Equal Justice…

Aug. 26, 2020

Lawyer’s Daily – Kendra Landry
COVID-19 is modernizing courtrooms — but for whom?

Landry points out that the technology lag in the courts is being addressed because of the backlog and associated problems but wonders who is the main beneficiary?  “While technology is often posited as a solution to the justice system’s inefficiency, costliness and outmodedness, it may introduce additional barriers for self-represented litigants and those of limited means…  The barriers and impediments inherent in Canada’s justice gap have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as vulnerabilities and inequalities have escalated and institutional delays have skyrocketed. Accessible justice must be prioritized as we move forward, especially when we consider the increased need for legal services caused by the pandemic.”   https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/20620/covid-19-is-modernizing-courtrooms-but-for-whom-kendra-landry?nl_pk=40ed8ea4-637a-4d76-870f-04f0eeae7de8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=criminal   Referenced report:  Canadian Bar Association – Reaching Equal Justice Report: An Invitation to Envision and Act   https://s3.amazonaws.com/tld-documents.llnassets.com/0020000/20620/equaljusticefinalreport-eng.pdf

The Conversation (Canada) – Krystle Shore, University of Waterloo, and Kathryn Henne, Australian National University
Rather than defunding the police, politicians are increasing funding for body-worn cameras

Inevitably the continuing tragic deaths and shootings of Black persons, whether in Canada or the US, will cause a re-invigorated examination of how effective the use of body cameras for police will be and what added dimension it may deliver for the additional costs required.  Toronto has already decided to spend for the project and other cities are stepping into the same response at a time when the total costs of policing is the highest amount tax payer costs.  Toronto has earmarked $34.1 million just for the cameras and a further $6 million for CCTV surveillance from the province.  Many suspect that the costs are often for ineffective options, more cosmetic than substantive, a seemingly knee jerk reaction on spending priorities.  https://theconversation.com/amp/rather-than-defunding-the-police-politicians-are-increasing-funding-for-body-worn-cameras-144548?__twitter_impression=true&s=09  Related article: The Atlantic – David A. Graham   The Shooting of Jacob Blake Is a Wake-Up Call – The national conversation may have moved on from police violence, but the shootings themselves continue.  https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/08/the-shooting-of-jacob-blake-is-a-wake-up-call/615616/?s=09   Related article: VOX (US) – Youtube: What defunding the police really means… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9w841nrIBg (A 10 minute video looking at alternate spending.)  Related article: Pew Research Center (Aug. 13, 2020)(US)  – Important issues in the 2020 election   https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2020/08/13/important-issues-in-the-2020-election/   (Cf the rating for crime and the breakdown by political adherence.)

CBC News – Canadian Press
Nunavut wants to stop relying on other police forces to investigate RCMP shootings

The Nunavut Territorial Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak has announced the intent of her territorial government to no longer rely on other police agencies to investigate police shootings.  The decision comes on the heels of a finding by the Ottawa Police Services released its findings into the death of Attachie Ashoona, who was shot by RCMP in Kinngait, Nunavut, in February.”  The Ottawa police released the finding that the RCMP did not wrong but did not release the circumstances of the killing. Instead, the territorial government wants to empower a civilian group for that work.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nunavut-police-civilian-oversight-rcmp-1.5699786

CBC News – David Burke
The hidden horror of police domestic violence in Nova Scotia – Warning: this story contains graphic descriptions of violence

There are an alarming number of domestic violence cases in Nova Scotia in which the offender is a police officer.  Further, women’s shelter operators are suggesting that the number reported is likely higher and that the partners of these police officers are even less likely than others to report and pursue the incidents.  There are currently 14 such cases known in Nova Scotia and Burke examined nine of them further; “In four cases, officers were either found not guilty or had their cases dismissed. In the other five, officers were found guilty or pleaded guilty and were given a conditional discharge or an absolute discharge and had to serve probation.”  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/police-domestic-violence-abuse-halifax-regional-police-rcmp-1.5698816

Cornell University (US) –
New Cornell-JQI-RIWI Survey Shows that a Second Wave of U.S. Layoffs and Furloughs is Well Under Way

Cornell and its partners Job Quality Index (JQI) and Real-time Interactive Worldwide Intelligence (RIWI) have published a report for the US that 31% of those called back to work consequent to layoff from the Covid-19 have been furloughed again and a further 26% are being told by employers that they may be laid off again.  The Aug 4 report reveals the potential for further unemployment; the results of the study were higher for those states without high Covid-19 considerations than for those struggling against the virus.  Canadian economist Armine Yalnizyan points to this study and offers a Canadian version of the report.  US Report:  https://riwi.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Cornell-JQI-RIWI-Poll-Report-Second-Wave-of-Layoffs-Well-Under-Way-080420-FINAL-1.pdf   Canadian report on permanent job loss:  “The % of workers displaced by COVID-19 who report having permanently lost their job has steadily increased — 8% in March, 10% in April, 14% in May, 21% in June, and 30% in July. The longer workers are jobless, the harder it is to get back into the workforce.” #cdnecon #cdnpoli    https://twitter.com/mikalskuterud/status/1298246274794377218/photo/1   Related article: Washington Post – Andrew Van Dam  As permanent economic damage piles up, the Covid Crisis is looking more like the Great Recession – How permanent job losses threaten to transform temporary covid closures into a lasting recession   https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/25/permanent-economic-damage-piles-up-covid-crisis-is-looking-more-like-great-recession/?hpid=hp_business-1_joblosses-10am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory-ans

National Newswatch – Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press
 Gun-control reforms passed last year might not be fully in place until 2022: memo

Some of these gun control measures got royal ascent a year ago but may not be proclaimed into law until 2022, a government memo says.  The measures impacted include expanding background checks, requiring licences by buyer and seller, keeping records of sales, and authorization to transport.  Draft regulations would have to be approved and the tools for tracking by the RCMP upgraded.  https://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2020/08/24/gun-control-reforms-passed-last-year-might-not-be-fully-in-place-until-2022-memo-2/#.X0VVOot7k2y

CBC News – Lori Lee Oates
The time is now: We can no longer wait to act on poverty and the minimum wage – N.L.’s minimum wage is several dollars below what has been pegged as a living wage. Why?

Oates is reporting from NF/Labrador on the regional discrepancy in the minimum wage and the consequent stress on family life.  “The minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador is $11.65 an hour. It is set to reach $12.65 plus a national CPI bump in October 2021. The goal was to be more closely aligned with the minimum wage in the other Atlantic provinces … The advocacy group Fight for $15 & Fairness estimates the living wage in this province to be $18.85 an hour. This raises the question of why a living wage is not seen as a basic human right and codified in law.”  The question of a guaranteed annual income is an easy step to the promises by the new NF Liberal Premier Andrew Furey who promised to tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/opinion-oates-minimum-wage-1.5676264