Guns, law and communities…

May 5, 2018

CBC News – Angela Wright
Canada’s government is clearly uninterested in finding innovative solutions to gun violence

Largely the pre-occupation of urbanites, the question of gun control appears to be elusive, not only in terms of what to do but also the political will to do it.  “…Bill C-71, which amends the Firearms Act to enhance background checks, record-keeping and changes the ways the RCMP can classify firearms, it became abundantly clear that the government has again decided to rest on its law enforcement-heavy laurels.”  The problem, and the traditional approach of government, is to limit the parameters of a solution to law enforcement, a false focus already demonstrated by the stats for Toronto:  594 shooting victims in 2017, more than double the number of victims in 2014.  Then there is the deterioration of police-community relations that accompanies any police task force dedicated to guns and gangs, enforcement.

Ottawa Citizen – Maggie Parkhill
Journalist charged in criminal, civil courts wins press freedom prize

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom has given Justin Brake, an APTN reporter, an award for his coverage of the Muskrat Falls events.  Brake sees the award as bittersweet, given that he faces both civil and criminal charges for his determination to accompany the protestors, eventually closing down the project on Indigenous land.  Brake himself may be prophetic in anticipating the scene around the Kinder Morgan pipeline and current threats to begin charging protestors criminally.   Related article: Ottawa Citizen: Paul Adams –   Press freedom, like liberal democracy, is struggling

Toronto Star – Vicky Mochama
The Safe Third Country Agreement doesn’t work. Just ask the thousands of people walking across the Canada-U.S. border

The agreement was designed to allow immigration authorities to send refugees / immigrants back to the country from which they arrived in Canada, provided that the country was considered safe and not a threat to the person.  If the immigrant first arrives in a safe country and is denied status then the same immigrant cannot step over the border and apply in Canada.  This commentary is highlighting the question as regards the safety of the US when immigrants arrive in Canada from the US.   “Of the 7,800 people seeking asylum who have so far been processed by the immigration department, over 3,000 were intercepted as they walked across the border. The vast majority crossed into Quebec. The RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency anticipate more people will make the journey now that the warmer months have arrived.”

Toronto Star – Roy McMurtry and Eva E. Marszewski
The new Toronto megacourthouse is not for youth

The Ontario decision to force children as young as 12 to attend criminal court is flying in the face of decisions made decades ago that wisdom dictated separate spaces for youth from adult criminal cases.  The authors remind us: “The Ontario Court of Justice at 311 Jarvis St. reflects the goals of Canada’s youth justice legislation, which is specifically designed to address young people’s heightened vulnerability and potential for rehabilitation.”  The government motive for what the authors consider a serious error in youth justice appears to be fiscal and the fact that such a facility concentrating youth services in one place is impossible in many smaller places.

Toronto Star (Editorial – May 3, 2018)
Apologies are fine, but Indigenous children need help now

The Star editorializes that though it is well that the Canadian Parliament has asked the Pope to apologize for the Catholic role in Residential Schools, there remains the defiant and persistent underfunding by the federal government of the Indigenous people in housing and apprehensions consequent to severe poverty.  “In 2016, in fact, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal slammed Ottawa for discriminating against vulnerable First Nations children by providing less money for child welfare services than would be available off-reserve. Perversely, that creates “an incentive to bring children into care,” the tribunal found.  The Star concludes:  “Apologies are good. Action on present problems is better.”

Philadelphia Inquirer (US) – John Timpane
‘Caged’: How 28 inmates’ tales of prison and poverty became New Jersey’s must-see play

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winner author, has been teaching prison inmates for some years and his students have written, polished and infused this play with a force that is striking its audiences.  “In their stories, the inmates revealed secrets that not even their closest friends in prison knew. One assignment was to write a scene with themselves and their mothers. Hedges tells of one student, who, after reading his scene aloud, was found sobbing in the men’s room.”

CBC News
Special adviser to probe ‘disturbing’ rise in jail violence – Province hiring 26 new security, intelligence officers in attempt to reverse trend

Ontario’s  Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Marie-France Lalonde  is hiring additional specialists to delve into a considerable increase in violent and physical incidents against the guards in Ontario jails.  In 2016, and through the 25 provincial jails, there were 793 incidents; by the end of June 2017 there were 617 – without the last six months (stats not available yet).  Howard Sappers, former Correctional Investigator for CSC, has been mandated to review and report in 90 days.  The 26 additional officers are to limit smuggling of contraband into the jails.