The cost of torture…

   Dec 15, 2014

 iPolitics – Kristie Smith
Canada’s torture inquiries cost PCO, CSIS more than $31.6M 

Canada has been on the periphery of the torture scene and it has cost over $31 million, not counting commission or compensation for people wrongly implicated in terrorism.  The numbers come from the Privy Council and are admittedly incomplete.  Foreign Affairs, Justice and Defence did not release numbers saying the numbers “would require an extensive manual search of records.”   Related article: Globe and Mail – Tabatha Southey   –  Memo to the CIA: You guys are monsters, period   Related article: Globe and Mail  – Doug Saunders   From secrecy to transparency

 Toronto Star – Francine Kopun
Organized retail crime taking off in Canada 

Sophisticated organized retail crime is costing businesses $4.67 billion a year, costing consumers about 20% of the purchase price of what they buy.  “Booster skirts,” distractions, specially lined loot bags, specialty clothing, even fake babies, all form part of the scam, often practiced in shops near busy highways.

 Toronto Star – Tony Burman
For Syrian refugees, it’s shame Canada 

he Canadian performance on the question of Syrian refugees in the face of its commitments seems poor at best.  The Syrian situation is a huge refugee crisis in which Canada agreed to take 1300 but in fact took only 200.  Further, it would seem that the government has defined criteria for those minority faith based refugees – Christian as opposed to Muslim.  Critics say that the federal government is engaging in misleading and evasive information about its action and policy.     Related article: Toronto Star Atkinson Series – The Politics of Compassion

 Globe and Mail – Josh Wingrove
Official response to Ashley Smith case sidesteps most prison proposals 

The response to the 104 recommendations from the Ashley Smith homicide inquest was released on Thursday but does not answer specifically any of the recs.  Instead, the response was grouped into themes as previously announced by Minister Blaney.  Nor is there any indication of which recs Corrections Canada has accepted and which it rejected.  Ms Jennifer Oades, recently retired CSC Deputy Commissioner for Women, put the matter bluntly:  “That’s the government of the day, certainly, not wanting to make anything as transparent as they keep saying they would like it to be.”    One rec clearly rejected is the limit on the use of segregation.    Related article: Globe and Mail Editorial (Dec 12, 2014)   Corrections Canada is sentenced to fail, again and again    Related article:  Globe and Mail – Coralee Smith   The prison system failed my daughter. Ashley’s ordeal will be repeated  – Emma Loop, Ottawa Citizen
Documents show fearful prisoners are postponing parole reviews  

Mary Campbell, now retired, was director general of corrections and criminal justice at the Department of Public Safety for 10 years.  She says that there has been a significant increase in the practice of postponement for parole hearings, which means that the inmates are serving longer time and as they approached mandatory release or sentence expiry are less under the influence of the justice system in any post-release.   The parole board is reporting a 45% increase in requests for review postponement.  A denial means that the review must then wait a further two years.  But the postponements also mean higher and needless costs. – Jordan Press, Ottawa Citizen
Q and A: George Baker talks Criminal Code, prostitution and Dick Tracy comics  

Baker was a MP for 29 years and then became a senator for the last 11 years.  Baker has an interesting description of how government  fails to address the constitutionality of the legislation and even passes legislation already rejected by the Supreme Court.  The system is broken, says Baker.  A further problem is the failure to revise the legislation by withdrawing antiquated aspects – such as Dick Tracy comics.  The huge growth in the use of private members bills to by-pass the scrutiny is also problematic.

 Toronto Star – Alex Boutlier
Ottawa’s advertising contracts reach nearly $500 million over past five years 

What keeps the wheels of government turning?  $500 million worth of advertizing, $93.2 million in 2013-2014 alone for advertizing, media buys, and ad placements.  Television and internet ads seem to take the bulk of the spending.  Critics are enraged about that kind of spending which  blurs the line between legitimate government spending and informing, and political messaging.

 National Newswatch – Canadian Press
Some facts about Canada’s overhauled medical marijuana system 

The article attempts to look at the facts – just the facts – around the use of medical marijuana and efforts to change the practices.  The report is based on Health Canada reports and compares the old system with the revisions.    Related article:  National Newswatch: Canadian Press  Key dates in the evolution of Canadian attitudes, laws regarding marijuana