Gladue still…

July 27, 2020

CBC News – Colin Perkel
Law barring conditional sentences for some offences is unconstitutional, court rules

The conflict is between the Gladue prescription that the court must consider the Indigenous circumstances before sentencing and the prescription of mandatory minimums still in force.  Critics think this decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal will like make it to the Supreme Court.  “The impugned amendments deprive the court of an important means to redress systemic discrimination against Aboriginal people when considering an appropriate sanction,” the court said. “The reality is that the act will result in more Indigenous offenders serving their sentences in jail rather than in their communities.”  Full Text (120 pages):  Appeal Court of Ontario Decision: R. v. Sharma, 2020 ONCA 478

Globe and Mail – Colleen Sheppard, Tamara Thermitus and Derek Jones
Understanding how racism becomes systemic

Three lawyers, two Canadian and one American, offer a synopsis of how countries confront the process of racism becoming systemic racism.  First, they offer a definition of systemic racism and the obligations nationally and internationally to confront the issue.  “Race-based discrimination may be understood as systemic when it goes beyond isolated individual wrongdoing to encompass broader patterns of racial inequality. Systemic racism includes: recurrent individual mistreatment; exclusionary or harmful institutional policies and practices; and broader societal and intergenerational injustice… In 2004, and as recently as 2017, UN working groups have determined that Canada has yet to free itself from racism, and that the human rights of Black Canadians remain compromised by structural and systemic racism.”

Global News – Andrew Russell
Defund the police? Canadians split along generational lines, Ipsos poll suggests

The question was defunding the police and allocating the funds to public health and social services vs opposing the thought.  “The poll found 51 per cent of Canadians support the idea of defunding the police and reallocating those funds to other services, like housing or mental health, while 49 per cent of respondents oppose the idea.”  But the division reveals a stark delineation between the young and the old.  “Gen Z and Millennials, people under the age of 38, (are) strongly supportive of defunding the police, with 77 per cent and 63 per cent approval rates respectively.”   Related article: CBC News – Jamie Malbeuf   Edmonton police chief offers recommendations to combat systemic racism in policing in Canada  Related article: CBC News – Matthew Kupfer   Police should be integrated with social services, chief tells MPs – Chief Peter Sloly tells parliamentary committee that police don’t need to be primary responders to every call

 Ottawa Citizen – Kelly Egan
Egan: Ottawa police demand $2,486 from grieving family for fatal accident report – The fee, it turns out, was not for extensive photocopying, paper-binding or expensive photo reproduction — it was to help offset the cost of the police work itself.

Around 6:30PM on March 3, 2019, a 69 year old retiree was walking home in his neighbourhood in Orleans, where there were no sidewalks, and stepped out on the roadway to avoid a puddle of water when he was hit by a passing car.  Police reconstructed the accident scene and found the driver without fault.  At first, the police simply refused to release the accident reconstruction report to the grieving family – a widow and two grown children.  When they finally did, after an appeal to the Freedom of Information Act, the price tag was almost $2500.  Family lawyer Tina Hill is appealing.

Waterloo Regional Crime Prevention

The famous neighbourhood ‘porch chats’ are going virtual by Zoom.  Registration is required since they are limited to 25 participants.

July 29, 7-9 PM: Understanding emotional abuse & precursors to violence in the home

Presented by Women’s Crisis Services Waterloo Region

August 12, 7-9 PM: Recognizing and understanding the signs/impact of trauma and abuse on children

Presented by Women’s Crisis Services WR and Family and Children’s Services WR Trauma and August 19, 7-9 PM: Resolving family conflict

Presented by Community Justice Initiatives

September 24, 7-9 PM: Becoming an active bystander

Presented by Mennonite Central Committee

For more information on these Porch Chats, visit


The Kingston Whig-Standard – Ian MacAlpine
Incident at Millhaven Regional Treatment Centre under scrutiny

The incident is important in that it illustrates that previous recommendations of the Correctional Investigator, Dr. Ivan Zinger, have not found their way into practice.  The incident, an interaction with a guard and a mentally ill prisoner during an interview with a behavioural technologist,  leads to the guard escalating the incident rather than calming the scene.  “In 2018-19, my use of force review team identified a trend of inappropriate and/or unnecessary use of force incidents at Millhaven RTC. In the last fiscal year, the proportion of use of force incidents at Millhaven RTC deemed by my office to be inappropriate and/or unnecessary was much higher (28 per cent), compared to the proportion for all institutions (13 per cent). Remove Millhaven RTC from the estimate, and the overall national proportion drops to 9.3 per cent,” according to Zinger.   Correctional Investigator’s Report: 46th Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator (2018-2019)

Solitary Watch (US) – William Blake
Voices from Solitary: A Sentence Worse Than Death

The article leaves a reader with the chills thinking that we are capable of inflicting this sort of suffering one another.  The practice of long term solitary is still very much a part of the US penal system, used for all manner of prisoner, adult and children.  “What nobody knew or suspected back then, not even I, on that very day I would begin suffering a punishment that I am convinced beyond all doubt is far worse than any death sentence could possibly have been. On July 10, 2012, I finished my 25th consecutive year in solitary confinement, where at the time of this writing I remain.”   Related article: Black with no Chaser – Kayla Anthony    With no indictment or trial, William Hayman arrested at age 14, has been imprisoned with adults for 18 Months.

Pro Publica – Lizzie Presser
Their Family Bought Land One Generation after Slavery.  The Reels Brothers Spent Eight Years in Jail for Refusing to Leave It.

As the issues of reparations come more into the spotlight to explain a large part of the present inequality of wealth, the history displayed – and the injustice – in this article become an important element.  “Between 1910 and 1997, African Americans lost about 90% of their farmland. This problem is a major contributor to America’s racial wealth gap; the median wealth among black families is about a tenth that of white families. Now, as reparations have become a subject of national debate, the issue of black land loss is receiving renewed attention. A group of economists and statisticians recently calculated that, since 1910, black families have been stripped of hundreds of billions of dollars because of lost land. Nathan Rosenberg, a lawyer and a researcher in the group, told me, “If you want to understand wealth and inequality in this country, you have to understand black land loss.”   Related article: The New Yorker – Isaac Chotiner   Bryan Stevenson on the Frustration Behind the George Floyd Protests   (An article from June but one which gives perspective to the evolutionary side of Black oppression)

N.Y. Times – Kyra Gaunt
The Magic of Black Girls’ Play – Game-songs created and passed down by Black girls are full of sophistication, power and cultural meaning.

The article is a fascinating exploration of how social norms are leaned through the play of Black girls and their adaptive lyrics in music.  The link has a number of other articles examining the social values of playfulness – click on the boxed listing.