Common good…

March 25, 2021

Toronto Star – Alex Ballingall
The Supreme Court rules Canada’s carbon price is constitutional. It’s a big win for Justin Trudeau’s climate plan

In a 6-3 decision the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that the carbon tax is constitutional.  The Court acknowledged that climate change is real and that the fight against climate change is beyond the capacity of any one province.  In the decision, written by Chief Justice Russell Wagner, the judges said:   “This irreversible harm would be felt across the country and would be borne disproportionately by vulnerable communities and regions in Canada. The impact on those interests justify the limited constitutional impact on provincial jurisdiction.”  Dissenter justices were: Justice Suzanne Côté (dissenting in part), Justices Malcolm Rowe and Russell Brown.   The court said that potential interference in the province’s economic activity while the province balances the economy and the environment was justified in the face of the potential for harm.  Related article:  Supreme Court of Canada: Full decision:  Related blog: Nancy Chalifour (U of Ottawa, Full Professor of Climate change law; Environmental law & justice; Constitutional law)

Toronto Star – Kristin Rushowy
Mental health workers to join OPP call centres

The plan is to add mental health workers to the various OPP communication centers, though the news does not include how many and how the new hires will be spread among the territory served by the OPP nor how the interaction will take place.  The program is included in Ontario’s latest budget and includes $8.4 million over three years. “This program will offer immediate support for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, ultimately providing the right supports, which may include diversion to appropriate mental health services. Mental health workers will be embedded in Ontario Provincial Police communications centres to provide support to individuals facing a mental health crisis, offering referrals and helping people find and access existing services.”  There is also a further $12.5 million for the mental health services to the OPP constables.

CBC News – Joanna Stassen
MPs set to vote on motion to recognize Emancipation Day across Canada – Advocates say the event would help Canada acknowledge the country’s history of slavery

August 1 has been Emancipation Day in Windsor since the depression era.  The official day was in 1834 but it has had both an international with the US and a local flavour.   “Now, campaigners are hoping to make Emancipation Day a nationwide celebration. MPs are set to vote on a motion calling on the federal government to recognize the day that slavery was officially abolished across the British Empire.”  If accepted in the House on Wednesday, Government still decides whether to have a national day.   Related article: Toronto Star – Amira Elghawaby   Online hate is silencing women and racialized people and it must be stopped

Washington Post (US) – Reis Thebault and Danielle Rindler
Shootings never stopped during the pandemic: 2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades

The news of the Boulder killings have re-surfaced the debate about firearms and killings in the US but in fact say the authors the 2020 year has not seen a decline but has been the highest ever for deaths from gun violence: 19,380 deaths and 39,427 injuries.  The shooting deaths were 3600 above the next worst year (2017), the largest cities with a 30% increase.  Additionally, 24,000 died by suicide using a gun.  “Nearly 300 children were shot and killed in 2020, according to Gun Violence Archive data, a 50 percent increase from the previous year. More than 5,100 kids and teens 17 and younger were killed or injured last year — over 1,000 more than any other year since 2014, when the website began tracking it.”   Related blog:  John Roman  Estimated share of households with guns  “Each new firearm increases a household’s risk of suicide. How stable is this relationship? So stable that researchers use firearm suicide rates by state to estimate how many firearms are owned overall in that state.”

The Guardian (UK) – Jamie Grierson
Calls to domestic abuse helpline in England up by 60% over past year – Exclusive: Covid lockdown contributes to surge in women seeking help, Refuge charity says

The UK has had a similar experience as Canada in seeing a considerable increase in domestic violence consequent to the Covid-19 stay-at-homes.  A UK NGO called Refugee is calling attention to the increase following the realization through its women in prison work which suggests that as many as 72% of women in jail had suffered domestic abuse and that the most common victim age bracket was 30-39. “Across the whole of 2020, 81% described being controlled by their partner, 58% had been subjected to physical abuse, 24% were being stalked or harassed and 40% were subjected to economic abuse.”   Blogger Jessica Hutchinson:  A lesson in the violence of prisons.  (Series of 6 postings to illustrate how violence in prison passes under our noses without notice. “Prisons do not make us safer.”   Related article: CBC News Radio: The Current  Rise in deadly violence against women ‘the horrible tip of the iceberg’ in Canada: expert – New report shows 160 women and girls were killed in 2020, compared to 146 in 2019   Related article: ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)  – How the Stimulus Can Help Decriminalize Poverty – Poverty isn’t a moral failing, and it shouldn’t be a crime.

Future of Workers – Armine Yalnizyan
Care is a powerhouse

Calling care a foundational part of the economy rather than simply a derivative part, Yalnizyan says that care constitutes 12.3% of GDP and 21% of jobs, higher than even the manufacturing sector.  The focus for Yalnizyan is child care and senior care.  “The Caring Economy has the potential to be a powerhouse for recovery, and a major source of good jobs. It could play the role that the manufacturing sector played in creating the middle class from the 1950s to 1970s. The Caring Economy will expand anyway because of population aging… So how will it evolve? By policy design (putting a premium on affordable accessible, quality care) or simple market forces (with the emphasis on prices and quantities)?  Related article: Global News – Nick Westoll  Paid sick leave left out of Ontario government’s 2021 budget    Related article:  N.Y. Times – Natasha Frost   New Zealand Approves Paid Leave After Miscarriage – The measure, believed to be among the first in the world, would apply to couples who lose a pregnancy at any point.

Toronto Star – Alyshaw Hasham
85-year-old Toronto East jail inmate dies of COVID-19

Unlike the federal prisons, the Ontario Ministry of Correction Services does not report regularly on the number of Covid-129 deaths in its prisons.  This one confirmed death may be the first or one of others.  Ontario turns prison death over to the Chief Coroner and wraps the incident in a blanket of silence, a curious position given that the corrections services are foremost charged with the protection of the life of the prisoner.   The reporting on the efforts to vaccinate prisoners is spotty at best and originates from the prison or the regional health service.  Equally, one has to wonder why an 85 year old was in prison to start with??   Related report:   CBC News – Second inmate at Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre dies in 2 days – The second death occurred Wednesday, less than 48 hours after a 26-year-old inmate died in hospital  Related article: London Free Press – Randy Richmond   ‘Devastating’: Ministry confirms second EMDC inmate death in three days – Another Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre inmate has died, the second in three days, The London Free Press has learned.

Blogger Scott Hechinger (US)

“I have been intentionally sterilized. And I have been lied to.” Meet Kelli Dillon. While she was incarcerated in California prison she was the victim of *systemic modern-day eugenics.* Then she discovered she wasn’t alone. Doctor’s response: “It’s cheaper than welfare.”   The blog reports that between1997 – 2012 nearly 1400 women in California were sterilized and that even now only 6 states prohibit sterilization of prisoners.  The case of Kelli Dillon has been reported in a film called “Belly of the Beast.”  Film link:

ACLU – Virginia bans the death penalty
National Public Radio – Brian Gross interviews Reuben Miller
Out Of Prison but Still Trapped: Examining the ‘Afterlife’ Of Incarceration

The link is an interview around a book recently published on re-entry issues by Professor Reuben Miller of the University of Chicago.  The book is well described and offers it own insights into the issues but there is also an audio link to a commentary of the complications:  “Miller estimates that there are 45,000 “laws, policies and administrative sanctions” in the U.S. that target people with criminal records… I want us to think about all these traps that we’ve created, we’ve produced, and I want us to unmake them.”