SC on Mandatory minimums…

Jan 30, 2023

National Newswatch – The Canadian Press
Mandatory minimum penalty for firing gun at house unconstitutional: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has just ruled one mandatory sentence unconstitutional while supporting two others, all three on the basis of the term of the sentence and whether the term was within adequate and fair range for the offences.  The Court looked to see if the sentence constituted ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’  The Court also provided a two-step process for determining if a mandatory sentence was unconstitutional under ‘cruel and unusual punishment’:  “First, a court must determine a fit and proportionate sentence for the offence in respect of the objectives and principles of sentencing in the Criminal Code… The court must then ask whether the provision in question requires it to impose a sentence that is grossly disproportionate when compared to the fit and proportionate sentence, the Supreme Court said.”  Related article: National Newswatch: David Fraser, The Canadian Press  Ottawa preparing to announce revival of federal body offering cabinet legal advice – Law commission

Toronto Star –  Ghada Alsharif
Confessions of a shoplifter: As food costs soar and self-checkouts multiply, more people are stealing — and they’re not sorry – Shoplifting is on the rise as consumers struggle to afford basics and turn to food banks. Retailers are losing billions — and fear an impending recession will only make the problem worse.

Here’s a stark assessment on crime: “I don’t have any kind of moral quandary with stealing food. If the prices were fair … I’d pay. But I would not be able to survive in my situation without shoplifting.”  The act of shoplifting is a crime – theft under $5,000.  But the issue also raises other concerns in the face of not only the most vulnerable but also for those with jobs who do not make enough to live on.  (A secondary issue lies in whether this property crime, and others, is driving the repeated municipal decision to increase by huge amounts the expanded police budgets at the cost of social services.)  It would seem rather that the opportunity has more to do with self-check-out kiosks.  Retailers say that shoplifting itself forces increases in price but advocates say there is no evidence of profits impacted by shoplifting.

Tweet from John Howard (Canada): On death in custody:  “How did Mr. Veevee die while imprisoned at the Regional Psychiatric Centre?”

Western Standard (Calgary) – Mathew Horwood
Canada’s prison system has been ordered to pay an employee $310,000 in damages for malicious mistreatment.  Management peddled gossip and slander in falsely accusing a British Columbia guard of smuggling drugs, wrote a labour board arbitrator.  Related tweet from John Howard Canada:  On justice costs – personal and tax payer  “Reliance on jailhouse informant without evidence results in damages: slander was compounded when lawyers repeated gossip that X was a heavy drug user — a “brazen act of bringing a false, harmful allegation completely unsupported by any evidence”
(   Related article: CBC News – Clara Pasieka   Doubling of inmate deaths in Ontario prompts call for correctional oversight body – Open letter this week calls for ‘immediate action’ by province’s solicitor general


Tweet from Mohammed Hashim on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day:  “A few years ago, I helped bring some community members together and a really prominent and successful Jewish woman made a comment that struck me very deeply. She roughly said, ‘for me to truly have trust, I would need to believe that you would hide me’. thread 1/10

Montreal Gazette – Samaa Elibyari
Opinion: Muslim and immigrant, a double predicament? During Muslim Awareness Week, now in its fifth edition, we look forward to expanding our work for rapprochement among all people.

Elibyari reminds Canadians that Muslims often have two hurdles to overcome: a long active prejudice against Muslims and at once a resentment towards immigrants.  Related article: Global News – Eric Stober    Canada appoints first-ever special advisor on tackling Islamophobia  Related article:  CBC News – Peter Zimonjic   Trudeau announces Amira Elghawaby as Canada’s first representative to combat Islamophobia – ‘No one in our country should experience hatred because of their faith,’ Trudeau says

Memphis Police Killing

The Murder of Tyre Nicholas by Memphis Police has prompted a flurry of commentary on the issue of the influence of racism in the repeated violence perpetrated by police themselves.  The US legal system is again inviting speculation about the colour of justice: White, Black or Blue.  The speculation has a distinctly insistent demand to understand how five Black officers are now charged.  The following is a selection of those comments:


Boston Review – Albert Toscano
 The Long Shadow of Racial Fascism – A debate is roiling about the aptness of comparing Trump to European fascists. But radical Black thinkers have long argued that racial slavery created its own unique form of American fascism.


The Guardian (UK / US Desk) – Edwin Rios
‘We’re not done’: end of Scorpion unit after Tyre Nichols death is first step, protesters say – Call for release of information on all officers and an end to pre-textual traffic stops, such as pulling people over for loud music

Tweet from Bree Newsome Bass – On police leadership   “Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis fired from previous Atlanta job after botched sex crimes probe”  I’m harping heavy on this rn b/c this is such a perfect example of why “representation matters” politics is so dangerous via @nypost
(  Related article: Atlanta Journal Constitution:  Shaddi Abusaid and Mandi Albright  Tyre Nichols case: Memphis police chief was once fired from Atlanta Police Department – She was reinstated on appeal, then eventually left for another department

Tweet from Ibram X. Kendi   On death from Racism:  ““Mom, Mom, Mom.” A plea for life carved into the deathly history of racism like “I can’t breathe.” #TyreNichols

Tweet from MSNBC / Charles Coleman:  On police behavior in bodycam video of Tyre Nichols’ beating: “If you’re listening to these officers, you hear them say the golden words, ‘he reached for my gun’…they’re already trying to line up their stories…they are coming up with their defense in the moment”

violent policing, Washington Post (US) Editorial Board (Jan 29, 2023)  On violent policing, we say ‘never again’ but we get ‘once again’  Related tweet from Critical Criminology (Canada)  “Unlike what some cop advocates think, police are not a personal bodyguard service.  They are reactive and come afterwards. “The caveat is murders are unpredictable. If they’d be predictable, they’d be preventable.”  More cops doesn’t mean less crime.” article:  CBC News – Bobby Hristova   Hamilton had a historic drop in homicides in 2022. Police, researchers offer differing reasons –  There were 20 killings in 2021 and 5 in 2022 — police say some of the ones in 2021 were linked

Tweet from The Marshall Project On Black Officers alone:  “Tyre Nichols’ Death: How Black Officers Alone Can’t Stop Brutal Policing”  The Marshall Project: Closing Argument – Tyre Nichols’ Death: How Black Officers Alone Can’t Stop Brutal Policing – A dialogue with Wilbert L. Cooper, a reporter from a family of Black officers, on why Black officers are no cure for police violence.
Tweet from Udi Ofer: On number police killed this year:  “Police killed more people in 2022 than any other year in the past decade. 1,186 people were killed by police in 2022. Black people were 3x more likely to be killed by police than white people, and 1.3x more likely to be unarmed.”   (Mapping Police Violence

Tweet from Robyn Maynard ON the number of police shootings in Canada:  “Police shootings rose by almost 25% in Canada in 2022.  *This* rise in violence is not being treated with the same urgency by political leaders, and is not considered an emergency requiring immediate action from all levels of govt #SupportsNotPolice “

NBC News 6 (Florida) – Steve Litz and Brian Hamacher     Hialeah Officer Accused of Kidnapping, Beating Homeless Man Denied Bond – Rafael Otano and Lorenzo Orfila, who have since been fired, face charges of armed kidnapping and battery

Tweet from Prison Health (US) On juvenile imprisonment   “Louisiana’s Former Death Row is Now Holding Kids”  (  Link:  ACLU (US) – Gina Womack   Louisiana’s Former Death Row is Now Holding Kids

Tweet from Matthew Hahn (US) – On dummy cages:  “These are called dummy cages. When I discovered my cellmate’s lifeless body in the cell with me, prison guards put me in one of these cages for a few hours. Not a fun place to have a panic attack.”  Cf full article:

Tweet from Release Aging Persons in Prison (RAPP)  (US)  “Last year, Robert was sitting in prison, having served 34 years (since he was 17). Last week, he was in Albany with us to receive a proclamation for the work he’s done since his release, and to push for the Elder Parole and Fair & Timely Parole bills.”  Cf full article at

Tweet from Eric Reinhart On Community Support Systems:  Build the community support systems that can make police and prisons obsolete. If we simply invested—like every other industrialized nation—in universal healthcare (not to mention housing, etc), that alone would dramatically shrink the role of police.

Tweet from Scott Hechinger on Scorpion units:  “As news spreads the Memphis PD will disband the murderous “Scorpion” Unit, it is important to know that back in 2020 NYC disbanded its own “anti-crime” unit responsible for shootings, brutality, & Eric Garner’s murder. NYC Mayor Eric Adams revived & expanded the unit last year.

Tweet from Lorraine Lam On homelessness and police:  “If violence on public transit is abt mental health, how is adding more cops on it (billed OVERTIME) going to solve that? And then blaming unhoused people on transit: if THAT is true, then why kick ppl out of encampments to nowhere? Shelters are full, no warming centres.”