Innocence Canada…

Oct 23, 2016

Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis
Innocence Canada becoming ‘shadow of its former self’ – Funding woes mean organization responsible for 21 exonerations will no longer take on new cases.

Also known as the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, Innocence Canada will soon no longer accept any new cases and is preparing to close its doors, unable to meet its expenses.  The Association has severed notice to its small staff and is struggling to know what to do with its 85 case backlog.  Says Daniel Brown, a Toronto director of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, “It’s a dangerous idea to think that there is nobody ensuring that the justice system got these convictions right.”  The association, founded in 1993 where lawyers volunteer pro bono, has secured 21 of the 27 exonerations in Canada’s history.  Debbie Oakley, Innocence Canada’s executive director, and Innocence Canada’s co-president Ron Dalton hope for “an independent, publicly funded wrongful conviction review commission.”

MSNBC – Photos Matt Black; Words Trymaine Lee
The City: Prison’s Grip on the Black Family – The spirals of poverty and mass incarceration upend urban communities

The link and article is a moving photo-essay on the struggles of Black people in Philadelphia in the face of crime – the fear for personal safety, the fear of gangs, the fear of police, the fear that today will bring more tragedy.  The struggles are about very ordinary things and the power of the stories of the individuals lies in the sense of hopelessness accompanying the choices around daily life that ultimately circumscribes the poverty or prison options for this neighbourhood where the city holds the record for the most imprisonment of any US city.

CBC News – Kathleen Harris
Petition to Parliament calls for end to automatic citizenship to end ‘birth tourism’ – Once 18, a baby born in Canada can sponsor parents and other family members for citizenship

This electronic movement may be more indicative of our current malaise with the immigration / refugee perspective that is calling for limits on our capacity to welcome the stranger.  The real question is likely why would people who wish to raise the child in Canada wait 18 years?  The US and Canada are the only two countries where birth bestows citizenship.  The petition – at 8,886 signatures to date – seeks to end what the petitioners are calling “birth tourism.”

Globe and Mail – Patrick White
First Nations chief calls prisoner’s treatment in solitary ‘inhumane’

The controversy surrounding the arbitrary use of solitary confinement in Canada’s prisons has all but vanished with repeated testimony about the destructive and damaging impact on the mental health of inmates.  Yet cases like this one recur: Adam Capay, an inmate in the Thunder Bay Jail and an Indigenous, has been locked in solitary for four years, a period hugely beyond any rational basis.  Renu Mandhane, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, visited Thunder Bay Jail earlier this month and acknowledged that the case violates both domestic and international law.

Toronto Star – Penny Collenette
Indigenous abuses a secret no longer – Gord Downie’s powerful tribute to Chanie Wenjack can, 50 years after his death, act as a catalyst for reconciliation

Gord Downie, Tragically Hip’s frontman, has put together an extra-ordinary narrative made up of music in an album with a graphic novel and an animated film depicting the life of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, an Ojibwe who ran away from a residential school and died on the side of the railway track he was using to guide his 600 km trip home.  We can be bold in pursing reconciliation says Collenette.  “It’s not a secret anymore.”   Related article: Globe and Mail – ‘His efforts will not go unnoticed’: Gord Downie’s Secret Path shines a light on First Nations and residential schools   (A six minute video)

Globe and Mail – Colin Freeze
Terrorism investigations tax RCMP’s ability to fight Canada’s organized crime

The RCMP is conceding that tracking terrorism in Canada is pre-occupying and demanding of its resources to the detriment of fighting organized crime, guns on the street, trafficking women and other serious criminal pursuits.  “We continue to transfer people out of other areas into counter-terrorism investigations,” RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told a Parliamentary committee earlier this month. “We’ve taken our investigative resources from areas of organized crime and financial integrity work,” he added.”

Ottawa Citizen – Elizabeth Payne
Faith-based hospitals’ right to refuse assisted death will be challenged, Joyal says

Senator Serge Joyal wants the provinces to challenge faith based hospitals about whether they are obligated to participate in medically assisted suicides.  Joyal wants Ontario to pursue a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada to determine if faith based hospitals can legitimately deny participation in the preparation and actual practice.