More taxes, more cops, no difference…

Jan 19, 2023

CBC News – Metro Morning – Jason d’Souza
Mayor John Tory defends new spending on police, 10-cent TTC fare hike on Metro Morning – Tory says many residents, business owners have pushed for bigger police presence in city

What Tory is saying is happening not only in Toronto but all across Canada and nowhere has the connection between needless expanding of the number of police for alleged public safety issues and rising taxes been so evident.  “It’s not that police alone are going to be the answer to the safety challenges we’ve been facing in the city” but more officers and additional money for “kids and families,” as well as bail reform, are all part of the equation, Tory said… Some critics of the move, like former Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee, have said there is little evidence that bigger police budgets mean more safety… You can look at police budgets, police expenditures from around the world. There are much bigger forces in other places … but there is no evidence they have contributed to greater safety,” Mukherjee told CBC Toronto last week.”  Another question looming over the expanded police budget is whether Tory will now have to exercise the equally expanded powers of the mayor over financial decisions, a power recently given by the Ford government.  Related article: Toronto Star – Alejandro Bravo   Toronto’s budget fails to address our most urgent crisis – The situation is so dire that doctors are providing subway tokens and gift cards to all-night restaurants so people have somewhere to go that’s warm.   Related article: The City (US/New York City) – Greg B. Smith   NYPD’s Track Record on Overtime Spending Casts Doubt on Budget Claims – The police department was previously budgeted for $454 million in overtime pay for the current fiscal year — but is already on pace to spend over $820 million.   Related tweet from Scott Hechinger  On Alternate use of police overtime:  “NEWS: My god. $820 million. NYC taxpayers will pay *$820 million* in just overtime for NYPD this year. Could instead house all 14,000 homeless families in NYC. Then years of rent for 7,000 families out of work & at risk of eviction. With millions left over.”   Related tweet from Jessica Hutchinson (Kitchener-Waterloo)  On expanding police funding  Tomorrow night at the first Public Input Session I will be asking @RegionWaterloo councillors to meet the calls to action from @OfAcb.  The evidence is clear – more police does not make us safer. I will be sharing my research that demonstrates this.  RefundTheCommunity (

Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung
Why some groups are quitting Canada’s popular refugee sponsorship program –
Canada’s Syrian resettlement project spurred public support for refugees, but new federal rules for the private sponsorship program are causing concern.

Front and center but by no means alone – with at least ten other sponsorship agreement holders (SAH) of the 138 – the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia is withdrawing from the SAH.  Immigration has changed the rules under which the SAH operate and the paperwork is too much for many of the charities who rely heavily on volunteers.  This year the SAH are expected to settle 27,750 refugees.  “As a result, the immigration department has recently implemented new rules to govern the work of these religious, ethnic, community or humanitarian organizations — as well as sponsorship groups that raise money and volunteer to help newcomers settle in Canada by taking them to appointments and securing housing and jobs… While the changes are welcomed to ensure refugees’ needs are met, some sponsorship agreement holders, particularly the ones relying heavily on volunteers, say the cumbersome paperwork and mandatory audits are stretching their limited resources.”  Related article:  Government of Canada Immigration  Notice – Supplementary Information for the 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan November 1, 2022 – Ottawa – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is pleased to release details on the Government of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan for 2023-2025. Canada aims to welcome 465,000 new permanent residents in 2023, 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025.

The Conversation (Queen’s) – Carolyn Greene, Associate Professor, Criminology, Athabasca University; Katharina Maier, Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice, University of Winnipeg; Marta-Marika Urbanik, Assistant Professor, University of Alberta
Supervised consumption sites reduce drug overdoses and disease transmission — and deserve government support

The authors report that since 2016 over 32,000 have died from overdoses.  There are 39 supervisor consumption sites across Canada and these sites have proven reliable in reducing the deaths but still facing opposition on ideological grounds.  The safe consumption sites are part of making the overdose problem a public health issue rather than a criminal legal issue.  Besides the issue of establishing these sites there are also obstacles to access to the already established sites.  Related article: Pew Foundation (Jan 14, 2023) Carol Kaufmann   When People Face a Mental Health Crisis, What’s the Best Response?  New efforts in Texas diffuse potentially volatile situations and provide care to those in need Related article: Public Broadcast System and Associated Press (US) – Amanda Seitz  988 mental health line receives over 2 million calls and texts in 6 months

 Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Prison system failing people on remand

The Justice Committee of the UK Parliament has filed a new report noting that the system fails people on remand – jailed without conviction.  The number of remand continues to grow, the legislative, the courts and the prisons are failing, resettlement is problematic and the report is calling for greater use of already available alternatives.  At present, the number of defendants being held in custodial remand while awaiting trial is at the highest level it has been for 50 years. They are also being held for longer periods of time, often beyond the statutory six-month limit. Recent figures show that 770 prisoners have been held on custodial remand for over two years, awaiting trial.”  Full report: The role of adult custodial remand in the criminal justice system – This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.  Seventh Report of Session 2022–23 (A downloadable pdf from the Parliamentary Justice Committee that requires government response in two months.)  Related article: The 19th Newsletter – Candice Norwood    More women are being detained as jail populations near pre-COVID levels – A look at incarceration trends shows that as jails fill back up, women are being booked at a faster rate.

The Marshall Project – Eli Hager and Alysia Santo
Inside the Deadly World of Private Prisoner Transport – Tens of thousands of people every year are packed into vans run by for-profit companies with almost no oversight.

Private prisons, private telephone services, work without pay, the bail enterprises, the fees for supervision services.  Is there any other way for private enterprise to make money off the criminal legal system?  The answer, say Hager and Santo, is a resounding yes in the transportation of prisoners from one jurisdiction to another, often without any supervision and frequently without access to humane services en route using packed 15 passenger vans.  The rationale is saving money but the price includes poor or non-existent training, lack of accountability in a grey area of constantly crossing state lines, frequent reported sexual assaults against women.  “Every year, tens of thousands of fugitives and suspects — many of whom have not been convicted of a crime — are entrusted to a handful of small private companies that specialize in state and local extraditions… A Marshall Project review of thousands of court documents, federal records and local news articles and interviews with more than 50 current or former guards and executives reveals a pattern of prisoner abuse and neglect in an industry that operates with almost no oversight.”

 Tweet from Gail Helt (former CIA US)  On Martin Luther King   “For many of the years I was at CIA, I included this MLK quote as part of my email header:  “Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience ask the question, is it right?  And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

Tweet from APTN News On Nerissa and Odelia Quewezance   “Nerissa and Odelia Quewezance from Keeseekoose First Nation have applied to be free on court-ordered conditions while a federal ministerial review looks into their 1994 second-degree murder convictions.  Cf Saskatchewan government expected to oppose bail for Quewezance sisters by Kathleen Martens –  Related article from Nicole Porter (Canada, Update from Odelia & Nerissa’s bail hearing

Jim Rankin – Toronto Star review of Racism in Policing   (Jan 14, 2023)

An explosive Star investigation exposed anti-Black discrimination in Toronto police. It changed the city – Twenty years after the Toronto Star’s landmark investigation into race, policing and crime, we revisit the series and ask what’s really changed.   ( A 15 min read)  Related tweet from Akwasi Owusu-Bempah  “An explosive @torontostar investigation exposed anti-Black discrimination in Toronto police. It changed the city. Kudos to @Jleerankin for this ground breaking work and all that has followed.”

 Amnesty International (Canada) Podcast – Daniella Barreto – RIGHTS BACK AT YOU

“The struggle for human rights shapes news around the globe. Join Amnesty International, one of Canada’s largest human rights organizations, and untangle the chaos of your newsfeed. Want to hear compelling stories from people who fight back? Learn more about the systems that define our world? Or hang out with people who believe a better world is possible for everyone? Rights Back at You features stories from frontline activists that cut right to the heart of human rights—being human.”