More prisons…

Sept 28, 2017

CBC News – Alison Crawford
Border agency reports big drop in number of long-term detainees – CBSA has finalized plans to build 2 new immigration holding centres and to retrofit another

The goal seems to be to have three detention facilities for immigrants: one in Toronto, one in Surrey, BC, and one in Lavalle (QC). Overflow would by default go to provincial jails, even though there is no conviction involved. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) says that the rate of long term detention, defined as 90 days plus, has gone down by about 35%. Last year, 6251 people were in custody by immigration and about 1/3 that total were in provincial jails; the provincial jail part is the problematic part, especially when the detention goes beyond the 90 days.   Critic and immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman thinks the plan an improvement but also thinks the real problem is proper oversight of CBSA.  The question is why do we want to spend $138 million on detention centres when the detentions are fewer and Canada has 35,000 in a backlog?   Related article: Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung   Refugee judge’s decision to accept wife and reject husband ‘defies logic,’ lawyer says Related article: CBC News – Stephanie Levitz   Proposed citizenship oath change prompts some to call for more education about Indigenous people – Inclusion of a reference to treaties is the only proposed change to Canada’s oath for newcomers (Text of pledge:  “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”)

Toronto Star – Mohammed Fahmy
I was freed but too many others are still wrongfully imprisoned: Fahmy

This is a poignant story of the two year anniversary of the imprisonment of Mr. Fahmy in Egypt for practicing his journalistic calling in a country intolerant of dissent.  He draws parallels to the many other journalists and war correspondents whose efforts are unwelcomed by hostile governments in a world where only 13% of the global population enjoys a free press.  There are approximately 1,000 Canadians in foreign jails, 259 journalist in jail, and 27 killed in 2017.  Fahmy’s story is also told in a film by David Paperny called Mohammed Fahmy: Half Free.

Globe and Mail – Kelly Grant
U.S. drug maker ordered to slash prices in Canada, pay back millions

Amid widespread conversation about the advantages of a national prescription drug program, one US firm has been ordered to reduce the price of one rare drug.  A panel of the patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) ruled that Connecticut-based Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. charged more for a rare-disease treatment called Soliris than Canadian law allows.”  The drug, which can cost up to half a million dollars a year depending on the quantity needed, was first introduced as a break through drug in 2009.  The company is promising a judicial review of the panel’s directives and will not immediately comply.  If they did comply, the excess charged would go to the federal government, not the users.   Related article: Globe and Mail – Kelly Grant    Ontario to force pharmaceutical companies to disclose money paid to doctors

CBC News – Sherri Borden Colley
After 200 years without land title, Nova Scotia black communities offered hope – Black Loyalists, Black Refugees were given land, but no title, in 1775 and 1812

Indigenous land claims are not the only troubling dispute around land.  Black people in Nova Scotia were given land on two different occasions and paid taxes for a couple hundred years without having the deed in their names.  The Nova Scotia government will spend $2.7 million over the next two years to help Black owners get the deeds.  The problem is particularly troublesome, and expensive to legally resolve, when “migration” of the land title is at play, such as inheritance or sale.

CBC News
Windsor legal clinic part of province’s plan to fight human trafficking- Government announced support for 45 programs across Ontario

The Ontario government has announced 45 projects around human trafficking, including funding to a legal clinic at the University of Windsor. The funding is meant to support victims of human trafficking.  Related article: Community Justice Initiative (Kitchener-Waterloo) Together We Rock  (Link is to a Twitter account of a joint art project between Grand Valley Institution inmates and the local community.)  Related article:  680 News   Therapy dogs ease tensions in Newfoundland’s troubled Victorian-era prison