Spot checks?

     Aug 26, 2015

 Toronto Star – San Grewal
Peel police conducted 159,303 street checks in six years

Known as ‘carding’ in Toronto, and just as controversial, Peel Regional Police records show that one out of 46 residents had been carded in the last six years.  Critics argue that the measure targets minorities and sours community relationships with police.  Some legal experts think that the practice is a violation of charter rights as well and are resisting any notion of accommodation between police and the community, looking for an outright ban on the practice.

Toronto Star – John Semley
‘Life means life’: hollow rhetoric, smart politics – The Tories’ “Life Means Life” policy is ideology pure and simple — hollow, meaningless, and totally effective 

The mantra has returned around the tough-on-crime strategy of the Conservative government – euphonic but pointless according to Semley.  Known as Life without parole (or LWOP), the practice flies in the face of what is known in Canada’s jurisprudence as the ‘faint-hope clause,’ or life with eligibility for parole after 25 years.  The worst of the lot never get the parole so the sentence is mostly seen as pointless and simply destructive of what may remain of the motive for good conduct by inmates under sentence.  European courts have ruled LWOP a violation of human rights and in the US there is a giant problem around youth serving LWOP for crimes when still underage.  Says Semley “It (LWOP) plays to a frightened populace repulsed by the idea, even if it’s unlikely, that a scowling psycho-killer will get out of jail and move in next door.”

Globe and Mail – Steven Chase

Ottawa’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia contingent on secrecy – An arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $15 billion is wrapped in secrecy by the Canadian federal government. 

Canada has a $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia in which the Canadian government is bound to secrecy over the public release of detail.  The deal apparently involves military vehicles, LAV’s, manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada in London and brokered by a federal agency – Canadian Commercial Corporation.  No one is talking about the deal or how it is that Canada is feeding the military appetite of a notorious human rights violator.  Related article:  Embassy – Marie- Danielle Smith    Defence procurement an elephant in the war room

Toronto Star – Ben Spurr
Coalition wants party leaders to debate women’s issues

A group of non-profits called Up for Debate had hoped for an all party debate on women’s issues but when Stephen Harper declined so did Tom Mulcair.  The fear now is that issues of pressing interest to women, who make up 52% of the population, will go without focused attention.  As an alternative, the coalition is strategizing around a series of one-on-one interviews to be put together but again participants are fudging around agreement.   Related article: Toronto Star Editorial (Aug. 25, 2015) Party leaders should debate women’s issues    Related article: CBC News – Susana Mas    Women’s issues at centre of 4 one-on-one interviews with federal party leaders

N.Y. Times – Erica Coode
Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life

Dr. Craig Haney is a social psychologist who interviewed a host of inmates in the infamous Pelican Bay Maximum Security Prison when it first opened its SHU units in 1993.  Twenty years later Dr. Haney returned to find that some of the current solitary confinement inmates were the same he had interviewed previously.  Most study of the impact of solitary comes from short term periods of solitary.  What follows in this article is a pointed look at long term solitary and what many call torture.      Related article:  Huffington Post (US) – Sarah Shourd    Buried Alive: Solitary Confinement in Immigrant Detention

Toronto Star –
Blunt impact projectiles being studied by Toronto’s emergency task force – You’ve never seen rubber bullets like this before 

Toronto police are looking at a new sort of non-lethal weapon.  The bullet expands on impact causing a great deal of pain but no lasting damages.  Called ‘high impact projectiles,’ the bullet is “a 40 mm bullet with a plastic body and a head containing a mix of gel and silicone.”  The interest is prompted by the number of high profile killings by police especially with the mentally ill.

CBC News – Betsy Trumpener
Fracking triggered 2014 earthquake in northeastern B.C. – Quake one of world’s largest ever triggered by hydraulic fracturing 

The quake measured 4.4 magnitude and was the worst ever triggered by fracking, confirmed in spades the dangers of LNG extraction using hydraulic fracturing.  The company involved, Progress Energy, “is owned by Petronas of Malaysia, which also owns Pacific NorthWest LNG, the firm planning to build a giant liquefied natural gas export facility near Prince Rupert, B.C. supplied by gas fracked in northeastern B.C.”  Environmentalist and clean energy advocate Matt Horn of the Pembina Institute “calls the significant earthquake “another warning sign for what could be down the road.”