Robust facts…

Nov 29, 2016

 International Press Freedom Awards – Christiane Amanpour

Amanpour was recently awarded the Burton Benjamin Award of the International Press Freedom “for her extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom.”  At the presentation of the award Amanpour offered this reflection on the contemporary crisis around news reporting, and its intrinsic link to the protection of democracy.  “Recommit to robust fact-based reporting without fear or favor–on the issues.  Don’t stand for being labelled crooked or lying or failing.  Do stand up together–for divided we will all fall.”

Globe and Mail – Robert Fife and Steven Chase
Trudeau’s lead on legalizing marijuana lobbied during cash-for-access fundraiser

The lobbying reports like this one around fundraising are key to understanding that the proposed legalization of marijuana is going to be big profit opportunity and there are major players already pursuing participation and advantage, though the legislation is not likely before spring of 2017.  The Cannabis Friendly Business Association (CFBA) will get refunds of donations from the Liberal Party of Canada.   The practices are skating pretty close to the edge of appropriate ethics.

 National Newswatch – Jim Bronskill
Liberals renew, broaden hate-crime prevention fund for groups at risk

The federal government wants to offer religious groups and those subject to hate crimes a way to improve the security and safety of their buildings.  Begun 9 years ago, the modest $1 million has funded smaller qualifying projects to a maximum of $100,000.  Additionally, the funds are now available to those vulnerable to attack as well as those who have already been damaged by hate crime.

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Judges’ defiance of victim surcharge sparks debate on limits of judicial role

The question seems to be the role of a judge when confronted by what the judge deems an unfair penalty. Ontario Court Justice Colin Westman refused to demand payment from the poor under the mandatory victim surcharge rules. Said Westman:  “I can be honest and say I didn’t ponder the legal implications of it. I react emotionally to things, and it was just morally wrong.” Others in the legal community think the law is the law.

Globe and Mail – Matthew Coon Come
The indigenous women of Val-d’Or deserve equal justice

The writer, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, offers an assessment of the Val d’Or 38 allegations against Sureté police offices.  None of the officers have been charged, even though an initial inquiry by the Sureté itself was replaced by a second inquiry by the Montreal police.  Now, the Director of Prosecutions reported that none of the 38 complaints against SQ officers would be prosecuted.  Coon Come wants a provincial inquiry into the relations between the Indigenous community and the police / justice system.

VERA Institute for Justice (US)
Re-imagining prisons

VERA, a well-respected US monitor around criminal and prison issues, is alarmed at the mass incarceration and the possibility that the efforts to reform the criminal justice system will dissolve without results.  The link brings you to a one and one half minute video graphic that suggests Germany system as a model for reform.

Conversations That Matter (Simon Fraser University, Centre for Dialogue)

Louise Mandell, a distinguished lawyer and advocate for the rights of Indigenous people for forty years, offers an update on the status of the legal paradigm for Indigenous issues such as distinguisher rights.   (A 24 minute conversation: Episode 113 – Reconciliation – You may need to subscribe to get access)

Florida Politics (US) – Florence Snyder
In Saint Augustine, a dead priest pleads for the life of his killer

The death penalty in the US has been diminishing as an option for some time.  This article brings a new tactic and vision to the struggle to end the death penalty in a state where it survives and will likely be one of last states to repeal the option of executions.  In 1995, a Catholic priest and prison chaplain, Father Rene Robert, wrote a last will and testament type letter called a Declaration of Life, signed before a notary, and declaring he is inalterably opposed to the death penalty, even as a tortured victim of a murder.  The declaration has moral weight only and has no legal weight.

CNN Politics (US) – Michelle Kosinski, Allie Malloy and Wesley Bruer
Obama commutes 61 prison sentences

With limited time left in his mandate, US President Obama has been exercising the presidential prerogative to pardon people convicted of mostly non-violent and often drug related crime for which the most severe of federal sentences were imposed.  With this latest group, he has already surpassed all previous presidents in pardons and second chances.  Like Roger Caron, may we say Go Boy!