Cleaning up…

Jan 11, 2020

 Mary Campbell – Independent Corrections Expert and Justice Advocate

(Jan 3 edition of Communiqué drew attention to the federal parole board announcement of the fee increase for a record suspension (Government Link:  Mary is suggesting that those who believe this is unacceptable should send an email to government to protest the increase and the lack of government action on previously announced intentions.)

Fee increase for record suspension

Everyone has complained about the unaffordable fee for pardon/record suspension applications under the Criminal Records Act, currently $631. It clearly is out of reach for many people, especially people from marginalized communities.  PBC (Parole Board Canada) has given notice that it will be increasing to $644.88 this April, and by a further amount in 2021.

So where is the public outcry about this increase?  Where are all the offender-assisting NVOs?  Where are concerned citizens?  You have all been silent — Public Safety has had almost no blowback.

Could you please take 5 minutes to email Minister Blair ( and your local MP?  And could you ask the members of your organization, your students, and/or your professional body to do so?  And forward this email to others?  And put it in your organization’s newsletters and/or in your tweets?  And once you’ve emailed Blair and your MP, could you please do it again every week?  Please cc the Minister’s aide, Michael Milech, as well as the PBC Chair.

Mothers Offering Mutual Support (MOMS)

Pardon fees increasing!!!

Pardon fees have been at $631 for years now (2013) and there are other fees on top of that e.g. fingerprints, police check, etc.  A pardon or record suspension as it is now called can cost $1000-$1500.  Trudeau was supposed to return it to the previous cost of $100 but it never happened.  The fees are scheduled to go up April 1, 2020 to $644 so we have time for some action

CBC News – Olivia Stefanovich
Lametti says he won’t split roles of attorney general and justice minister

The SNC Lavalin affair report issued by former AG Anne McClellan at the request of the Liberal government recommended the separation of the offices of the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice.  Current AG David Lametti has decided against this division and instead to work towards establishing greater clarity between the two roles.  “Critics questioned how the attorney general, who is responsible for providing legal advice and representing the government in legal proceedings, could not face a conflict when also taking on a political role as justice minister.”  Related article: CBC News – John Paul Tasker   Trudeau’s Senate representative says ethics code needs revamp after the Don Meredith sex scandal   Related article: Hill Times – Peter Mazereeuw   Senate ethics officer drops review of Boisvenu after Conservative Senator apologizes, severs ties with far-right Facebook groups

CBC News – Catharine Tunney
RCMP’s suicide prevention programs ‘unwittingly deficient,’ says internal report on Mountie’s death

Concerns about the mental health and the incidents of suicide among RCMP constables have prompted a critical assessment of the program recently put in place to respond to the crisis.  A recent internal report acknowledges the issue of member suicide is not known within the force and consequently impairs the efforts by the RCMP itself to confront the problem.  “The non-existence of a national study on the specific trends relating to member and employee related suicides may have left RCMP programs and courses unwittingly deficient in content specific to these trends and issues,” says the 39-page report.

CBC (Hamilton) – Samantha Craggs
Hamilton paramedics in court Monday, face charges in death of Yosif Al-Hasnawi

This case is most unusual.  Two paramedics were called to a shooting outside a Hamilton mosque where a young man had been shot in the stomach.  The paramedics took 38 minutes to get to hospital, a considerable delay, because they thought the .22 caliber Derringer was nothing but a BB shot.  Al-Hasnawi died in hospital and the crown took the unusual step of by-passing preliminary hearing and moving directly to criminal trial by direct indictment. “Mario Posteraro, president of OPSEU Local 256, has said the charges have serious implications for Ontario’s first responders.  “These precedent-setting criminal charges are game-changers for our paramedic profession…We are confident that when the totality of the evidence is provided, they will be vindicated.””

Toronto Star – Reid Rusonik
Legal aid a critical part of our pact with one another

The financial state of legal aid in Ontario has been suffering a head-on assault by the reduction of its funds and the consequent implications for both family and criminal legal aid.  This link looks at why lawyers are willing to work for poor and vulnerable clients and seeks to restore some of the rationale for legal aid. “They know they are all that stands between a society that can at least make some claim it provides its poorest members a chance of justice, fairness and security as individuals and a completely arbitrary and cruel one.”

MacLean’s – Jane Philpott
 Decriminalization is not a radical solution to the opioid crisis. And it would work.

“If you don’t already know someone who has lost a loved one because of an accidental opioid overdose, it’s only a matter of time until you will.  If every life is of value, then it’s time to get beyond our prejudices and political biases and implement the steps that will save lives.”  These ominous words should frame the consideration of what to do about opioid addiction and give us some courage to tackle what will surely be a politically unpopular solution, even if factually the solution is workable and even probably.  In this case, it is espoused by a medical doctor, a former MP, and the former federal Minister of Health from 2015-2019.  The creds alone should make this a worthwhile reconsideration to reduce the rate of 12 dying a day from opioids.  It’s beyond crisis.    Related article: Arizona Capitol Times (US) – Criminal justice reform should set up ex-prisoners to succeed

Criminological Highlights – Anthony Doob and Rosemary Gartner (UofT)

The eight papers that are summarized in this issue address the following questions: 1. How does the criminal justice system punish homeless people even without arresting them?  2. What can be learned from Canada’s successful decarceration of youths?  3. Why are judges more likely to believe in the efficacy of the deterrent impact of harsh sentences than are ordinary citizens?  4. How does the skin tone of Blacks affect the manner in which they are treated by the criminal justice system?  5. Why is it in the public interest to provide for the physical and mental well-being of prisoners?  6. What can former prisoners do to increase their likelihood of getting a job?  7. How does the segregation of residential neighbourhoods affect homicide rates?  8. How does the incarceration of fathers of very young children affect a child’s educational experiences?    (You can have your own subscription if you send an e-mail to Professor Doob:  )

Angus Reid Institute

Half of Canadians say crime is rising in their communities, as confidence in police, courts wanes 

The polling is finding that the crime rates have been increasing since 2014 and that the public perception is also rising.  Also showing an appreciable decline is the public confidence in the policing while the percentage of victims is increasing and the confidence in the Supreme Court of Canada is higher than confidence in local courts.  The link provides helpful graphs as well.