Updating ‘alternative facts’…….

Updating ‘alternative facts’…… 

…….policing in the age of video

………prison postings return next week.

From a February 5th posting last year:-

“Waseem Khan was in downtown Toronto with his wife on the last Tuesday morning in January, taking his daughter to daycare. He saw one in a group of police officers pull a man from the back seat of a cruiser, put him face down on the ground, and then kick the man in the head. Khan stopped after witnessing that, took out his phone, and began recording from about 20 feet away.
The video shows an officer stomping on the man’s legs, telling him to “stop resisting”, even though the man was motionless and may have been unconscious. Two officers approached Khan, telling him to stop recording, threatening to take his phone as evidence (which they cannot do), and suggesting the man under police control might spit at him and transmit AIDS (which is not true). Khan stopped recording shortly after, but filed a complaint, calling police behavior ‘disgusting’.”

Khan’s complaint to the Office of Independent Police Review Director was investigated and charges of discreditable conduct and use of excessive force were laid against Sgt. Eduardo Miranda.

At a tribunal hearing last week, Mr. Khan received an apology from the sergeant. Both charges were withdrawn following mediation facilitated by the OIPRD, and a settlement which does have any financial component is confidential. Both Waseem Khan and his lawyer believe the apology is sincere. Toronto Police said they were also reviewing its use-of-force protocols and intended to address misinformation about the transmission of the AIDS virus.

After the incident last year, police spokespeople had suggested that the video did not tell the whole story, and ‘alternative facts’ (although that terminology was not used) played a role in what was recorded by Mr. Khan’s phone.

We raise two points:
The police knew they were being recorded in January of 2017, yet events unfolded as filmed. What doesn’t get recorded when a camera isn’t around?
The video didn’t tell the whole story police say. That’s correct. But we asked a question to conclude that posting back on February 5, 2017….and the tribunal didn’t answer it.

“…under what circumstance is it okay for a police officer to kick a prone man in the head?”


“Once Upon a Time…..”

…….a beginning for the fantasies we’d like to make reality.

For years, the home page of the Correctional Service of Canada’s web site highlighted a Mission Statement that hit all the right notes, committing the Service to the highest ideals for a prison agency prioritizing safe communities through progressive rehabilitation programming for the men and women offenders under its charge.

Well, web sites get updated, refreshed and refined. Somewhere along the way, that Mission Statement disappeared from the site. To CSC critics, it always had little connection to day to day real-life operations in Canada’s federal prisons.


Anne Kelly replaced Don Head as commissioner of Correctional Service of Canada in July of this year. After 35 years of experience with CSC, she’s as aware of the Service’s strengths and weaknesses as her predecessor.

Nonetheless, to suggest “recommended areas of focus”, her political boss Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, wrote a long Commissioner’s Mandate Letter in September, unusual in that it was made public and published on the CSC web site.

Quoting a core paragraph, published in part in our ‘”Corrections” in Canada? Really?’ on September 30:-
“As Commissioner, you play a key role in ensuring that CSC protects Canadian communities through appropriate custodial measures, effective rehabilitation and safe reintegration of people serving federal sentence. Your responsibility to Canadians is to ensure that when offenders return to their communities, they are well-prepared to lead safe, productive, law-abiding lives; your responsibility to CSC employees is to ensure that they have a safe and supportive workplace in which to carry out the Service’s mandate; your responsibility to victims of crime is to ensure that they receive the compassion, respect and information from CSC to which they are entitled; and your responsibility to the people in your custody is to ensure that they receive the programming, interventions and treatment they require, in an environment that is safe, secure and humane.”

A tall order…..and worth a read of the entire document. We wrote the minister:-

October 9, 2018

The Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety,

Re: Commissioner’s mandate letter – 2018-09-05

Dear Minister Goodale:

I’m a Correctional Service of Canada ‘specialist’, and first took notice of our federal prison service about 50 years ago, tentatively stepped onto the field as an activist in the mid 1980s, and developed a concerned interest 21 years ago after leaving behind a business career.

A Mission Statement that once headed CSC’s web site home page disappeared long ago. Your September mandate letter to new Commissioner Anne Kelly is a noble and fearless directive, a worthy successor to the earlier undertaking. That your letter is published in its entirety on the CSC site is a bold endorsement of an enlightened future for the Service.

Unfortunately, over many years of CSC observation and research, the distance between the ideal and the practice is a chasm, making the Office of the Correctional Investigator a necessity. A firewall supported by special interests within the Service regrettably silences the voices of clients/patients/offenders whose input must be essential in measuring the efficacy of CSC’s work towards its better purpose.

By copy of this letter, I’m suggesting that Commissioner Kelly make your letter required reading by all CSC staff members, citing its goals as hard targets, and not whimsical options.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

cc Anne Kelly, Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada
Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Next time, we’ll begin to look at how fairy tales can be brought to life.

What’s a screwdriver?

Vodka and orange juice is one……
…..the Government of Canada is too.

….another pause in prison postings…..

“What does it take…..” from May 20 earlier this year focused on the federal government’s attempts to bedevil Abousfian Abdelrazik’s lawsuit against Canada and CSIS for its neglect back in 2003 and the years following. In it, we published a letter to Ralph Goodale.

The Justice Department walked away from a mediation session at the 11th hour and referred media to Public Safety Minister Goodale for comment. The government opted to let Mr. Abdelrazik’s action go to court, a move that “will cost us all more in the end, and looks to be a safe political option to deflect criticism of a pre-emptive settlement,” we wrote. There was no response from Mr. Goodale.

A trial date for this $27 million claim was set for September 14, later rescheduled to the 17th.

Then came a Toronto Star story late in August suggesting that “as many as 35 witnesses could appear during the eight-week proceedings in Ottawa,” including Liberal and Conservative MPs and senators. One notable exception who was refusing to testify was Peter Harder, the Liberal government’s representative in the Senate, a former deputy minister of foreign affairs. He was invoking his legal privilege as a senator to avoid appearing in court.

The article went on to underscore that while the federal government settled lawsuits against Canada for its role in the imprisonment abroad of Maher Arar, Omar Khadr, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmed Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin as examples, it had abruptly cancelled mediation talks with Abousfian Abdelrazik and his lawyers.

We sent Senator Harder a brief letter criticizing his decision to excuse himself from “the right thing to do.”

But, this Canada, our country, had a surprise for Mr. Abelrazik.

The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail published similar columns from their respective Ottawa bureaus on September 19. “Judge halts man’s case against CSIS, feds,” said the Star, complimenting the Globe’s “Judge agrees to delay torture lawsuit.”

Justice Martine St-Louis “reluctantly” decided on the previous day to indefinitely delay the trial, granting the Crown’s request for a “long-term adjournment.” The Crown argued the trial should be put off while another court undertook a “national security” review of the 5,500 redacted documents that had already been released to Abdelrazik. The judge did order federal lawyers to provide monthly reports on how the review was progressing and granted Mr. Abdelrazik’s legal team “all costs in preparation of the trial that have been thrown away” because of the adjournment.

This stall tactic is fueled by the politics of fear, and is most certainly not “the right thing to do.”

What’s a screwdriver? Look to Ottawa.