End of mandatory…

Nov. 1, 2016

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Ottawa plans to reduce use of mandatory prison sentences

The plan announced by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould involves ending the mandatory sentencing and restoring the discretionary power of judges. The intent, says Wilson-Raybould, is to enable the judges  “to base their decisions on the actual circumstances of the case before them and render judgment.”  The move will require legislation and is expected early in the New Year.  “The Conservatives imposed 60 mandatory minimum sentences, in areas including drug and gun offences and sex crimes, during their decade in power.”   http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ottawa-plans-to-reduce-use-of-mandatory-prison-sentences/article32609570/

CBC News
Indigenous prisoners, segregation top priorities for new Ottawa senator Kim Pate – ‘My feet will be held to the fire,’ says long-time prisoners’ advocate 

Kim Pate, long time executive director of the Canadian Association Elizabeth Fry Societies, has also long been a fierce fighter for the women and indigenous people caught up in the prison system so no one who knows her well will have any doubts that holding her feet to the fire will be a job with little to do.  Justice advocates everywhere were both surprised and delighted with the news.  She says that she will bring a special focus on the use of segregation, the treatment of the mentally ill and both the women and indigenous inmates.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/kim-pate-named-senator-ottawa-1.3829609   Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Colin Perkel, Canadian Press    ‘I think, sadly, of the women who have died’ – Ottawa advocate for incarcerated women named to the Senate    http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/i-think-sadly-of-the-women-who-have-died-ottawa-advocate-for-incarcerated-women-named-to-the-senate  Related article: National Newswatch – Terry Pedwell     Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appoints six new senators for Ontario   http://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2016/10/31/prime-minister-justin-trudeau-appoints-six-new-senators-for-ontario/#.WBdH0S3yuUk

 CBC News
Liberals will support motion demanding action on First Nations child welfare – NDP calls for $155M in immediate investments to comply with Human Rights Tribunal ruling

The Government of Canada has been ordered twice by the Human Rights Tribunal to correct the inequities in the support for social programs destined for Indigenous children but has not done so. The NDP is now calling for an immediate infusion of $155 million to address the issues.  The Liberals are offering support for the Legislation.   Sponsor NDP MP Charlie Angus is also asking for a correction to the formulas to end the discrimination permanently.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ndp-motion-first-nations-child-welfare-1.3829161   Related article:  National Post – David Akin  Liberals rapped as $900M unspent by Indigenous Affairs among ‘lapsed’ funding for fiscal 2016    http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/liberals-left-900-million-unspent-last-year-at-indigenous-affairs

  Toronto Star – Jesse McLean and David Bruser
Shock-jock juror’s conduct prompts new trial

The court laid aside the conviction of a gay man for sexual assault because the jury foreman, a talk show personality, had made repeated jokes about homosexuals and in functioning as the fore person conveyed a bias to the other jurors.  “Such comments have no place in a fair and impartial justice system,” Justice Mary Lou Benotto wrote. “The reasonable observer would expect that a person who comes before the courts would be treated with dignity and respect, and not be publicly ridiculed by the person judging him.”  https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/11/01/shock-jock-jurors-conduct-prompts-new-trial.html  Related article: Toronto Star – Editorial (Oct 31, 2016)   Police spying on journalist threatens freedom of the press   https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2016/10/31/police-spying-on-journalist-threatens-freedom-of-the-press-editorial.html

Toronto Star – Betsey Powell
Canadian police forces’ switch to darker cruisers ‘a disturbing trend,’ critics say

What’s in a colour?  In the case of police cars, there seems to be a long list of opinions about which colours are appropriate, visible and safer.  Some critics say that recent choices by Toronto police make the units more military and aggressive looking.  There seems to be a widespread movement in Canada to re-vamp the look.  https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2016/10/30/canadian-police-forces-switch-to-darker-cruisers-a-disturbing-trend-critics-say.html

CBC News – Kathleen Harris
Immigration Minister John McCallum to reveal ‘substantially’ higher newcomer targets – Experts warn that welcoming more immigrants, refugees must come with enhanced support services 

While advocates are welcoming the news that Immigration Minister John McCallum plans to raise Canada’s immigration targets to 300,000, they are also somewhat concerned that the new target will demand far more support for the landed families to acclimatize to Canada.  Debates between the wisdom of government and private sponsorship generally concede to better services and bonding in local communities when the sponsorship is private.  The government hand is likely intended to help controls on the need to confront an aging population and labour market needs.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-immigration-levels-2016-1.3825548