June 12, 2019

Canada’s National Observer – Fatima Syed
Here’s everything the Doug Ford government cut in its first year in office

Here’s a sobering list of government and agency cuts since the Ford Government of Ontario took office one year ago.  Some of these were delayed cuts, wreaking havoc where agencies operated without knowing the cuts to their current programming.  Under the tag line “protecting what matters most,” the government has now shut down until after the federal election but many pundits think the dame is already done to the Conservative cause in Ontario.  Related article: Toronto Star – Robert Benzie   Poll says Ontario voters ‘less likely’ to vote for Scheer this fall thanks to Ford

Toronto Star – Betsy Powell
Citing ‘unconscionable’ conditions at Toronto South jail, judge imposes 7-year sentence but says man should face no further prison time

Justice Anne Molloy offered a scathing condemnation of Toronto South Detention Center when she sentenced a man convicted of drug trafficking and gun possession to time served awaiting trial – 2 ½ years – because of the conditions the accused went through in detention.  “Tal Singh Fermah “has endured conditions in our institution — our most modern institution in the province — that I consider to be harsh and unconscionable and I don’t think he should serve any more time. I’m just going to sentence him to time served.” Said defence lawyer Nakita Kelsey:  “This is a wake-up call for the authorities at these institutions.”  Critics also acknowledge that this is neither the first for reduced sentences nor the first justice to do so in similar circumstances.  Related article:  CTV News – Patrick Cain   Military’s internal prison in Edmonton ‘vastly underutilized,’ report says

Policy Options – Veldon Coburn
Why are the deaths of Indigenous women and girls ungrievable?

MMIWG Commission chair offers a new understanding about the deaths of so many “the type of genocide we have in Canada is death by a million paper cuts for generations.”   Coburn is suggesting, with American philosopher Judith Butler, Canadians are struggling to grieve because of “prevailing apathy towards the lived experience of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.” Rebecca Moore, an I’nu woman and member of the National Family Advisory Circle to the Inquiry, says in the final report:   “Being an Indigenous woman means living under a society and ‘civilization’ that benefits from your voicelessness, invisibility, disappearance, non-existence, and erasure,” The report includes statistical info on how the politics and media portray the relationship of Canadian and Indigenous people themselves.

WFSA News 12 (Alabama, US)
Ala. governor signs chemical castration bill into law

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law the chemical castration of anyone convicted of a sex crime against a child under the age of 13 before and as a condition of parole.  The law requires that the Department of Health administer the castration which would reduce the production of testosterone.  Besides the obvious human rights and cruel and unusual punishment issues, critics says the effort is misdirected since the abuse of the child stems from power and control issues, not sexual gratification.

CBC News
Supervised consumption site in federal prison will be 1st in Canada, says union

Drumheller Institution, a federal prison in southern Alberta is scheduled to open the first ever safe injection site in a Canadian federal prison.  The prison already has a needle exchange program and the site is expected to open by the end of this month.  “The new facility would be a sterile place for people to consume illegal substances under the supervision of health professionals.”  Jeff Wilson, the national president of the Correctional Officers union says:  “Not only is it a harm reduction strategy but it’s also an overdose prevention strategy too … the correctional officer is the first responder when [inmates] overdose, we’re the ones going in the cell, we’re the ones to administer CPR or the ones to administer first aid. We’re not doctors and we’re not nurses.”  Related article: Reuters News Agency (US)  – Sarah N. Lynch   Woman with opioid addiction to get regular methadone treatment in prison

National Housing Strategy – Stefania Seccia
Housing Rights Advocates Welcome Critical Amendments to National Housing Strategy Act

Here is good news for the homeless in Canada.  The federal government has accepted housing as a right of all Canadians and has accepted amendments to the National Housing Strategy Act to bring about changes to support the right.  “The amendments introduced by Minister Maryam Monsef accompany right to housing amendments proposed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance May 29. Together, these amendments make a strong and clear federal commitment to housing as a fundamental human right and add an innovative new rights-based accountability model that gives a meaningful voice and role to people with experience of homelessness and housing need.”  The legislation, Bill C-97 has passed its first reading in the House of Commons.   Text of Bill C-97 – National Housing Strategy Act

APTN National News – Mark Blackburn
‘It’s disappointing’: Corrections maintains status quo as number of Indigenous women tops 40% of prison population

It’s almost an ‘I told you so’ post-script to the MMIWG report to hear that the number of Indigenous women in prison is now surpassing 40% of the number of women in prison in Canada.  Perhaps the news will add an urgency to resolving the issues raised by the report and the suggestion that Indigenous women are invisible and inconsequential to both the justice system and the Canadian public.  Advocates want a Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous Corrections Canada:  Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator for CSC, has long advocated:  “A Deputy Commissioner and a clear commitment to significantly reallocate and transfer responsibilities to Indigenous communities for the care, custody and supervision of Indigenous offenders would go a long way to address the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the MMIWG.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Laurie Monsebraaten   Proposed healing lodge for Indigenous women sparks controversy in Scarborough

CBC News – Olivia Stefanovic
Cold comfort: Families of missing and murdered Indigenous women pin hopes on national police task force

Among the concerns flowing from the final report of the MMIWG Commission there is a growing concern that policing methods and motives have been a significant element in the failures revealed.  The proposal for a national police task force likely needs clearer definition of expectations according to the experts.  “If the hope is that there’s going to be a host of new charges being laid and a host of convictions coming out of this, I suspect this is not going to be the case, and so families will be disappointed,” said Christian Leuprecht, a professor of political science at Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University who has written about the RCMP…If the objective is to go back and understand what went wrong and what we can do better going forward, than I think this will be a fruitful effort.”

Inside Edition (Arizona)
Aid Volunteer Faces 20 Years in Prison for Giving Food, Water and Shelter to Migrants Crossing U.S. Border

A once more co-operative relationship between border guards and residents saw a more humanitarian care for immigrants in dire straits after days walking in the desert.  Now, this volunteer, Scott Warren, 36, of Ajo, Arizona, faces jail for offering assistance to people in obvious medical distress.