Pardons, again…

Aug 13, 2019

National Newswatch – Giuseppe Valiante, Canadian Press
Liberals’ cannabis possession pardon legislation now in force: justice minister

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti has announced that the process for getting a pardon is a “go!”  Or is it?  It is not a pardon – it is a record suspension.  It is available but not if any part of your sentence for simple possession remains.  At least, it appears to be free in all cases.  Asked why not expunge the record, especially for the disproportionate number of Indigenous people impacted, the Justice Minister said that “the government is reserving expungement for people who were convicted in the past of offences that today would be considered a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, such as consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners.”  Correcting disproportionality should be easier for more minor convictions but why reserve pardons at all?

Toronto Star – Mitch Potter
Trudeau vows to protect vulnerable people as Ottawa commits $26M for legal aid after Ontario funding cut

The federal government is committing to replace the provincial funding lost in budget cuts by the Ford government.  The cuts would have had a severe impact on the refugee and immigration processes, a morass without legal guidance. “Though the shared federal-provincial funding formula for legal aid in Ontario has been a point of contention amid rising costs, the issue was brought to a head in April, when the Ford government cut funding to Legal Aid Ontario by $137 million and told the agency to stop using provincial money to fund refugee and immigration cases.”  Perhaps the funding crisis can be the impetus as well for simplification of the processes.  What remains at issue is the impact of the cuts on other services such as family law services from legal aid.

 Toronto Star – Stephanie Levitz
Canada largely successful in managing economic immigration, study says

A new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that Canada does a pretty good job around managing economic immigration.  Economic migration refers to the process by which Canada fills job vacancies with foreign workers and the OECD is suggesting that some tweaking May help.  There are about 80,000 a year and the alignment of the jobs and the foreigners is one area of concern, as is the Quebec decision over its welcome to foreign workers.

Global TV News – Simon Little
1 in 4 Canadians still oppose full same-sex marriage rights: poll

It would seem that same sex marriage is still not completely accepted in Canada: one in four oppose it or think that union is OK but not marriage.  The approval numbers among responders are higher for those of European descent and lower for those of Asian descent.   While there is some hard opposition among some Christian and conservative groups, most Canadians also seem to favour sexual orientation / gender identification (SOGI) education.  Women, Canadians from age 18-34 and those who voted Liberal in the last election are among the groups with higher approval ratings.    Related article: CBC News – Shaina Luck   ‘The final closet’: Researcher seeks solutions for long-term care for LGBTQ seniors

CBC News – Jonathan Gatehouse
Why Ottawa is hedging when it comes to handguns

The recent spate of gun violence in Toronto has brought renewed calls for a handgun ban but the appeal appears to fall on deaf ears.  Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is suggesting that the Liberals will incorporate policy proposals in the coming federal election but the government appears to hide behind a public consultation but recent polls would suggest a majority – including Montreal and Ottawa – favour the ban:  “Polls suggest there is broad support for a prohibition on the ownership of certain types of firearms… Last month, a Forum Research survey of 1,143 Toronto voters found that a majority of respondents — 62 per cent — expressed a belief that a handgun ban would reduce the number of gang shootings in the city.”    Related article: Toronto Star – Heather Mallick   Who else must die before handguns are banned in Canada?  Related article: CBC News – Kathleen Harris   Liberals won’t commit to handgun ban, but set firearms control on election agenda   Related article: CBC News – Elise von Scheel    Toronto mayor says city-wide handgun ban would be enough – John Tory changes tune after more than a year of calling for national ban   Related article: CBC News – Canadian Press   Trudeau, Tory meeting today to discuss Toronto gun violence

   Ottawa Citizen – Brian Platt
Citing Ghomeshi, judge deems Liberal reforms in sex assault trials unconstitutional

The new rules around sexual assault trials require the defendant to reveal too much, says Saskatchewan Judge Bruce Henning.  The new rules following the Ghomeshi trial and Bill C-51 last December give enough away in required disclosure to allow the complainant to adjust testimony accordingly.  “In my opinion, the Crown arguments do not address adequately the effect of disclosure to the complainant that may allow the complainant to prepare for trial ready to explain and minimize inconsistencies, omissions, additions or other modifications in giving their evidence,” Judge Bruce Henning wrote in his decision.”

CBC News
Prisoners’ Justice Day vigil calls for better medical supports at OCDC

Demonstrators voiced two concerns around the national observance:  access to doctors and diluted medications.  Mental health issues are a particular focus at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, a provincial prison where advocates are resisting plans to rebuild vs using the funds to create and sustain community supports and proper health care for inmates.

The Guardian (UK) Long Read – Andy Beckett
Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in

Increasingly we are overwhelming with an impending sense of “too late” with regard to many of our social and environmental problems and we turn to technology resolve the worst.  The implicit belief is that computers and self-driving technology will accelerate in their capacity to confront these problems, offering some a sense that all will be well as the future unfolds.  Pipe dream or realistic hope?  Here is an assessment of the once, and perhaps still, fringe philosophy of acceleration.