An uneasy year…

Jan 2, 2017

Ottawa Citizen – Andrew Seymour
Shower cells, segregation, suicides and reform: A year in the life of Ottawa’s troubled jail

Troubles have been so many and solutions so resistant that the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre may well be symbolic of what ails all Ontario   provincial jails.  Seymour’s list of incidents, in spite of repeated recommendations from inquest jurors and others,  is enough to think that this particular jail, and others like it, need at the very least to be completely overhauled, if not closed permanently and personnel retrained and better supervised.  Related article: Ottawa Citizen Editorial (Dec. 22, 2016) Provincial government makes the right move on bail reform

CTV News
At least 744 assisted-deaths in Canada since law passed: CTV News analysis

The Bill C-14 to legal medical assisted dying passed in June and approximately 744 have chosen to have doctors help them die since the bill was passed.  Most experts see the number growing and are anticipating about a 5% rate of those dying to avail of the medical assistance.  The link offers a province by province listing of the number but recognizes that there is no uniform system across the provinces for tracking the information.

The Guardian (UK) – Leo Benedictus
Invasion of the troll armies: from Russian Trump supporters to Turkish state stooges

A Russian troll pretending to be a Nebraska housewife?  An employee of the wumao dang or “50 Cent Party” in China, one of two million?  Harvard says that China is placing 448 million widely support messages a year on the social nets.  The link offers summary status of the troll armies in Russia, China, Israel, Ukraine, North and South Korea, and Turkey.  One relief – it’s getting easier to identify the trolls, especially from language clues.   Related article: The Atlantic – David Frum   How Trump Made Russia’s Hacking More Effective

Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham
Purging Criminal Code of defunct ‘zombie laws’ no simple task

Here’s something surprising about ‘fake news:’ It was once illegal and contrary to the Criminal Code under Section 181.  But it was also struck down by the Supreme Court in 1995 as contrary to freedom of speech.  That gem, plus many other changes in the criminal code can still be found in the Code and   Federal Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould wants to clean up the code of defunct entries.  In some cases, for example, the Travis Vader murder trial in Alberta, the reliance on expired elements of the Code has changed the administration of justice.  The revision will be no small job for government.

Toronto Star – Bob Rae
Addressing indigenous issues requires change at every level

The question lurking in the shadows of issues involving Indigenous people is still very pointed in spite of very real attention from the Trudeau government.  Why does the Crown automatically resist every claim brought by Indigenous people to the Courts?  For 2017, Rae says, the answer to relations between government and the Indigenous people will lie in what these governments do, not what they say.  Rae recognizes the problem inherent in a portion of its citizens – 5% of the population – bringing claims against 95%.  Government lethargy is always compounded by the costs involved in re-dressing the historic and present day wrongs.   Related article: National Post – Christie Blatchford    The year’s best and worst moments in Canadian criminal justice   Related article:  Globe and Mail – Gloria Galloway   Grassy Narrows chief urges Trudeau to cleanup mercury in river

Toronto Star – Editorial (Jan. 1, 2017)
It’s past time to invest in mental health

The Star says that mental health affects us all – one half of us by age 40 will have suffered from some form of mental illness and “nearly one in five, struggle today with mood or anxiety disorders or other afflictions of the mind.”  There is a shortage of physicians for treat – one half of mental health services are presently delivered by family doctors – and tracing the access for services from initial diagnosis to physician access to treatment and follow-up is most discouraging.  The Star wants, for a start, the provinces to accept money on the table for mental health care from the federal government.

Globe and Mail – Colin Busby and Ramya Muthkumaran
Canada should strengthen the safety net for precarious jobs

The article focuses on three types of precarious employment which is persistent in the Canadian economy and perhaps accountable for some of the income inequality: part time, temporary and unincorporated self-employment, all part of what federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau calls “job churn.” The authors offer market conditions and worker preference for the persistence and also offer a couple of prescriptions for relief.