New look for SCC…

June 25, 2018

National Post – John Ivison
Canada’s new chief justice keen to drag Supreme Court into the light – Wagner indicated Canadians can expect more dissenting opinions than was the norm when McLachlin was chief justice. ‘I like dissent. It’s normal in an open society’

There may be new times ahead for the Supreme Court of Canada.  The new Chief Justice, Richard Wagner, held a press conference on Friday past that went much longer than scheduled.  The suggestion seems to be that the Court will try to be more open and apparent to Canadians and likely more in the public eye, offering both dissent as well as agreement.  There is even a suggestion of moving the occasional case across the country as well.

CTV News – Rachel Aiello
Feds to look at pot pardons post-legalization: Goodale

“According to Statistics Canada, 17,733 people were charged with marijuana possession in 2016, though overall the number of police-reported marijuana offences declined for the fifth year in a row.”  The stat has to do with the ‘low-hanging fruit,’ that is, simple possession, not trafficking.  The legalization, Bill C-45 now scheduled for Oct 17, 2018, has many wondering why continue the prosecution and equally why allow a criminal conviction on possession to stand and create obstacles for so many young people with historic convictions following them.  The comment from Goodale is the initial commitment from the Liberal government to address the issue.

Canadian Lawyer – Aiden Macnab
Feds appealing solitary confinement ruling

The federal government is appealing a BC Supreme Court ruling that laws governing solitary confinement are unconstitutional.  The remedy was to deliver those laws to Parliament for a fix.  The appeal now goes before the BC Court of Appeal to inquire if the use of solitary is in fact contrary to Sect 7 and 15 of the Charter.  “Still before Parliament is Bill C-56, which would put a 21-day limit on solitary confinement, moving to a 15-day limit 18 months after the legislation takes effect. The bill would appoint “independent external reviewers” to those held in solitary confinement for more than 21 days or 90 days in a year.”    Related article: CBC News (BC) – Rafferty Baker   B.C. group files human rights complaint over treatment of federal inmates with mental illness, disabilities – Prisoners’ Legal Services claims discrimination and lack of appropriate care – Geraldine Malone
Why Indigenous Women Are Canada’s Fastest Growing Prison Population – The Aboriginal women inmate population has risen over 100 percent since 2001. These stories explain why so little has been done.

Malone tells the stories of a number of Indigenous women who wind up repeatedly in prison.  The stories are powerful in the almost inevitable consequences for these women who are subjected to extreme poverty, alcoholism, violence and racial prejudice.  Equally stark are the processes that continue the problems inter-generationally.  “In a speech at the Aboriginal Justice Learning Network in 1997, Justice Murray Sinclair—now chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission—said that when it comes to dealing with Aboriginal people and justice issues he is not sure “that one lifetime is enough to do all that needs to be done.”   Related article: VERA Institute Center on Sentencing and Corrections (US) – Jessi LaChance  Women in Segregation  (A new fact sheet)

Dallas (TX) News – Rachel Cohrs
 Company that runs immigration detention centers is top donor for three Texas congressmen

What to date may be the least reported aspect of the detention and separation of immigrant children at the southern US border may be this article.  Critics on mass incarceration have been voicing concerns over the operation of private prisons and the need to keep them full.  Immigration detention is proving another source for profiteering off the vulnerable, not just by private prisons but also by politicians in whose districts these prisons are found.   Nor are the donations exclusive to one party or even the one current in office.   Related article:  iPolitics – Teresa Wright   Canada faces mounting pressure to end safe third country agreement with U.S.   Related article:  –  The Billion Dollar Business of Operating Shelters for Migrant Children

The Star (Halifax) – Canadian Press
Ceremony held to mark grand opening of Nova Scotia Indigenous court

Acting on reconciliation is what Mi’kmaq Grand Keptin Andrew Denny calls the new court in Cape Breton, NS.    Nova Scotia Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Kennedy called the court “ground breaking,” insisting the new court is unique, coming on National Indigenous Peoples Day.  The court will sit once a week to begin.   Related article: Global TV News – Kelly Geraldine Malone  –  Nearly half of youth incarcerated are Indigenous: Statistics Canada    Related article: Global TV News – Colton Praill  Stats Canada: Indigenous youth overrepresented in Saskatchewan prisons 

Huffington Post – Ryan Maloney
Liberal MP Bob Nault:  Tories ‘Playing Politics’ With Remarks On Guns And Mental Issues – The veteran politician says he supports enhanced background checks.

Bill C-71 is a bill to enhance regulations around ownership of firearms in Canada, an issue that usually divides people into rural vs urban. Nault represents the northern Ontario riding of Kenora.  The bill will allow a lifetime background check to prevent people with mental illness from accessing guns.  “I think one of major concerns in today’s gun scenario, and we see it in the U.S. and in Canada, is that there are a lot of mental issues with people who have firearms,” Nault said.  The remarks stirred a Conservation reaction to the link between gun owners and mental illness.   (Included is a 4 minute video of Ralph Goodale explaining the legislation.)

Bureau of Justice (US) – Special Report on Human Trafficking –  Mark Motivans and Howard N. Snyder
Federal Prosecution of Human-Trafficking Cases, 2015

This report is a 15 page pdf outlining almost in fact sheet format the changes in the prosecution of the federal crime of human trafficking for the latest year, 2015.  The report includes a definition of human trafficking and a break down by offence and geography, as well as stats on the prosecution and resolve of the cases.