What’s fair…

May 25, 2020

Toronto Star – Laurie Monsebraaten
Why do provinces often confiscate federal benefits from people who clearly need them?

Why does the government clawback funds desperately needed by people on the edge and often over the edge of survival, and even enduring food security?  Is there something that gives the rest of us comfort with the bureaucrats to have a multiplicity of rules?  Black and white enforcement, sanctioned at the highest levels, seems to replace both need and compassion.  To date, 7.8 million applied for the CERB payments, with many more disabled and part timers in the work force. “In April, Carla Qualtrough, Minister for Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, urged provinces to exempt the emergency federal benefit from social assistance clawbacks “to ensure vulnerable Canadians do not fall behind.”  B.C., Yukon and the Northwest Territories concurred.  The rest insist on partial or total clawback of the payments.  The circumstances of our neighbours, often defined as essential workers as well, is an increasing political argument for a guaranteed basic income for people like Amanda Demerse.      .   https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/05/22/why-do-provinces-often-confiscate-federal-benefits-from-people-who-clearly-need-them.html   Related article: CTV News – Jackie Dunham  ‘Normal was the problem’: Why one expert says we shouldn’t go back to the way it was  https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/normal-was-the-problem-why-one-expert-says-we-shouldn-t-go-back-to-the-way-it-was-1.4948583   Blogger Trish Hennessey – Behind the numbers    Post-pandemic: Towards a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable society http://behindthenumbers.ca/2020/05/21/post-pandemic-towards-a-more-equitable-inclusive-sustainable-society/  Broadbent Institute –What Kind of Economic Recovery do Canadians Want in a Post-COVID world?  https://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/survey   Toronto Star – Linda McQuaig   Let’s not be duped again by deficit hawks peddling austerity   https://www.thestar.com/amp/opinion/contributors/2020/05/20/lets-not-be-duped-again-by-deficit-hawks-peddling-austerity.html?__twitter_impression=true

Toronto Star – Ted Fraser
Eight women named Ontario court judges

Seven of the new judges are named to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and one to the family court.  The appointees, all women, come from a variety of private and public backgrounds.  Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General Lametti has made the appointments to reflect “the changing face of the bench in Canada today — one that features highly-meritorious jurists who reflect the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of the communities they serve.”  The appointments mean that in Ontario there are now 10 vacancies.  https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2020/05/22/eight-women-named-ontario-court-judges.html   City News – Canadian Press   RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role   https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/05/24/rcmp-facing-systemic-sustainability-challenges-due-to-provincial-policing-role/

Dissent (US) – Lyra Walsh Fuchs
Isolation, Death, and Grief at a New York Women’s Prison

The New York State Governor has frequently been seen on TV updating the public on matters around the Coronavirus.  What has not happened is much attention paid to the plight of prisoners who are increasingly dying of the virus.  Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, with its 650 prisoners, is the state’s only maximum security prison for women.  Even when attention is paid, and directions given to the state correctional authority, there is little happening for even the pregnant women in the facility.  Considering the number of elderly prisoners, and the practices and physical condition there for dealing with the virus, one could only hope that whatever is causing the log jam in the releases is cleared quickly.  https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/isolation-death-and-grief-at-a-new-york-womens-prison   Cf also: Twitter link for further commentary. https://twitter.com/i/topics/news/e675371298?cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjcw%3D%3D&refsrc=email  Related article: Arizona Central.com (US) – Aaron Horowitz    Reducing prison population during pandemic is a matter of public health, not politics   https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2020/05/20/early-release-arizona-prisons-matter-public-health-not-politics/5218072002/

 Center for Court Renovation (US) – Matt Watkins
Justice and the Virus with Rachel Barkow

Barkow, New York University law professor and author of Prisoners of Politics is a well-respected scholar and author who comments first on the impact of the Coronavirus on the criminal legal system and then on what we may expect in the future.  Calling the response to date “anemic,” she sees partisan political divide as problematic in the US justice system and at the center of her argument is the redefinition of what we mean by public safety.  She is advocating for judicial discretion on sentencing vs the current mandatory minimums. https://www.courtinnovation.org/publications/post-COVID-Barkow  Related article:  Center for Court Renovation (US) – Matt Watkins The Pathological Politics of Criminal Justice  https://www.courtinnovation.org/publications/rachel-barkow   Cf also Barkow video on who deserves clemency (Go to end of link page – two minute video)  https://its.law.nyu.edu/facultyprofiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=profile.overview&personid=20660 (Site includes a digital link to a number of resources on the politics of justice and sentencing.)  Related article: Toronto Star – Wendy Gillis   Violence ‘is actually on the rise’ and prevention should be part of Canada’s COVID-19 recovery plan, ombudsman for victims of crime warns  https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/05/22/canadas-covid-19-recovery-plan-must-include-domestic-violence-prevention-strategy-federal-ombud-for-victims-of-crime.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

National Newswatch – John Milloy
A basic income program is far from the ‘slam dunk’ many believe

Milloy is a former MPP and Ontario Liberal Cabinet Minister who suggest that the notion of the Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI) is not necessarily fast tracked to implementation.  “Whether intentional or not, basic income advocates often present a bleak view of the future economy – where automation and artificial Intelligence result in huge numbers of jobs permanently disappearing. Even if it’s true, casting basic income in this light has the potential to send a message that robs us of hope – “you may never work again, but don’t worry there will be a program to support you”.   https://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2020/05/23/a-basic-income-program-is-far-from-the-slam-dunk-many-believe/#.XswXOsB7k2y   Related article:  National Post – Sharon Lindores   ‘Everybody will love it’: A four-day work week could help rebuild Canada’s economy post-COVID-19, experts say  https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/floating-the-idea-of-a-four-day-work-week-as-a-way-to-rebuild-canada    Citizens for Public Justice (Canada – CPJ) Press Release:  CPJ Calls for a Just Recovery  https://cpj.ca/cpj-calls-for-a-just-recovery/  also CPJ: Chandra Pasma and Jim Mulvale   Income Security for All Canadians Understanding Guaranteed Income   https://cpj.ca/wp-content/uploads/Income_Security_for_All_Canadians.pdf  ( A dated but perhaps helpful overview of GAI – 12 pages downloadable pdf)  Related article: Vox (US) – Dylan Matthews Basic income: the world’s simplest plan to end poverty, explained  https://www.vox.com/2014/9/8/6003359/basic-income-negative-income-tax-questions-explain (August 2014)   Policy Options (Canada)  – Michael Wolfson   Canada can afford a plausible guaranteed or basic income, but only if it is integrated with a simplified income tax system.   https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/july-2018/how-a-guaranteed-income-could-work/ (July 2018)  Related article: Ricochet (Canada) – Jon Milton  Canada’s economic measures miss opportunities for change, say progressive economists – The pandemic has shown the need to decommodify key sectors like housing   https://ricochet.media/en/3139/canadas-economic-measures-miss-opportunities-for-change-say-progressive-economists

N.Y. Times – Patricia Mazzei
Florida Law Restricting Felon Voting Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules – A federal judge said the law would result in discrimination against felons who cannot afford to pay court fines and fees.

When prisoners are released there often remains a multitude of debts to the prison, fees, fines and financial restoration.  Florida has over a million such former prisoners and when the law changed to allow them to vote, the Republican state legislature required that to be eligible to vote, these prisoners had to pay all the money they owed.  Not so, says a federal court.  The requirement is unconstitutional because it is a poll tax on voting.  Florida is almost always a very close political race in elections.  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/24/us/florida-felon-voting-court-judge-ruling.html#click=https://t.co/X25nz5UOHy   Southern Poverty Law Center – Federal Court Ruling Full Text   https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2020/05/20/early-release-arizona-prisons-matter-public-health-not-politics/5218072002/  (125 page downloadable pdf.)

TVO Original “The Arrest” takes a searing look at the impact of wrongful arrests

On May 26 at 9 pm ET, TVO presents the world broadcast and online premiere of TVO Original The Arrest on TVO and tvo.org.  https://finance.yahoo.com/news/tvo-original-arrest-takes-searing-123136491.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw