Who counts the dead?

Oct. 6, 2017

Ottawa Citizen = David Reevely
Ontario’s jails can’t even count their dead, review finds

Former federal correctional investigator Howard Sapers, now an advisor to Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services, has a new version of the old question: how bad are things?  The answer seems to be so bad that the Ontario system cannot tell how many have died in custody, an extremely odd failure given that the ministry first and foremost is charged with the personal safety of inmates.  Sapers has 62 recommendations for the ministry.  Minister Marie-France Lalonde is promising and claims to have already begun defining and reform the present system in keeping with Sapers’ recommendation.  http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/reevely-ontarios-jails-cant-even-count-their-dead-review-finds

Globe and Mail – Kristy Kirkup
Sixties Scoop deal to compensate victims, fund reconciliation foundation

The federal government counter-offer to a lawsuit for $1.3 billion is a maximum of $800 million consisting of $750 in liability damages and a further $50 million in ancillary healing foundation money.  In February the Ontario Superior Court found the federal government liable for the practice and consequences of the 60’s scoops that took children from families and placed them in non-Indigenous adoption.   The settlement does not include all Indigenous people affected by the practice but only status and Inuit.  https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/sixties-scoop-deal-to-compensate-victims-fund-reconciliation-foundation/article36514912/

Globe and Mail – Jessica Leader
Poverty-law lawyer Vince Calderhead’s mission to change the justice system

A veteran anti-poverty lawyer with 30 years experience has just been supported by the law firm Pink Larkin to a pro bono position with the firm. Vince Calderhead, 63, has garnered a national reputation for getting struck down legislation which offends the human rights of poor people.  Calderhead retired from Legal Aid Nova Scotia and accepted the position with Pink Larkin who will pay him while he delivers pro-bono services to the poor and marginalized, a first and a novel service in Canada.   https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/poverty-law-lawyer-vince-calderheads-mission-to-change-the-justice-system/article36514338/

CBC News – Matt Kwong
Even the NRA wants a review of bump stocks after the Las Vegas shooting – If you only learned about this rifle attachment this week, you’re not alone

This article about the gun laws in the light of the Las Vegas shooting pushes the limits of credibility, so much so that even the notorious National Rifle Association and prime supporter Donald Trump are ready to support banning the device used to turn semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic (bump stocks).  While the parameters of the proposal are not yet clear, any limit on guns is likely to be helpful.  Were we American, we would say that “I am from Missouri on that one.”  What may be more beneficial to know is that Republicans like US Speaker Paul Ryan do have a point at which they can be embarrassed with blind support to the dictates of the NRA funding.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/las-vegas-bump-stocks-shooting-legislation-ban-nra-1.4342901   Related article: Toronto Star / Associated Press – Erica Werner   NRA calls for federal review of ‘bump stock’ devices like those used by Las Vegas shooter  https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/10/06/nra-calls-for-federal-review-of-bump-stock-devices-like-those-used-by-las-vegas-shooter.html   Related article: The Nation – George Zornick      Don’t be fooled: The NRA doesn’t Want to Ban ‘Bump Stocks’  Lettting the ATF handle this decision probably means nothing will happen  https://www.thenation.com/article/dont-be-fooled-the-nra-doesnt-want-to-ban-bump-stocks/

Globe and Mail – Gloria Calloway
Ottawa passes legislation to protect journalists’ anonymous sources from police

The beginning of our more focused pre-occupation with terrorism also brought a growing dispute between the police, in particular the RCMP, and journalists in Canada.  Bill S-231, sponsored by ex-journalist and current Conservative MP Gérard Deltell, revisits the Canadian Criminal Code and the Canada Evidence Act to legislatively allow anonymous source protectio0n to journalists.  https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-passes-legislation-to-protect-journalists-anonymous-sources-from-police/article36497819/   Text of Bill S-231:  Journalistic Sources Protection Act – An Act to amend the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code (protection of journalistic sources)   https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/S-231/

National Post – Brian Platt
MPs backtrack, drunk canoeing may continue to be treated as impaired driving

Liberal MP Colin Fraser, after lobbying by safe boating advocates (Canadian Safe Boating Council), has accepted a modification in Bill – C-46 which excluded the practice of applying drunk driving laws to paddling canoes and even kayaks.  The term “vessel” is apparently not define under the drunk driving laws.  Fraser and the committee gave unanimous consent to the change.  http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/mps-backtrack-drunk-canoeing-will-continue-to-be-treated-as-impaired-driving

CBC News – Catherine Cullen
Canada’s largest grower ‘comfortable’ with federal government’s pot tax plan – Questions remain about how pot tax will affect black market drug sales

The Canadian government has announced a dollar per gram up to $10 and 10% tax on anything greater than $10 on the sale of marijuana.  Many retailers of both recreational and medical product  question if the addition of this unforeseen tax by the federal government will over-price the product and allow a black market product to flourish.  The tax is additional to both federal and provincial sales tax already in place.  “Bruce Linton, founder and CEO of Canopy Growth Corp, notes that it’s lower than the excise tax on other “optional or luxury products,” such as alcohol.”  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canopy-growth-pot-producer-tax-plan-1.4329045   Related article: CBC News – John Paul Tasker   Premiers resist federal proposals for excise tax on legal cannabis – Trudeau pitched splitting tax revenue 50-50 with the provinces   http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/first-ministers-meeting-indigenous-1.4318370

Toronto Star – Bernie M. Farber and Mira Sucharov
Why we need a parliamentary motion to fight Islamophobia

M-103 is a private member’s bill from Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, scheduled for appearance in the House in February and presently before a Parliamentary Committee.  The bill rejects Islamophobia. The Bill is not necessary say the critics.  But Farber, former executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and Sucharov, associate professor of political science at Carleton University, offer a memory of the similarities between the post WWII Canada’s treatment of Jews fleeing the Holocaust.  “…there are too many attempts by too many Canadians to forget. M-103 is an attempt to resist this collective amnesia.  Further say the two authors, the resistance is proof of the reality confronted by the bill. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/10/05/why-we-need-a-parliamentary-motion-to-fight-islamophobia.html

Toronto Star – Editorial Board (Oct. 5, 2017)
It’s time for a smarter approach to drugs…

Reflecting the opinion of Donald MacPherson of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, the Star is advocating the removal of the criminality around what are now ‘illegal drugs.’  The opinion, support and fuelled by harm reduction principles, is growing in acceptance to place such matters, especially in the light of the growing opioid crisis, within the medical context of public health.  One immediate consequence is the growth in safe injection site and the spread of places like bars and restaurants holding opioid antidotes in reserve supply.  “The Global Commission on Drug Policy, a consortium of former heads of state and other senior officials, urges Canadian cities and provinces to do what the federal government seems unwilling to do: pursue “de-facto decriminalization” of use and possession of all drugs so that “people in need of health and social services can access them freely, easily, and without fear of punishment.”  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2017/10/05/its-time-for-a-smarter-approach-to-drugs-editorial.html

 Globe and Mail – Renata D’Aliesio, Les Perreaux, Allan Maki
Ottawa, military in joint offensive to save soldiers from suicide

More than 70 vets from the Afghanistan war have killed themselves since returning home.  Another six suicides are accounted for in combat deaths.  Recognizing the failure, the Canadian government through the Minister of Veteran Affairs Shamus O’Regan has announced a joint prevention program with the veteran associations, a rare collaboration.  The plan calls for a full time expert psychologist in suicide prevention, more screening for members of the Forces, pre-deployment prevention training, and better support services on exit from the forces.   https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canada-unveils-sweeping-new-strategy-to-tackle-military-suicide/article36498970/