Torture anyone?

      June 28, 2015

iPolitics – Kristy Smith
More than a third of Canadians condone torture, says poll  

The Pew Research Center is a US based group who asked Canadians about whether it is permissible to torture terrorist suspects and whether the recent revelations about the CIA widespread use of torture was justifiable.  A disturbing 35% of Canadians thought it was OK to torture.  Retiring MP and former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler is concerned that so many approve and says that even on the limited basis of effectiveness the evidence says that info from torture is not reliable.  “As a matter of principle, torture should be prohibited — and as a matter of empirical evidence,” said Cotler.

CTV News – Richard Madan
Latest Conservative ad could violate government’s own anti-terror law

The latest in election hype seems to bring some more discreditable strategies and contradictory stances.  In the wake of outrage over HarperPac, The Harper government has released an anti-Trudeau video that uses ISIS created propaganda video and theme music. Critics think that C-51 has given the judges authority to close down and seize the use of terrorism material and that its use is at least questionable if not illegal in itself.  Trudeau wants to stop bombing and intensify training and humanitarian aid.   Related article: CBC News – Chris Hall    HarperPAC, Engage Canada highlight confusion over 3rd-party ads – Conservatives cry foul, one group calls it quits and there are many questions about 3rd party ads   Related article:  National Newswatch – Kristy Kirkup, Canadian Press    Other third parties should follow HarperPAC’s lead, close up shop, says Kingsley   Related article:  Ottawa Citizen – Kady O’Malley  Alas, poor HarperPAC, we knew it… actually not that well at all    

Toronto Star – Rachel Mendelson
Could the Toronto G20 happen again? – An Ontario judge argues that, when it comes to the laws that guide police conduct, a “repeat performance” of the civil rights abuses we saw during the G20 is “somewhat inevitable.”

Five years after the largest mass arrest in Canada’s history, Justice James Stribopoluos says that the event was governed by the secret G-20 law and needs specific legislation governing police in large scale civic events.   “Unfortunately, without that, the legal framework that helped facilitate the civil liberties abuses that marked the G20 Summit in Toronto will persist…And that, I fear, will make a repeat appearance somewhat inevitable.” Wesley Pue, a law professor at the University of British Columbia and an expert witness before Parliament, suggests that the current the legal framework in this area is “incredibly opaque.”   Related article: Globe and Mail – Adrian Morrow   Notorious G20 ‘five-metre rule’ is finally abolished in Ontario  

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine

Dissenting Justice Scalia’s sarcastic rebuke raises eyebrows

The US has finally established the legitimacy of same sex marriage in all 50 states but not without much passion and dissent and only by a thin margin of 5-4 justices.  This article reviews the decision and the players as well as the conservative doctrine of ‘originalism,’ a belief of literalism in the reading of the US constitution, and a factor in the recent appointment of two Canadian judges.  Thinking of the Charter of Rights as a living tree, the Supreme Court of Canada thinks of the charter differently than Scalia:  “The ‘frozen concepts’ reasoning runs contrary to one of the most fundamental principles of Canadian constitutional interpretation: that our Constitution is a living tree which, by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life.”

CBC News –

Camera phone ‘pervasiveness’ reduces police violence, study finds – Ottawa police officer interviewed more than 200 officers for Carleton research project 

A 28 year veteran police office and a candidate for a Ph.D. at Carleton, Greg Brown made a decision one night while making an arrest of a violent man not to punch the man for fear that some of the on-lookers may have video running that may show him in a bad light.  Then he began to wonder if other police officers were acting similarly and whether the end result was lower incidents of police using physical force across the board.  Brown’s paper is called The Blue Line on Thin Ice: Police Use of Force Modifications in the Era of Cameraphones and YouTube, and was published recently in the British Journal of Criminology.

CTV News – Michael Shulman
Gap between Canada’s middle class, wealthy ‘starting to run away’: report

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s economist David MacDonald has written a new report entitled The Wealth Advantage: The Growing Wealth Gap between Canada’s Affluent and the Middle Class.  MacDonald says that the report, based on Stats Canada’s Survey of Financial Security 2009-2012, has two glaring conclusions: the top ten percent have seen a doubling of wealth while the gap between the wealthy and the middle class has grown steadily, particular when the analysis is age related with a focus around 30 year olds.  The middle class has actually seen a loss in asset values from $68,000 to $63,000.  MacDonald thinks that even the educational levels of today’s mid-twenties is unlikely to over-come the head-start advantage of the wealthy.   Full Report:  The Wealth Advantage (A 39 page downloadable pdf)

CBC News – Bean Beeby
Key emails in Prime Minister’s Office at risk of deletion, report finds – 16-month probe of lost-and-found emails in Mike Duffy case raises concerns about improper deletion 

Special legal adviser to the PMO in 2013 Benjamin Perrin had in 2012-2013 some lost and then found e-mails crucial to the RCMP investigation of Mike Duffy.  The events prompted an investigation by Privacy Commissioner Susanne Legault to examine the policy around deleting e-mails.  She is recommending regular audits with the results made public.  No one knows if in fact the audits have been carried out and to what results.   Related article: Toronto Star – Editorial (June 28, 2015)  Egregious delays on access-to-information requests must stop