Senators in jails…

June 12, 2017

CBC News – Kathleen Harris
Senators hope ‘landmark’ study will help transform Canada’s prison system – Committee investigates human rights issues with Indigenous, elderly and mentally ill inmates

A senate human rights committee led by Senators Jim Munson and Kim Pate have begun a tour to visit Canadian prisons across the country and to visit what are proposed as better options in Scotland Norway as well.  Expecting to table a preliminary report later this fall, the committee is prompted by the disproportionate representation of Indigenous people in the prisons (3% of the national population vs 26% of the inmates) and by the repeated incidents of suicide and solitary confinement among mentally ill inmates.  Pate also wants improved the community resources available for inmates on release.

National Post – John Ivison
Concerns that Liberal anti-terror bill looks to protect rights at expense of security

Bill C-22 is a bill meant to provide oversight of Canada’s security services.  The Bill, says Ralph Goodale, creates a Parliamentary Committee to oversee but is only one of several measures to confront problematic parts of the former Bill C-51.  The anticipated legislation is expected before the house recesses for the summer.

CBC News –
An unconscious person can’t consent to sex, Liberals confirm in Criminal Code cleanup

Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould yesterday tabled a bill to update Canada’s Criminal Code, settling the question of whether an unconscious person can consent to sex.  The last change in the sexual assault laws was the rape shield provision that prohibits cross-examination introducing the previous sexual history of the victim of an assault.  Related article: Ottawa Citizen – Brian Platt   Witches and duellers rejoice (probably) as the government scraps outdated laws

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Prosecutors trying to prevent an accused murderer from walking free

The debate following the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in R vs Jordan about unjustified delays leading to dismissal is lighting up and what many see as a test case of the strength of the decision.  Ontario is appealing the ruling in the murder trial of Adam Picard.  “Justice Julianne Parfett ruled that “the thread that runs through the present case is the culture of complacency that the Supreme Court condemned.”   Yet the focus seems to remain whether the SCC was speaking about serious charges as well and not about fixing the unreasonable delays the court condemned.

Globe and Mail – Lorelle Binnion and Kyle Couch
Is the WCB disclosing a cannabis prescription a rights breach?

Medical marijuana is raising questions in the workplace.  If the Worker’s Compensation Board reveals that an employee on medical leave has been prescribed marijuana, have privacy rights been breached?  What recourse is there for employee and employer as well as the Compensation Board when the employer decides not to accommodate.  Binnion and Couch each offer an answer.

Ottawa Citizen – Andrew Duffy
Human-trafficking cases in Ottawa have revealed shocking details

The article reviews the realities and the difficulties in successfully prosecuting cases of human trafficking.  There is about a 30% rate in successful prosecution, even though the reported incidents have increased in recent years.   Federal government report from 2014 – Maisie Karam – Trafficking in persons in Canada, 2014

Tyee (BC) Stefanie Seccia
Four Principles that Can End Chronic Homelessness – Evidence from the US shows that everyone can be housed with a smart, effective approach

Bergen Country (N.J.) has solved its homelessness problem.  The program, called Built for Zero, has four principles:  “permanent supportive housing; rapid rehousing; a Housing First approach; and not criminalizing people experiencing homelessness.”  Says Beth Sandor, the executive director:  “What gets me up in the morning is the idea that what most people think are impossible problems are absolutely within our reach to address and solve.”