‘Withering rights’…

Dec 17, 2019

CBC News – H.M. Jocelyn
Canadians travelling to or through U.S. should pay close attention to their withering rights

Jocelyn, a Canadian from Stratford, ON, is a PhD candidate at Rutgers and warns of what she calls “the withering rights” of Canadians in the US pre-clearence zones when crossing the US/Canada border.  “This new authority also allows U.S. border guards to deny Canadians their right of withdrawal. Before the amendment to the law was enacted, if a person felt at all uncomfortable in the course of preclearance questioning she could simply leave, retracting her intention to cross the border with no penalty…Now, as a result of amendments, the guard is entitled to detain her if he finds “reasonable grounds” to do so. And the request to leave in itself could be construed as reasonable grounds.”  https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/opinion-border-crossing-rights-1.5382547

Toronto Star – Jeremy Grimaldi
Domestic abuse reports spike at Christmas time in York Region

Grimaldi is reporting a reality true for throughout Canada as well as York Region that domestic abuse will spike during Christmas.  “The holidays, which often involve a lot of drinking, is among the worst times of the year for domestic abuse.”   Workers expect a 25% increase in domestic abuse and a 33% increase in the use of family shelters.  Alcohol and financial pressures are often immediate causes.  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/12/16/domestic-abuse-reports-spike-at-christmas-time-in-york-region.html

Global News – Leslie Young
Half of homeless people have experienced traumatic brain injury: study

An increasing number of sources are concluding that our practice of treating social problems in silos of individual problems and individual responses ignores reality such as this latest BC study around homelessness.  An astounding one half of homeless people also suffer from brain injury:  “Not only did the researchers find that around half of homeless people had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in their lifetime, they also found that one quarter had experienced a moderate or severe injury — defined as being unconscious for at least 30 minutes or a visible injury on an MRI scan with lingering disability.”   https://globalnews.ca/news/6245863/homeless-traumatic-brain-injury/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

K-W Record – Jacques Gallant, Toronto Star
Critics question changes in Ford government’s proposed legal aid law, like how the term ‘low-income’ is nowhere to be found – Here’s what stands out among the changes in the new legal aid bill the province introduced this week.

Severe cutbacks in legal aid funding –a loss of $133 million – will have what these critics view as entirely unacceptable consequences for the vulnerable.  “Neither the term “access to justice” nor “low-income” appears in the Ontario government’s new bill to revamp the legal aid system…The vice-president of the LAO staff lawyers’ union said by removing the terms “access to justice” and “low-income,” the government stripped Legal Aid Ontario of its actual mandate.”  https://www.therecord.com/news-story/9776014-critics-question-changes-in-ford-government-s-proposed-legal-aid-law-like-how-the-term-low-income-is-nowhere-to-be-found/

Ottawa Citizen – Bruce Deachman
Opioids:  Abstinence vs harm reduction

This link offers a four minute exchange between two front line opioid workers on the approach to opioid treatment where the choice is for total abstinence or the use of harm reduction techniques calculated to allow a person to live with limited success and limited addiction.  The video is just over 3 minutes.  The link also explores a new assessment from the medical world that addiction is first found in childhood trauma.   Dr. Kim Silverman, a neurosurgeon at Carlton, says about toxic stress (childhood trauma) is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder: “There’s a movement now to look at addiction as a symptom of acute or chronic post-traumatic stress disorder in childhood.   https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/if-there-was-an-easy-solution-we-would-have-found-it-the-future-of-the-opioid-crisis-in-ottawa

The Gothamist (US) – George Joseph
Manhattan DA Releases New List of NYPD Officers Whose Honesty Has Been Challenged By Judges

The growing awareness of the need for reliable witnesses and District Attorneys who insist on complete integrity in testimony from police officers has led to a fourth New York DA announcing a list of officers whose testimony, based on previous performance, has been determined less than honest by judges.  So far, apart from misconduct under Internal Affairs, some 61 officers are on a list that is making the prosecutors wonder if disclosure of these individuals when proposed as witnesses will need disclosure as well to defence attorneys.  https://gothamist.com/news/manhattan-da-police-cops-list?mc_cid=0b1d97d918&mc_eid=70bc58b4ed&amp=1

KWCH (Kansas, US) – Desmond Nugent
Local advocates hope to push change in criminal justice reform with Smart Justice Act

The ACLU is holding justice reform events and hoping to address the multiple post release problems encountered by felony ex-inmates.  Vernon Smart, convicted for DUI, says:  “A lot of us deal with being on probation, a lot of us deal with checking that box, a lot of us deal with the whole felony situation and a lot of it is not even for a violent crime,” said Smart.  https://www.kwch.com/content/news/Local-advocates-hope-to-push-change-in-criminal-justice-reform-with-Smart-Justice-Act–566217671.html  Link to Smart Justice homepage:  https://www.smartjusticekansas.org/agenda

CBC News – Olivia Stefanovich
New draft ethics guidelines for judges caution them about post-bench work

In one reflection welcoming a review on what work retired justices should do, “former Supreme Court of Canada justice Ian Binnie says he would not have offered the Harper government a legal opinion that ended up being used in a political controversy over a rejected high court appointment.”  In its review of the issue of post retirement work, the Canadian Judicial Council says: “…judges have to respect certain obligations and expectations even after they retire, since they may still be regarded by the general public as representatives of the judiciary.”  https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/stefanovich-post-judicial-employment-draft-revisions-1.5392594

Canada’s National Observer – Chris Hatch & Barry Saxifrage
Global climate summit. COP or Cop-out?

This link is to an analysis of the present state of carbon emissions over the 25 year history of the Conference of the Parties or COP.  The conference failed to deliver a commitment or consensus on the immediate goal to reduce carbon emissions.  The article traces the growth in those emissions over the history of the 25 meetings to reduce the level of Co2.  https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/12/12/analysis/global-climate-summit-cop-or-cop-out

CBC News – Jonathan Montpetit
Finding Fred Christie: The legacies, big and small, of Canada’s reluctant civil rights hero – Portrait emerges of man at centre of top court decision that legalized racism in Canada

Many Canadians would be both surprised and embarrassed to learn that the Supreme Court of Canada once refused to rule the denial of service to a Black man in a Montreal pub as racial discrimination.  Fred Christie, the person involved, had two cops witness the denial and then pursued a lawsuit against the pub.  The 1939 decision from the SCC which ruled 4-1, effectively legalized racial discrimination in Canada be declaring the pub within its rights.   https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/fred-christie-supreme-court-canada-racism-montreal-forum-1.5397730