Senate teeth?

April 17, 2016 

National Newswatch – Joan Bryden, Canadian Press
Senators who fear assisted dying law violates charter willing to amend, kill it

After so long talking about the weakness of the Senate, here’s a twist.  Bryden is reporting that some in the Senate think that the assisted dying law conflicts with the Charter of Rights and are willing to amend and perhaps kill the bill.  Recently Liberals and now independents, James Cowan and Serge Joyal say one option is to defeat the bill in the Senate; a second is to refuse to examine the bill unless there is a prior reference from the Supreme Court whose Carter decision, they say, laid out what applies in the interim before the June 6 deadline.  Related article: Globe and Mail – Laura Stone   Assisted-dying bill lacks clear criteria for qualifying conditions, critics say

CBC News – Amanda Pfeffer
71 inmates moved from Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre to alleviate crowding – Lawyers, advocates concerned move could make bad situation worse

In a bid to confront steadily deteriorating conditions in the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre the provincial Correctional Ministry has moved 71 inmates to other provincial jails in Lindsay,  Penetanguishene and Milton.  At a considerable distance from Ottawa, these jails will make conditions for legal services, lawyers and court appearances,  and family visits, more difficult.  Inmate Yousef Hussein who hanged himself last week was identified as one to be transferred.  The transfers usually happen in secret, family members learning only at the next visit.

CBC News – Kathleen Harris
Should Canada join the call for a ban on ‘killer’ robots? – Debate rages over whether autonomous weapons would save lives or threaten humanity

The movies seem to come alive in Geneva at the latest UN disarmament conference.  This week saw the third round of discussions about “lethal autonomous weapons systems,(LAWS)” otherwise known as “killer robots.” The concerns are spurred by advances in artificial intelligence and automated technology – unlike drones which are remotely controlled.

Toronto Star – Jacques Gallant
Should police officers be forced to participate in SIU investigations?

Special Investigation Unit (SIU) is the Ontario agency that investigates civilian injuries caused by police.  “Subject police officers” may decide whether to speak with SIU and whether to disclose their official notes after an incident.  Two former directors of SIU – Howard Morton and Ian Scott – have a difference of opinion on whether a police officer should be compelled to give testimony to the SIU.

Globe and Mail – Patrick White
Police across Canada scrimping on meal plans for detainees to cut costs

If you get locked up in Oxford County in Ontario, be prepared to live off Granola bars and apple juice, says lawyer Jenny Reid.  Colleagues passed the jail diet as an anomaly but her own investigations have demonstrated more focused intentions to cut costs in the jails.  The same fare is served three times a day leading dieticians to declare the plan `woefully inadequate.`


Globe and Mail – Iain Overton
Canada has a gun problem

Overton is Director of Investigations for the London (ON) charity Action on Armed Violence.  The comparisons between the number of homicides with firearms in the US and Canada, he says, would persuade you that Canada has no problem with guns.  But, says Overton, 80% of firearms related deaths in Canada are suicides.  The actual number between 2003 and 2012 is 5,616.  Says Overton: “A gun, more than anything else, has the capacity to turn a moment of despair into a lethal moment.”