The anti-Stephen campaign (Harper, of course)

The current government has about 30% support among voters at the moment and that should embarrass them. It embarrasses us, but for different reasons. Perhaps one day, when lightning strikes the Peace Tower twice, a progressive thinking government will allow ranked balloting or proportional representation in this country. For now though, we have to play by the rules we’ve got.

turnoverarocktoday is making a small effort to fly its colours in enemy territory. We’ve picked finance minister Joe Oliver’s riding of Eglinton/Lawrence in Toronto as a battlefield worth contesting. The issues we address are humanitarian, a measure of the worth of a candidate’s moral compass. We are not supporting the views of any opponents of Mr. Oliver. We are asserting that Mr. Oliver is not qualified to sit in the House as a member of the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper.

Here’s the handout and mailer:

DO YOU SUPPORT
STEPHEN & THE CONSERVATIVES?

STAND IN FRONT OF A MIRROR
READ THIS

YOU SUPPORT A PARTY LED BY A MAN WHO BELIEVES
TORTURING TEENAGERS IS OKAY.

YOU SUPPORT A PARTY LED BY A MAN WHO DISMISSES
THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE OF OUR TIME……
…….CLIMATE CHANGE.
NOW
LOOK UP

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON LOOKING BACK AT YOU?

IT’S LONG PAST TIME STEVE AND HIS FRIENDS ARE
OUT OF GOVERNMENT
OUT OF OTTAWA
OUT OF CANADA

turnoverarocktoday.com
& the give-a-damn team

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“Go clean your room!”

Toronto’s Star and Globe both ran front pages on August 20 covering Ontario’s Advocate for Children and Youth’s 78 page review of practices in the province’s juvenile prisons, focusing in particular on the use of solitary confinement. While this research paper is likely the first of its kind in the country, the recommendations are far from new and the government bodies involved have been presented with similar and like material in the past.

As the advocate noted, if parents treated their children in the same way the juvenile penal system often does, the province would be apprehending those kids. “On what planet who would think that that kind of treatment of anyone, let alone a young person, would help?” is how chief advocate Irwin Elman characterized the use of solitary confinement in some cases. Other issues also surfaced, none a surprise to a seasoned observer.

We’ve argued that our politicians and their principal civil service staffers can’t know what goes on in the trenches, and apparently don’t want to know. Deniability ensures tenure. Just as strongly we’ve made the point that, up and down the line, our penal systems’ primary programming appears to stress job guarantees.

August 21, 2015

The Honourable Tracy MacCharles,
Ministry of Children & Youth Services,
14th Floor,
56 Wellesley Street West,
Toronto, ON M5S 2S3

Re: Advocate of Children &Youth report

Dear Minister MacCharles:

“Go clean your room!”
How many times would you expect to say that to a child before the work actually gets done?
The children/youth advocate’s new report on the use of solitary confinement in youth detention centres makes a number of recommendations. This is far from the first time your ministry has seen the same or like proposals, and while incremental improvements are in place, there’s still a long way to go. Your response calls for a yet another “thorough review”.
My suggestion? “Go clean your room.”
You’re aware too you have some civil servants in our detention centres, living off the public purse, who are contravening ministry policy, and even violating the law. Yet, they’re still on the payroll.
Again, “Go clean your room.”

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
cc Kathleen Wynne

Finally…..a beam of light.

Late on the night of Wednesday, August 5th, an email from Montreal lawyer Stephen Fineberg began with…..

..THIS EVENING I HAVE THE MATERIAL IN MY HANDS….

He hadn’t started his review, but the packaging indicated there were 4 DVD discs recorded by a hand-held camera, and one DVD disc from a fixed camera.

As well, “we have also received a number of pages of written reports. Some material has been withheld on the authority of Privacy Act section 22(1)(c): disclosure would be injurious to the security of penal institutions; and section 26: requested material concerns another individual who has not given his consent, and certain conditions listed in section 8 are met. Section 8 allows for exclusion in multiple situations, including the public interest in disclosure does not clearly outweigh any invasion of privacy that could result from the disclosure.”

No conclusions should be assumed about the contents. Time will tell if/what information has been excluded, particularly the most incriminating of the DVDs.

Brennan wants copies of everything when that can be arranged although much, if not all, is in French.

This can’t be repeated often enough. We elect, appoint, and employ men and women to be our nation’s housekeepers. This isn’t easy work. But, it’s unfortunate that one of the first things these men and women servants do is build firewalls to protect themselves from………us.

How much do you want to spend on lawyers?

A few years ago, a federal prison inmate in British Columbia asked for permission to buy a $20 thesaurus. He was taking an educational program where this would help, and although the prison library had a thesaurus, this inmate wanted to have a copy handy for work in the off hours. The institution denied him.

He spoke with a fellow inmate, a certified paralegal, they took Correctional Service of Canada to court and in August of 2010, a judge in a federal court in B.C. found in favour of the inmate. The legal costs for this inmate and his paralegal representative were less than $100. The cost to you for government lawyers to defend CSC was $9028.45.

This is one of scores of similar cases where you are spending your tax dollars to protect a system in need of a ground-up overhaul. Almost all never get media attention.

The Globe and Mail’s July 18, 2015 edition published Sean Fine’s “Thousands of inmates could join lawsuit.” Mr. Fine is one of the papers justice writers, and his story is focused on a 34 year-old federal prisoner with emotional and mental health concerns who is at the centre of a $600-million class-action lawsuit claiming “Canada’s use of solitary confinement and lack of timely access to prescription drugs violate the rights of the mentally ill.” The inmate is in Edmonton Institution but the action was filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday, July 18. It could take several months for the court to decide to certify the lawsuit, authorizing it to go forward.

This article goes on to lay out the details for the basis of the claim, citing negligence and breach of the government’s duties toward mentally ill prisoners. It’s not a pretty picture. James Sayce, a Toronto lawyer connected to the action, points out that, “The extreme injuries that these individuals have suffered should be compensated. The fact that they’ve made mistakes in their lives, committed crimes, doesn’t give the government carte blanche to treat them as it sees fit.”

Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Just as you spent $9,000 to prevent an inmate from bettering himself, and will spend a great deal more to face the challenge outlined in this potential class action, these are but two of many, many legal entanglements Correctional Service of Canada is juggling. Even turnoverarocktoday is supporting a claim……see Justice for Brennan Guigue.

Just how much do you want to spend on lawyers before we insist CSC turn a corner toward a more enlightened approach to rebuilding lives?

Canada’s human-rights watch

“A sobering look at Canada’s human-rights record” Globe and Mail, op-ed, July 10, 2015 
Alex Neve, Secretary-General, Amnesty International Canada

“Report slams Canada’s human rights record” The Toronto Star, July 24, 2015
Donovan Vincent, staff reporter

“UN report details failings in Canada’s human-rights record” Globe and Mail, July 24
Stephanie Levitz, Ottawa bureau

“Canada should heed UN’s human rights warning” The Toronto Star, op-ed, July 24
Renu J. Mandhame, University of Toronto, international human rights program

As a signatory to the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Canada is subject to periodic reviews of its human rights record. One recently concluded, the first in 10 years, was conducted by a committee drawn from countries around the world, including Britain’s Sir Nigel Rodley, a law professor and chair of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. “This is not the Canada I once knew,” was his comment after six hours of back-and-forth over two days between the UN committee and a sizeable Canadian contingent from various federal departments and the province of Quebec.

Canada is not among the worst violators in the world of course, and reviews include all countries who are a party to the covenant. Signatories are obliged to protect all rights, and there’s an expectation that a country with the resources like ours would set a high example for others to follow. That is not the picture that emerged.

The July 23rd final report raises concerns about discrimination under the federal Indian Act, makes many references to the Anti-Terrorism Act Bill C-5l, points to a failure to recognize and protect aboriginal land rights, and decry’s the direction Canada is taking with cuts to health care for refugees. Canada still appears dismissive of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and, our representatives were clear that we have no human-rights responsibilities for Canadian mining companies operating abroad.

The list goes on: ignoring requests from the UN to delay troubling cases of deportation pending thorough examinations, making no commitment for human-rights talks with governments across Canada for the first time since 1988 in order to ensure implementation of international obligations, an unwillingness to hold a public inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women, homelessness, torture, pay equity, prison conditions, police conduct, Canadian Revenue Agency investigations of political activity of charities, and more. It was difficult to find a serious social issue that had not come up. Some research pointed to high levels of fear and intimidation Canadian activists felt on the freedoms of assembly and association.

The government’s response through Foreign Affairs is to say, “We are proud of our human-rights record at home and abroad.”

Don’t laugh. They mean it.