Love in public places…

June 18, 2021

Ottawa Citizen – Brigitte Pellerin
More than ever, Canadians must reach for love and kindness – After Kamloops and London, our hearts are broken in so many places and I worry decisions we make in that state are not motivated by a desire to heal but to make other hearts hurt as much as ours.

As people genuinely search for adequate answer to tragedies like the London family killing, this link comes as a refreshing alternate.  Pellerin insists that our repeated and long standing failure to come to grips with hurting one another lies buried in this most recent incident as well as in our long history of racism and our quick resort to punishment.  “We say we want justice, to see the guilty punished. The Quebec City mosque murderer’s sentence is currently being appealed. What does this court battle do to help people deal with their trauma? Does prison make a society feel less hostile? Is the justice system a safe space? Is our thirst for retribution fuelling the dark beasts of hatred and perpetual trauma? Denying the humanity of someone who kills Muslims by calling him a monster only leads to more of the same. Yet who but a monster would deliberately murder other humans?  … I wish I knew how to help people feel safe so they could begin to walk back from the darkness they were forced into, back towards their true, open-hearted selves.”  Toronto Star: Dr. Suzanne Shoush and members of the Indigenous Caucus of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Community Advisory Panel for Unity Health Toronto   An Open Letter…   Related article: BC Tyee – Keith Thor Carlson   A Brief and Brutal History of Canadian Colonialism – Despite the painful history, there’s always been Indigenous resistance. Is settler society finally waking up?

 Ottawa Citizen – Michael Spratt and Cassandra Richards
Ottawa police and prosecutors were given a new power to unclog the court system. They’ve barely used it

Is there some elusive advantage to not unclogging the court system?  Spratt and Richards are not aware why, when given a chance precisely to expedite the court procedures, the police and prosecutors do not jump at it.  So far, in Ottawa, the new law has been used four times in two years.  Legal lethargy?  Discretionary paralysis?  “In 2018, as part of a bill that promised to modernize and transform the Canadian justice system, the Trudeau government introduced judicial referral hearings to divert people accused of minor administration of justice offences, like bail breaches, from the traditional court process. These hearings allow the police or a prosecutor to bring the person’s file before a judge to review the individual’s bail conditions instead of charging the accused with a new offence.”   Related article: The Lawyer’s Daily – Amanda Jerome  Chief Justice Wagner hopes stakeholders will ‘explore new ways to use technology’   Related article:  CBC News – Catharine Tunney  Ottawa should explore removing Mounties from communities, MPs suggest – Report also recommends empowering the RCMP’s watchdog   Related article: Blogger Russell Webster (UK) – Prison and Probation commit to digital future  (The British Prison system commits to five digital objectives by 2024)

The Conversation (Canada) – Jack L. Rozdilsky
The terrorism charge filed in the London attack is the first of its kind in Canada

So far, Public Safety says, there have been 55 terrorism charges laid, mostly for activities outsides Canada’s border.  This London incident is the first charge of domestic terrorism.  Canada’s definition of terrorism:  “An act or omission, in or outside Canada, that is committed in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause, and in whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public…The implication is that for terrorism charges to legally stick to the alleged London truck attacker, those portions of the case will hinge on the ability of the prosecution to prove that the motive for the attack is consistent with Canada’s definition of terrorist activity.”

 House of Parliament
Bill C-15: An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Known as UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People), C-15 has now passed the Canadian Senate (on June 16, 2021 – cf status: )  and will shortly become law in Canada.  The purpose of the act is defined within the legislation:  “The purpose of this Act is to (a) affirm the Declaration as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law; and (b) provide a framework for the Government of Canada’s implementation of the Declaration.”   Actual Bill C-15 with the UN Declaration:

The Intercept (US) – Rachel M. Cohen
Connecticut Lawmakers Want to Try Again to Make Prison Phone Calls Completely Free – Advocates are optimistic about a new round of legislation to curb predatory phone rates in the state — and pressure is mounting in Washington.

Prominent among the accusations of profiting from the plight of prisoners and their families is the state and commercial providers for the telephone / video conferencing calls to prisoners for both legal consultation and family moments.  Connecticut law makers want to make it a free service but the effort is meeting with resistance.  This effort is the second to make these services free.  Securus Technology, the national provider of services, has two lobbyists fighting the loss of business.  Curiously, Connecticut’s prisoners may be paying already in anticipation of the loss: “A 15-minute phone call between an incarcerated person in Connecticut and a family member costs nearly $5, at $0.21-$0.325 per minute. Rhode Island, its next-door neighbor for example, charges $0.029 per minute.”

Washington Post (US) – Lenny Bernstein
Addiction treatment had failed. Could brain surgery save him? Experimental surgery has kept Gerod Buckhalter sober for more than 600 days. His success shows what may be possible.

For Buckhalter, the choice was either experimental brain surgery or certain death from drug addiction.  “More than 600 days after he underwent the experimental surgery, Buckhalter has not touched drugs again — an outcome so outlandishly successful that neither he nor his doctors dared hope it could happen. He is the only person in the United States to ever have substance use disorder relieved by deep brain stimulation. The procedure has reversed Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and a few other intractable conditions, but had never been attempted for drug addiction here.”

 From Christine Lecompte at National HQ for CSC, Restorative Justice Division:

We are happy to announce that we will again be including articles in our Resource Kit for distribution during RJ Week 2021.   If you are interested in writing a submission, please be in touch for details and deadlines.