Bill C-22…

Feb.19, 2021

Government of Canada
Bill C-22 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

C-22 is current in Frist Reading and is expected to make significant inroads into both criminal law and drug law practice.  Related article: Government of Canada – Department of Justice   Bill C-22: Mandatory Minimum Penalties to be repealed

Vice – Justin Ling
Canada Introduces New Bill to Reduce Small-Time Drug Prosecutions

The new bill ends some mandatory minimums and gives police discretionary power to charge or not in the case of individuals found with ‘recreational drugs.’ Both police and prosecutors though will be able to ignore the law counselling treatment or rehab in favour of the usual court pursuit under the drug charge.  Critics are suggesting that the mandatory removal should apply to all mandatory sentences, not just some, and that leaving in place the possibility of business as usual will weaken the chance for progressive and persistent application of the alternatives. The Bill C-22 also addresses issues around conditional sentences.  The Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional many of the individual mandatory sentences and research has shown mandatory sentences impact more on Black and Indigenous than white prisoners.  Related article:  CBC News – Aaron Wherry   Why the Liberals took the long road to sentencing reform  Experts say mandatory minimum sentences don’t work — but experts don’t decide elections   Related article: Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant  Ottawa tables bill to tackle overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous people in the justice system  Related article: CBC News – Catharine Tunney, Christian Noel   Liberals introduce new bill to relax penalties for drug offences –  Legislation also includes measures to reduce incarceration of Indigenous, Black Canadians    Related article: Globe and Mail – Sean Fine, Andrea Woo, Kristy Kirkup  Ottawa to relax penalties for drug offences, encouraged to treat possession as a health issue   An initial twitter feed from Harsha Walia:  On Bill C-22    Related article: Canadian Lawyer – Nathan Baker   Bill C-22 important step forward, allows judges to judge   Related article: Canadian Law Times News – Aiden Macnab  Bill C-22 a positive move, but more study and action needed to tackle systemic racism, say experts

Criminalization and Punishment Education Project / CPEP Online – Justin Piché 
More Than 6,000 COVID-19 Cases Linked to Canadian Carceral Institutions

Reporting as of Feb. 7, and updated Feb. 18, the CPEP document lists the infections of Covid-19 in Canada’s prisons province by province and provides a commentary of methods.  4069 prisoners, 1334 staff, 6 contractors have been infected so far.  Federal institutions have the largest number of prisoners and staff infected, followed by Alberta and Ontario.  These jurisdictions are without infections:  Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon.   Related article: Toronto Star – Alyshah Hasham  Ontario confirms Indigenous jail inmates are a priority for Phase 1 of vaccine rollout

Toronto Star – Steve McKinley
An hour after he got to jail, he left as a bloody mess. Court ruling details explosive 15-man jailhouse attack, rejects bid to stay charges

This jail attack is as scary and intentional as it gets, much of the motivation still unclear.  Steven Anderson was attacked by other prisoners minutes after arriving at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility back in December 2019. The charges against those accused include the attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.  A phalanx of prisoners prevented correctional officers from getting into the cell while the beating took place. “Anderson survived the attack with superficial stab wounds, cuts to his face, a collapsed lung and a broken rib.”  This particular link is about whether the three later arrested for the assault had their rights violated in a strip search looking for the weapons.   Related article: CBC News (SK) – Corrections minister says review coming in release of Kimberly Squirrel, found frozen in Saskatoon – 34-year-old mom was found dead in Saskatoon, 3 days after being released from Pine Grove Correctional Centre

 HuffPost (Canada) – Joan Bryden, Canadian Press
Senators Pass Expanded Medically Assisted Dying Bill With Amendments – MPs are calling for a thorough debate on the proposed changes.

Bill C-7 has been amended by the Canadian Senate to allow more flexible access to the medical right to die for people with serious illness but an unforeseeable death.  The circumstances include those with deteriorating mental conditions.  “Until that exclusion on mental illness is lifted, senators also approved another amendment to clarify that it would not apply to people suffering from neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease…They further amended the bill to require the government to collect race-based data on who requests and receives assisted dying and to establish a joint parliamentary committee within 30 days of the bill receiving royal assent to review the assisted dying regime in Canada.”  The Bill will need ascent by one party other than the Liberals to become law.  All three opposition parties have reasons not to support its passage.

CBC News – Sanjay Maru
Windsor police working to establish ‘fourth option’ for 911 calls during mental health crises

How about having another option on the 911 response unit for diversion to mental health as opposed to “Fire, Ambulance or Police?”  Would public direct access to mental health services on an emergency basis be a helpful option in confronting crisis for mental health patients?  Windsor Police Services will present such a proposal to its police services board shortly.