Bad laws, over-litigation…

Dec 14, 2016

National Newswatch – Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press
Justice tracking more than 100 constitutional challenges to mandatory penalties

The federal Justice Department is tracking more than 100 constitutional challenges to items arising from the Conservative tough-on-crime approach and these challenges are part of the current backlog in the courts.  “The reforms have compounded pressures on the criminal justice system and have led to an increase in challenges pursuant to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” a departmental memo notes.  In summary, “the memo notes there were 64 mandatory minimum penalties in the Criminal Code and nine mandatory minimums in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Since 2005, 51 code offences were amended to either increase existing mandatory penalties or introduce a new one.”

CBC News – Murray Brewster
Sexual-misconduct lawsuit against Armed Forces alleges ‘reckless’ conduct – 3 former military members spell out allegations of sexual assault and institutional indifference

This is now the fourth class action lawsuit filed against the Canadian military.  Three former members of the Forces are seeking $1 billion in damages for the alleged indifference and negligence of the Forces in responding to incidents reported.  The three have voiced repeated sexual attacks while on duty and one of the three is a male.

CBC News – John Paul Tasker
Pot task force recommends legal cannabis sales be limited to users over 18 – Federal government has promised to table legislation legalizing cannabis in spring 2017

The link offers a 2 min 45 sec video by chair Anne McLellan on the report given government on the legalization of marijuana coming in spring of 2017.  Access is recommended only to 18 and older – limit of 30 grams possession – with a limited potency or strength in the marijuana until age 25.  The report contains over 80 recommendations which are not binding on government.  Related article: Toronto Star – Tonda MacCharles   Teens as young as 18 could soon be able to legally buy pot   Related article: Globe and Mail – Daniel Leblanc   Federal task force advises wide-ranging legalization of recreational marijuana   Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Jacquie Miller   Treat marijuana sales like tobacco, federal task force recommends   Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Jacquie Miller   Number of Canadians buying legal medical marijuana triples in just one year    Related article: Financial Post –  Canadian marijuana stocks on a high after panel recommends widespread retail sale

 CBC News –
Liberals to make safe injection sites easier to open and fentanyl harder to smuggle into Canada – Responsibility for drug policy will be moved back to Health ministry from Justice department

A subtle but important change from the feds is coming in the way Canadians confront the opioid crisis:  we appear poised to return drug policy to the health authorities and away from justice.  With this move, the federal government wants to make it easier to open safe injection sites across the country.  Vancouver has two safe injection sites and a myriad of regulations and rules – 26 requirements in all – have prevented more across the country.  The new strategy, say the two Federal Ministers Philpott and Goodale, “restores harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada’s drug policy.”  The announcement includes giving CBSA greater authority to intercept posted shipments of both fentanyl and carfentanil, the newest and perhaps the most dangerous opioid to date.    Related article: The Tyee (BC) – Kyle Duggan, iPolitics    Ottawa Clears Way for Supervised Injection Sites – Fentanyl overdose crisis brings action from Liberal government

Toronto Star – Kitchener Record
Bill C-51 damages Canada’s economy. It must be scrapped

An open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau from business and technology leaders is saying that, beyond the human rights implications, Bill C-51 must be scrapped for the international damages it will do to Canada’s technology industries.  The largest impact will be on the on-line services and data security issues.  The letter identifies four aspects of the bill which are particularly alarming for the leaders.  The letter is signed by an extensive list of business and technology leaders.

Tyee (BC) – Paul Willcocks
How Did Such an Unlikely Buyer End Up with an Arsenal of Restricted Weapons? Canada is supposed to have tough gun laws

The unlikely buyer is a man with ties to organized crime who managed to legally get permits for 46 restricted firearms.  In November past, Bryce MacDonald, a Courtney, BC man, was sentenced to three years and four months.  Some of his guns wound up in the hands of criminals and Justice Robin Baird puzzled over how MacDonald was able to get so many restricted weapons.

MOMS of Ottawa
Wednesday December 14, 2016 6-7 pm, outside OCDC (Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre, 2244 Innes Road, Ottawa)

Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS) and the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP) are sponsoring a vigil to protest the suicide death of Justin St. Amour in a segregation cell at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre.  The protest is also concerned with the long term and on-going lack of response for the care of the mentally ill in this facility. “Using jails to warehouse individuals with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses is a violation of basic human decency, and will continue to have tragic consequences like these,” said Dr. Aaron Doyle, spokesperson for CPEP and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University. “We need to do better.”   For more info: