Safe third country…

July 24, 2020

National Newswatch – The Canadian Press
Federal Court declares Canada-U.S. refugee pact unconstitutional

While refugee advocates have long fought the agreement with the US known as the safe third country (set up in 2004) and are delighted with this ruling of its unconstitutionality, the practical implications are still to be drawn out.  Under the practice, a refugee arriving in Canada from the US could be sent back because Canada deems the US a safe country for refugees, as the US deems Canada.  The ruling says “elements of the law underpinning the Safe Third Country Agreement violate constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security.”  Related article: Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung   ‘Canada cannot turn a blind eye’: Federal court says Safe Third Country Agreement with U.S. violates charter   Related article: Global News – Brian Hill   Federal Court rules Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement unconstitutional  Related article: Amnesty International (Canada) – Organizations welcome Federal Court decision confirming that sending refugees back to the US is not safe  

Policy Options – Leah West
Secret Law used by security establishment threatens public trust – A recent Federal Court proceeding revealed how flawed interpretations of law were secretly perpetuated inside the Justice Department and CSIS.

Many Canadians would be surprised to learn that security agencies sometimes operate from secret laws known only to the security agency itself and their legal advisers.  “Justice Patrick Gleeson’s 126-page judgment reveals that CSIS has long engaged in activities that, if undertaken by the average Canadian, would violate provisions of the Criminal Code. Gleeson also found that for the third time since 2013, CSIS and its Department of Justice counsel breached their duty of candour to the court. This duty obliges government counsel to provide full and frank disclosure of all material, especially adverse information, to the court. This duty is heightened in closed and unopposed national security proceedings, like a CSIS warrant application, where CSIS seeks authority to engage in highly intrusive activities. As counsel with the Justice Department group that serves CSIS from 2016 to 2018, I was personally subject to this duty.”   Related article: iPolitics – Charlie Pinkerton   Access-to-information watchdog told Lametti during Norman trial that DND may have broken disclosure law

Policy Options – Mohy-Dean Tabbara
Dismantling vicious cycle of poverty and systemic racism should guide criminal justice reform – Socio-economic conditions and systemic racism in the criminal justice system trap Black and Indigenous people in a vicious cycle. The evidence is clear.

In calling for widening the scope of consideration beyond reforming the police, Tabbara is calling for recognition of what US Law professor Rachel Barkow calls the “interconnectedness of oppressions.”  He calls the factor the “social determinants of justice” and wants reform to include factors for which he offers graphic illustration of the influence of elements that criminalize poverty.  His comments are based on the report linked below.  Rethinking Criminal Justice in Canada:  Round Table Report (Downloadable pdf first published in 2018)   Related article: Globe and Mail – Associated Press   Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signs police accountability bill into law   Related article: – Loretta Graceffo    Community Peacemakers in Chicago Offer a Proven Alternative to Policing   Related article:  Kamloops (BC) This Week – Canadian Press   Canada’s militarized police forces face defunding and ‘de-tasking’, experts say

Washington Post (US) – Marissa J. Lang
A Navy vet asked federal officers in Portland to remember their oaths. Then they broke his hand.

The incident in Portland, Oregon is provoking a constitutional question about the right of the President of the United States to perform policing duties where no federal laws are broken and where the federal authorities, at this point of unknown affiliation, are not invited by state or local civil authorities.  Some suggest that the feds are protecting a federal building but their actions go well beyond building protecting and verge on what critics have called ‘kidnapping citizens from the streets.”   Related article: The – Joshua Manson   Impunity for Law Enforcement Must End. That Includes Officers in Jails and Prisons – Qualified immunity is just one obstacle of many that incarcerated people face when seeking to hold correctional officers accountable for misconduct.  Related article: The Sacramento Bee – Matt Kristoffersen  California prison watchdog recommends discipline for supervisors over use-of-force reports   

Ed note: the criteria for legitimate force was established by the US courts in 1989 in a case called Graham vs Connor, establishing the criteria for deadly force from the police perspective.  The criteria is at the root of the present discussions around Defunding Police, or as Rachel Barkow would suggest, defunding bullets.  Basically, if a police officer acts like a reasonable man and fears for his life, then deadly force is legal.  From the perspective of the victim, the use of deadly force should follow due process and rights, not the reasonable and fearful man.  Cf   Radiolab produced a radio play around the case (with transcript) at:

CBC News – Emma Davie
3-person independent panel to review Nova Scotia mass killing – Final report, recommendations will be made public, but panel to decide whether to hold public hearings

The panel will have one year to report and what it collects will be secret with hearings in private unless the panel decides otherwise.  Former chief justice of Nova Scotia Michael MacDonald will chair the panel.  Former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, who is currently a senior advisor with the law firm Bennett Jones LLP, and Leanne Fitch, a former chief of the Fredericton Police Force are the other two panelists.  The panel will not have authority for sworn testimony, subpoena power or mandatory recommendations.  Neither will the panel have the right to challenged persons or institutions claiming privilege.   Related article: MacLean’s – Paul Wells   The Nova Scotia shooting ‘review’ and the deafness of government – Everyone was demanding a public inquiry. What we got was something zero people asked for—a toothless, rickety review panel.

 TED Talk: John Lewis and Bryan Stevenson (Nov 2019)

The fight for civil rights and freedom…

Bryan Stevenson, of Just Mercy fame, and Lewis discuss “the essential importance of voting, share encouraging words of wisdom for the generation of young people currently organizing in the struggle for racial justice and tell moving stories from his decades of making “good trouble” — at the Freedom Rides, March on Washington and in the halls of Congress. “When you see something that’s not right or fair or just, you have to say something,” Lewis says. “You have to do something.”

CSPAN (US) – Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke from the House floor on the incident with Republican Rep. Ted Yoho

Ocasio-Cortez offers a powerful analysis of the Yoho incident on the steps of the Capitol that is worthy of reflection and helpful to understand the wider disrespect behind the incident.  Ocasio-Cortez draws attention to the full implications of Yoho’s alleged apology for wives and daughters, his own and all others.  The almost 10 minute speech under personal privilege in the House of Representatives is a timely and well-articulated rebuttal of the effort to excuse such hateful behaviour.  “Having a daughter does not make a man decent.  Having a wife does not make a decent man.  Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”  And when a man makes a mistake, he apologizes, says Ocasio-Cortez.

Australian Petition – Raise the Age

There is a fight brewing in Australia over the age at which children may be arrested and imprisoned.  Currently it is 10 years of age but equally frightful the practices appears to impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – 65% of those imprisoned.  “The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on countries to raise the age to at least 14 years old. China, Russia, Germany, Spain, Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Rwanda have taken this step and we must do the same for Australian kids. I call on you to immediately and urgently raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old.”