Aug. 20, 2021

MacLean’s Magazine – Michael Friscolanti
Every 49 minutes… That’s how frequently people died of drug poisoning in Canada during one dreadful week last summer.  Here their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters share a message: the opioid crisis touches everyone.

Friscolanti draws attention to a problem whose solution has long been known but for which the political will has been long time missing: deaths from opiate addiction, carried on in the shadows, shunned by the public, breaking hearts of loved ones, interrupted by police from time to time, and supplied frequently with inappropriate solutions, more harmful than the problem.   Friscolanti powerfully updates the family personal toll and the public failures over a seven day period in which 207 addicts died, 29 people a day for seven days.  https://www.macleans.ca/author/mfriscolanti/   (Print version available now but delayed in electronic version)

CBC News –
Montreal police, intervention workers set up trial response team amid calls for reform – The service will be available seven days per week as of September

The Montreal police are conceding that not all 911 calls can be handled by armed police.  The city is setting up a social intervention team to respond to calls about people in psychological distress in public spaces downtown.  “The city and the Société de Développement Social’s announcement comes after several community groups demanded Montreal deploy unarmed agents and mental health specialists to answer emergency calls made for urgent mental health care.” https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-spvm-intervention-workers-911-call-mental-health-crisis-1.6145189

 CBC News – Nick Boisvert
Federal parties all say they’ll make housing more affordable. Here’s what we know about their plans – The platforms, and a few policy ideas that experts say are badly needed

In the face of the federal election, each of the political parties has developed a platform on housing issues.  The Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and the Green are offering their views and anticipating the impact and future of housing in the immediate future, a key element in personal economic security.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/affordable-housing-2021-election-1.6145799  Related article:  Homeless Hub   Harm Reduction for the Homelessness Sector – Self-paced training on harm reduction and substance use for service providers in the housing and homelessness sector.   (An electronic training series around housing issues – First section is on substance use)   https://homelessnesslearninghub.ca/trainings/harm-reduction-for-the-homelessness-sector/

Lawyer’s Daily – Nawshin Ahmed
 Prostitution law reform in Canada: Considering shortcomings of Bill C-36

Bill 36 has a history of legal challenge in Canada.  The link offers a review of the history and a commentary on the perceived deficiencies of the moment, especially around sex trafficking.  “Bill C-36 complicates the procedure of prostitution and endangers the lives of sex workers by restricting certain aspects of sex work, thereby reversing the constitutional progress of Bedford. This legislation limits the scope of communication by prohibiting soliciting for the purpose of prostitution in the presence of minors in a public arena. This endangers the lives of prostitutes who may go to remote areas to converse with their clients or rush into vehicles without sufficiently screening the clients.”   https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/29102/prostitution-law-reform-in-canada-considering-shortcomings-of-bill-c-36-?nl_pk=40ed8ea4-637a-4d76-870f-04f0eeae7de8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=criminal   Bedford Ruling – Supreme Court of Canada https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/2013/2013scc72/2013scc72.html

Welland Tribune (ON) – Jacques Gallant
Justin Trudeau is under fire for his failure to ban conversion therapy. Will it hurt him at the polls?

Remember conversion therapy?  The mistaken notion that gays and lesbians can be transformed into straight people with the application of a type of psychotherapy called conversion.   Conversion therapy does indignity to the person and has been rejected as both failure and inappropriate by most professionals.  In spite, the approach still has a guarded existence and in the last election the Liberals promised new legislation to ban the practice. “The clamour about conversion therapy on the very first day of the race suggested that greater focus will be placed on LGBTQ issues during this election campaign. It also raises questions, including: Can the Liberals overcome accusations that they’ve been pandering to the LGBTQ community, recycling promises that they were not able to implement following their last election victory?  Can the Conservatives persuade Canadians that they can be trusted to take action on LGBTQ issues, given their conduct with the conversion therapy bill?”  https://www.wellandtribune.ca/ts/politics/federal-election/2021/08/17/justin-trudeau-is-under-fire-for-his-failure-to-ban-conversion-therapy-will-it-hurt-him-at-the-polls.html

Mayfair Foundation: Advancing Justice – Dr. Mai Phan
Race-based data in the criminal justice system

Canadian Law enforcement have only recently begun to track interaction with Black, Indigenous, Asian and other minorities.  Dr. Phan writes about how these stats should be both collected and then interrupted so as to contribute to solutions rather than inflame more of the same.  She writes that “significant culture change is required to prepare the justice sector to responsibly use race data and achieve equity goals.”   https://maytree.com/publications/race-based-data-in-the-criminal-justice-system/?mc_cid=9812773df1&mc_eid=d3ca2ffb1f

CBC News Catherine Tunney
Mounties to see their salaries soar as first collective agreement is ratified

The results of the first union negotiations with the federal government should be pleasing to most constables: a sizeable increase in salary, meant to address both the current salaries and the recruitment problems for an under strength force.  The new deal – the first in some time – will see the first class constable salary increase by $20,000 / year and the deal includes a retro payment to 2017.    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/rcmp-union-deal-1.6142305

Platform for tax fairness 2021 – Toby Sanger

The link offers an analysis of the cost of the Covid-19 virus and the various efforts to sustain a very different type of economy and need by people.  Then the author suggests what needs to happen now, and how we can pay for the programs needed to establish some sort of equity in the economy while at the same reining in those aspects of the economy that create and sustain inequity and hardship for so many.  https://www.taxfairness.ca/fr/node/1368  Full document (PDF format) Canadians for Tax Fairness:   https://www.taxfairness.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/c4tf_platform_for_tax_fairness_2021.pdf

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Long-term prisoners’ perceptions of the outside world – Research into long-term prisoners’ sensory perceptions of the outside world, in particular through hearing, seeing and smelling.

This link offers a different insight.  We have traditionally focused on the personal impact of long sentences accompanied perhaps with long periods of isolation or solitary.  The commentary looks rather at how the prisoners view the world outside the prison if they are serving a long sentence.  The study has reported on the very specific impact of the senses – hearing, seeing and smelling when the only possible perceptions are from within the walls.   Says author Irene Marti:  “While prison life is characterised by “eventlessness” – very little happens and every day is punctuated by a very rigid set of repeated events, access to the daily rhythms and routines of the outside community (e.g. in the shape of moving cars and people walking on the street) or the evolving seasons, for instance, in the form of a ‘forest that changes its colours’  gives prisoners a sense of the passage of time.”  https://www.russellwebster.com/long-term-prisoners-perceptions-of-the-outside-world/   Full report: Irene Marti (Abstract and article)   Sensing freedom: Insights into long-term prisoners’ perceptions of the outside world   https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/26326663211013703

Indianapolis Star (US) – Elizabeth DePompei
‘Patience is thin’: As expansion of violence interrupter effort nears, death toll mounts

A new approach to prevention of violence has surfaced under the Public Health:  “The idea is that interrupters, sometimes called “credible messengers,” have a better chance at reaching people at high-risk of perpetuating violence or being victimized. The hope is that interrupters can put those people on a better path and stop the cycle of violence that has plagued Indianapolis for years.”  The project, say the advocates, while successful after 8 months, needs expansion while the city experiences high numbers of people killed and wounded.  https://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2021/08/11/indianapolis-crime-interrupters-report-successes-but-not-there-yet/5471836001/

KETV (Omaha) –
Billboards, bus stop ads bring awareness to school-to-prison pipeline – You’ll see these billboards popping up across the Omaha metro. The hope is to create change and keep children of color from ending up in the prison system.

The bill boards are meant to help in the prevention of the school-to-prison pipeline.  In particular they draw attention to the additional disadvantage that the Black student faces compared to the White counterpart.  The bill boards are sponsored by the local ACLU. https://www.ketv.com/article/billboards-bus-stop-ads-bring-awareness-to-school-to-prison-pipeline/37320951


Tweet from Joshua B. Hoe (US):  “I ask again….  If police and incarceration stop crime…  If incarceration ends crime… And America spends more on police and incarcerates more people than any other country on earth… Why do we have a ‘crime problem’?  Think differently!”