Charities and human rights…

Jan 17, 2018

Policy Options – Brian Bird
With the change to Canada Summer Jobs, Trudeau is weaponizing the Charter, forgetting that it is meant to be a shield against the abuse of state power.

The Trudeau government in December announced the intent to require registered charities who use government funds to pay for student employment in the summer to profess adherence to Canada’s human rights code.  Included in the rights are reproductive rights which conflict with anti-abortion stances.  Bird is suggesting that the Charter so used may be in itself a violation because the Charter aims at protecting against government power intrusions.  Whatever side one accepts there will clearly be a problem with the summer employment funding.  “The human rights that applicants must endorse include “reproductive rights” such as “the right to access safe and legal abortions.” As a result, applicants that oppose abortion on moral or religious grounds may be denied funding for their summer initiatives.”   Related article:  National Newswatch – Mia Rabson, Canadian Press    Anti-abortion activities not eligible for revamped youth service program   Related article: CBC News Susan Burgess   Churches angry over abortion clause in federal summer jobs program – Organizations who want funding must confirm their ‘core mandate’ respects reproductive rights

National Newswatch – Joan Bryden
Liberal MPs urge dropping criminal penalties for all illicit drug use

The Liberal convention in Halifax in April has some thirty-nine resolutions for debate, one of which is a recommendation for government to de-criminalize all illicit drug use such as Portugal has done and not just marijuana anticipated for July 2018.  Another resolution seeks to de-criminalize prostitution, a national prescription drug coverage,  and establishing a minimum income.    Related article: NationTalk – ahnationtalk  Who are we talking about when we talk about prostitution and sex work? – CP

  CNC News – Kristy Kirkup
Ottawa long way from restarting or scrapping missing, murdered women inquiry: PM – The executive director of the national inquiry left last week

Canada’s Prime Minister appears determine to salvage the MMIWG inquiry in spite of the latest defection of its second executive director.  Critics, including First Nations groups, have appealed for a re-design if not a complete start-over.  “Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said she is concerned by the amount of turnover at the commission, fearing it could distract from the work at hand. But the independence of the commission is crucial, and the government won’t interfere, she said.”

Toronto Star – Heather Mallick
Consecutive sentencing: do we underpunish or overpunish killers?

Mallick raises a principle in the light of consecutive sentences for multiple murders vs concurrent sentences.  Should a man who murdered three serve 25 years to life for all three or should he be sentence to 25 years to life for each of the three murders.  Mallick presents to arguments both ways.

CBC News – Evan Dyer
Canada to reconsider Extradition Act in wake of Diab case – 10-year ordeal suffered by Ottawa professor reveals system that puts Canadians’ rights last

After extradition from Canada, Hassan Diab, formerly an Ottawa university professor, spent years in solitary confinement in a French prison as a terrorism suspect.  “Few cases have so effectively raised questions about the act, which landed a Canadian in solitary confinement for years without enough evidence (as the French judges ruled) to justify holding a trial.”  Even after the French judges ruled insufficient evidence for trial, Diab was further held in prison.  Now says Diab, his sole purpose is to changed Canadian extradition law to prevent any further incident.

Globe and Mail – Chris Hannay, Mayaz Alam and James Keller
Politics Briefing: B.C. judge rules indefinite solitary confinement unconstitutional

The BC Civil Liberties and the John Howard Society of BC joined in a lawsuit against the federal government use of solitary confinement or administrative segregation.  A BC court has ruled that permanent or indefinite use of solitary is unconstitutional.  “The landmark court ruling, issued in a lawsuit filed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society, orders the federal government to rewrite the law governing solitary confinement, significantly curtailing a policy used in prisons across the country. The judge ruled the law violates the constitution by subjecting all inmates to the possibility of indefinite solitary confinement with little oversight. The judge also said the law discriminates against Indigenous offenders and inmates with mental illness or disabilities.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Colin Perkel   Ontario to stop placing inmates with mental health disabilities in solitary confinement

Pew Charitable Trusts (US)
National Prison Rate Continues to Decline amid Sentencing, Re-Entry Reforms – More than two-thirds of states cut crime and imprisonment from 2008-16

The report on both prison population and criminal justice reform are particularly welcome in the present political climate.  The decline has involved both federal and state prisoners, Black adults, 36 states with more than 20 dropping by 15% or more.  Almost every state has also experience a decline in crime with no apparent correlation to the imprisonment numbers.