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Feb 29, 2020

Toronto Star – Warren (Smokey) Thomas, Contributor and president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Ford hires U.S. firm to push Ontarians off welfare

A hit team against the poor and vulnerable? A US company will get paid for its speed in pushing people off the welfare rolls, says Thomas.  So far, the push-them-off program has begun in Peel, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka-Kawartha.  “This is Ford’s government of the people? First he forces down the minimum wage and then pushes poor and disabled off assistance into low-paid work?”   Food insecure and people with addictions will likely be hit hardest in this measure.

Toronto Star – Heather Mallick
Women know when men are planning a femicide, but courts don’t

The well-known columnist makes a startling point around the murder of women and girls in Canada.  Using two incidents – The Desmond case in Nova Scotia and the Brown case in Milton, ON, Mallick says:  “Two women and two girls might have been saved but for one problem. It is so difficult for a woman to convey to others that a man is a violent danger to her. You come to live inside the head of a man who has done you harm and lingers to do worse. But depending on the specifics of the case, you have to convince one or many of the following: police, judges, lawyers, social services, nurses, doctors, therapists, gun-sellers, firearms officers, friends, and family.”

Toronto Star – Margaryta Ignatenko
Ontarians sign open letter calling for justice for mentally ill man who died in Ontario jail

This link and article continues to raise issues with the difficulty of getting the criminal system – the jails, prisons, and those who make decisions about ho goes there – to be accountable for what happens to inmates once imprisoned.  Further, the decision process and the resources for handling the mentally ill is in desperate need of critical examination and re-focus on health needs.  Senator Kim Pate:  “Given all we know about the inability of prisons to respond appropriately to individuals with mental health issues, it would be preferable for the government to invest in mental health services in the community and focus on decarcerating those with mental health issues.”

Toronto Star – Betsy Powell
Man pleads guilty in Toronto police’s largest gun seizure. He was caught with 60 handguns smuggled from Florida

Here’s an explanation of how handguns are coming to Canada and distributed, in this case, to the Toronto criminal element.  While two of the three accused are now dead, the third pleaded guilty to trafficking in firearms and faces 10-15 years in prison.  The 60 handguns were valued at an average of $2500 per weapon.  No one is suggesting that the catch makes much of a dent in the supply chain.

National Post – Stuart Thomson
‘Canada is broken,’ say majority of Canadians in poll taken in wake of rail blockades

This article and the link may be a good ‘still shot’ of where we are in the relations between the government, the people of Canada, and the First Nations.  If we can accept that the population of Canada is reflected well in this analysis, then the next question is how to resolve the inheritance of colonialism and how to fix the harm done to First Nations.  The data, here and elsewhere, clearly insists that our contemporary political malaise is deriving from unresolved historic blights that are still growing.  The traditional solution is to quickly place the blame and then power through a one-sided ‘solution.’  Who can offer an alternative?  The impasse cannot be the last word.  Related article: Global News – Darrell Bricker  COMMENTARY: Where do Canadians stand on Wet’suwet’en solidarity blockades and reconciliation?   Related article: CBC News – Rosemary Barton  Over 20 years ago, we had a plan to repair the Crown-Indigenous relationship. What happened?  A glance back at the RCAP report offers a fascinating glimpse at the road not taken   “But at a time when many Canadians are wondering where a path forward for that relationship can be found, it’s worth remembering that we’ve been here before. And some of the proposals that have been gathering dust for 24 years are worth a second look.”   Related article – Globe and Mail – Pam Palmater    Clearing the lands has always been at the heart of Canada’s Indian Policy

 Toronto Star – Kate Allen, Wendy Gillis and Alex Boutilier
Facial recognition app Clearview AI has been used far more widely in Canada than previously known

This report says that the use of facial recognition software by police and other agencies has already gone further than first reported. “On Thursday, a dozen police forces and private businesses confirmed their officers or employees had used the technology, including nine forces from across the country that had previously told the Star they did not use Clearview AI. The U.S. company uses artificial intelligence to match people’s images against a database of billions of photos scraped from the internet, including social media sites, and has been called “reckless,” “invasive,” and “dystopian” by critics.”  Related article: CTV News – Nicole Bogart   RCMP admits to using controversial Clearview AI facial recognition technology   Related article: Toronto Star – Jenna Moon  8 things you should know about Internet privacy, facial-recognition and Clearview AI

The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime
National Justice Network Update:  Could a National Policy on Gender-Based Violence be a Success in Canada?

This article is worth a deep read and long reflection.  Presented in calm and cool contrasts the document asks if the effort to address violence against women should be focused on women or should it be focused on gender?  The choice of the strategy leads to different considerations and likely different outcomes.   (Ed note: This article, and several others dealing with the sexual assault issues, is found in the February issue. The Newsletter from Victims of Crime is available directly at:  )  Related article: Toronto Star- Jacques Gallant   This GTA teacher was accused of sexually assaulting a student. Now the charges are dropped, but can life go back to normal?