police shootings in Ontario prompts calls for better police training

Ontario’s ombudsman Paul Dube thinks we have too many police shootings and is advocating for better training for officers in de-escalation as opposed to confrontational tactics in volatile encounters.  “Dube says there is “ample evidence” the government needs to make the issue a priority and mandate more instruction time in de-escalation techniques, including well over 100 coroner’s jury recommendations calling for improved police training.”   http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ombudsman-police-de-escalation-techniques-1.3657946

Prison Reform Trust (UK)
Rising self-harm rates show growing despair amongst IPP prisoners still stuck behind bars

The research conducted here around the Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) has reverberations for Canada in the life-means-life vs the faint hope clause debate and in dangerous offender designation.  What is absolutely clear from the data is that people without hope of rehab or eventual release are much more prone to self-harming behaviour.   For every 1,000 inmates serving IPP there are 550 incidents of self-harming.  The rate likely has some application to cases where the parole is repeatedly denied or hard to get.   http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/PressPolicy/News/vw/1/ItemID/335?dm_i=47L,4BKCE,6JSCMH,FTRJ2,1   Related article:  Ministry of Justice (UK), Home Office and Department of Health   Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody  – Terms of Reference http://iapdeathsincustody.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/IAP-Terms-of-Reference.pdf?dm_i=47L,4BKCE,6JSCMH,FV7TV,1

CBC News – Hayden Watters
Handle it over: U.S. wants to collect social media info from some travellers – Homeland Security proposes collecting voluntarily, but not for Canadian citizens

The appetite for collecting data seems to have no end, especially in the light of the latest two terrorist events in Orlando and Turkey.  The notion, contained in a proposal from Homeland Security, would ask visitors to the US from certain countries to volunteer to hand over their social media information.  What is not clear is how, once surrendered, the social media detail would be used beyond the visa issue.  Canada is not considering a parallel system for visitors, US or otherwise.   http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/social-media-border-security-1.3655426

CBC News – Jody Porter
Indigenous youth reflect on recommendations from First Nations student deaths inquest – ‘Racism is very, very evident in Thunder Bay,’ says Harley Legarde-Beacham of Fort William First Nation

There are several issues stemming from the inquest into the death of seven Aboriginal students in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  Inquest juries are, for a variety of reasons, often lack Indigenous members but even when the inquest is done, the recommendations – 145 in 18 different areas – are often ignored and without any real authority for implementation.  Now, the results are implicated in allegations of racism.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/first-nations-youth-death-inquests-verdicts-recommendations-1.3656550   Related article: CBC News – Canadian Press     Inquest dubs 3 First Nations youth deaths accidental, while 4 others remain a mystery    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/first-nations-youth-death-inquests-verdicts-recommendations-1.3656550