Democracy, for sure!

     May 10, 2015

Toronto Star – Bob Hepburn
Mel Hurtig’s wake-up call for Canada’s democracy: Hepburn

At 82, Mel Hurtig is still fighting for a national vision of democracy in Canada.  The long-time economic nationalist has just published his eighth book, The Arrogant Autocrat: Stephen Harper’s Takeover of Canada, one that takes direct aim at Harper’s indifferences and opposition to Canadian values and institutions.  “My major purpose in writing the book was to reveal the extent to which Harper has damaged our democracy,” Hurtig said in an interview from his home in Vancouver. Harper “doesn’t understand what democracy is all about or care about it,” he added, saying he is “terrified by the idea that the man could be re-elected.”

CTV News – Michael Shulman
Bus beheading victim’s mother speaks out against killer’s move to group home 

Seven years ago Vincent Li killed his fellow passenger Tim MacLean, cutting off his head, and even ate portions of MacLean’s body.  Found by a court to be not criminally responsible and sentenced to indeterminate custody at a mental hospital.  Now the Review Board supervising his case have decided that Li no longer represents a threat and have decided to release him to a group home.  The mother of MacLean and others are forcefully objecting to the planned release.    Related article: Toronto Star –   Canadian Press    Bus beheader Vince Li allowed unsupervised visits to Winnipeg

Globe and Mail – Jeffrey Simpson
 Americans get tough on ‘tough on crime’ policy

For some time now, the country that spawned the ‘tough-on-crime’ approach and the consequent mass incarceration with its racist policies in the US prison system, has been trying desperately to reverse itself.  US Republicans and Democrats alike have voiced the need for immediate and drastic reform of the prosecution and sentencing practices.  Simpson offers an analysis of how widespread the resistance and wonders if the same resistance will reach Canada before the October election.   For re-integration and costs of imprisonment Simpson says the federal government is a flop.  “It might now be appropriate for Canadians to ask: Why have we adopted an approach even U.S. conservatives acknowledge is not working?”

Globe and Mail – Sarah Lawrynuik
PTSD program for first responders extended to family members

Alberta has introduced a new element in its effort to provide mental health care to the immediate family of first responders who sometimes get some overflow of crisis.  The focus is on spouses and children who per force of circumstances become involved in the problems their parents confront daily.

Central (California) – Connie Chan
Incarcerated Mothers in Chowchilla Receive Early Mother’s Day Gift

Thanks to a program called Get on the Bus, a charity that provides transportation for children to visit with their imprisoned mothers, Chowchilla Prison was able to host almost a full day of visiting between child and parent, a rare treat these days of growing video visitation.  Get on the Bus organizers say they hope the annual reunion evokes feelings of forgiveness, healing, and joy, not only in the mothers, but more importantly, in the children.   Related article: Daily Beast –  Happy Mother’s Day—In Detention. Love, Obama Administration

Star Phoenix (SK) – Vancouver Sun
Author Q&A: Journalist Andrew MacLeod charts B.C.’s growing income inequality

Living in BC, MacLeod sees himself as a long time economic justice writer and sees BC as having the greatest economic disparity in Canada.  He has written a book called A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia.    In a Q & A format interview for the Vancouver Sun, he articulates some reasons and consequences for the status, including the notion that income tax rebates and fewer government services while establishing higher government service fees have redistributed the tax burden.  MacLeod also identifies the current wealth distribution system as one created by government policies, saying it is a myth that the distribution is fair or natural.

Winnipeg Free Press – Editorial (May 8, 2015)
Harper treatment of Gov. watchdog abuse of power 

Howard Sapers, the third federal correctional investigator since the office was established in 1973, has served for almost 11 years.  He has been pointed in his criticisms of the federal prison system and does not shrink from revealing the causes of the problems surfacing in the system.  The federal government has decided, without commentary on why, to replace Sapers within a year.