Earlier this month, Nicole Doucet was brought in front of the Supreme Court of Canada after she tried to have her allegedly abusive ex-husband, Michael Ryan, killed. She hired a hitman to do the job for $25,000, but unfortunately for Nicole and fortunately for Michael, the assassin turned out to be an undercover RCMP officer. Despite that, Nicole was ultimately absolved by the Supreme Court of Canada.
There are topics I wish I didn't have to write about, because I wish they didn't touch our community. I don't feel it is right to ignore them when they are happening, though, because it is only through frank and open dialogue that we can resolve some issues, and educate on others. It can be troubling to write about them, but it is also honest, and I think the most important thing we can do in this community is to be honest, and not only about what is great about us. We also need to be honest about the problems we encounter, too.
Another jail opened in Nunavut last week. It is long overdue -- the existing facility in Iqaluit, Baffin Correctional Centre is, as Justice Mahar of the Nunavut Court of Justice recently said, "notoriously over crowded and under resourced." And yet a rather bland factual news story about the opening of the new prison in Rankin was met with a flood of angry comments about over pampered prisoners, club fed hotels and similar complaints.
The Somali Canadian population is "undergoing the growing pains of integration into the larger Canadian mainstream" according to the head of the influential Somali Canadian Congress. Ahmed Hussen, a noted activist and newly minted Ottawa University lawyer, reflects on mentorship, influence and integration for Canada's large Somali population.
Increasing numbers of military veterans are entering the U.S. prison system. Why? A recent study highlights the important role that anger can play in how well veterans reintegrate into society after traumatic tours of duty -- and how likely they are to run into problems in prison, if that's where they end up.
Earlier today, Toronto City Councillor Georgio Mammoliti caused a stir when he discounted an independent report by Toronto's esteemed Ombudsman, Fiona Crean. In her report, she found that the appointments to city agencies and boards had been "compromised" by political influence. As a public servant, Mammoliti has advocated ideas that are disturbing at best. In a heated exchange, Councillor Perks spoke for all of us when he told Coun. Mammoliti, "Shame on you -- get out of this chamber" and called him a "bully."
The unusually forceful language in the recent government report titled "Marginalized" underscores the abject failure of this government's simplistic and outdated "tough on crime" approach, particularly for Canada's Aboriginal population. Aboriginal peoples are 4 per cent of the Canadian population, but 20 per cent of the prison population. All Canadians must realize that it is in all of our interests -- in terms of public safety, cost and untapped human potential -- to heed the call of this report and take "aggressive action" to deal with this national disgrace.
A book has been written about him. He has cavorted with mafia bosses, terrorists, smugglers, murderers and thieves. It is even believed that he knows the final resting place of Teamsters' boss Jimmy Hoffa. Marvin "the Weasel" Elkind, a petty thief, little-known pro boxer, born in Jewish Toronto, shunted through foster homes ending up in reform school has a story that reads like a Hollywood gangster movie.
Once upon a time I wrote a book about being a journalist in the 21st century. I was leafing through its pages last evening, when I stopped at the chapter The Less Things Change... It's about my time, 50 years ago, working as reporter/anchor at a startup TV station in Zambia. The chapter starts by describing how we got our foreign news film back there in the 60s. Even after all these years, much is still the same.
Canada has always been recognized as being one of the safest countries in the world, boasting exceptionally low murder and violent crime rates, particularly in comparison to our American counterparts. However, a recent rise in gun violence on the streets of Canada's largest city has left many Canadians concerned about how safe our communities truly are. This violence has left many Canadians wondering whether we should advance tough-on-crime agendas. But having worked with many vulnerable populations I firmly believe that our time and resources would be better spent in addressing the issue of youth violence by investing in long-term preventative solutions and programs.
After Statistics Canada reported that police-reported crime was at its lowest level in 40 years, Vic Toews tweeted "Crime rate down 6% -- shows CPC tough on crime is working." I couldn't really understand how Bill C-10, which doesn't even begin to come into force until August 9 of this year, could somehow be responsible for a drop in crime in previous years. But then I realized...Toews must be the MP version of The Terminator: "A human-looking, apparently unstoppable cyborg (or in this case, Public Safety Minister) is sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor (or in this case, crime)."
Earlier today, an identified man was discovered in a school playground and pronounced dead from gunshot wounds. The latest killing was Toronto's 30th homicide of the year. In a desperate city that is looking for answers, its mayor, Rob Ford, and member of the mayor's executive committee, Councillor Michael Thompson, offer unusual Tea Party-like simple solutions to a complex made in Canada problem.
Canada is showing up in U.S. news media reports more than usual these days, and the stories suggest that a crime wave is underway. The lurid reports of feet and limbs being mailed to political party offices in Ottawa, and the recent food court shooting at Toronto's Eaton Centre, have fueled that perception.
As tough as it is to face, the truth is that too many of the Toronto's policies targeting guns and gang violence have been of little more than symbolic value, and of minimal effect in the communities most closely affected by this urban scourge. Rob Ford is running a Toronto where shootings for 2012 are now reported to be up more than 54.7 per cent over since the same period in 2011.
Time for prisoners to start paying their own way, says the Minister for Public Safety, Vic Toews. This will invariably lead to the reduction of community corrections programs that have been shown to best promote successful rehabilitation and reintegration. What if instead of trying to break the cycle of poverty-to-prison-to-poverty, we actively embraced it?
Here in Quebec, we have an original approach to youth crime that works. In 2010, the severity of youth crime in Quebec was the lowest in Canada, proof that we are not "soft" on crime but rather that we are smart and "tough" on its root causes. But now the Harper government wants to ignore the evidence and change that approach.