Well, we've been having some interesting family discussions over dinner recently. Topics have included: marijuana, driver reaction time after consuming alcohol, how nicotine stains your fingers; the intense pain caused by Tasering; bras and body hair. One night, we even examined diagrams of male and female reproductive organs.
I woke up Wednesday morning to a message from my friend Nathan. He had been attacked on his way home from another friend's house. In spite of how fortunate he is to be alive, this story didn't have to end this way. One of the most troubling parts of what happened is the fact that no one stopped to help him while he was lying there unconscious. We can't let it be this way. If you see someone being assaulted or attacked, please do something. I'm not saying that you should intervene or put yourself in danger, but there are so many ways to help.
This past fall I was carded by a Toronto police officer near my own neighbourhood. It wasn't my first time. After returning home that day I did some research on the topic of police surveillance and came across Body Worn Cameras (BWC). They would prove that Toronto police disproportionately target minorities and community outrage in the city is justified. The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all measure that restores public trust in police. But in Toronto, where there is a clear crisis of distrust between minority communities and police, it becomes clear that police officers might have to wear these Body Worn Cameras to regain some of that trust.
At the end of March, Canadian military personnel will leave Afghanistan. That is too soon. As the second largest contributing nation to the training mission after the U.S., Canada's contributions to this capacity development are too valuable to withdraw this close to the finish line. Canada should renew its training mission for another term, and continue contributing to the Afghan mission in an area in which it clearly excels. Canada should stay, and continue to add value to the effort of training and educating Afghan soldiers and police. We have given too much and come too far to walk out this close to the finish line, and with so much progress at stake.
Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela is a global icon. His legendary ascension from prisoner to President is the stuff of fairytales. In this time of international mourning, our leaders should wipe their crocodile tears and reflect upon their actions, or lack thereof, in fulfilling the promise of racial equality which Nelson Mandela stood for. Mandela may no longer be with us, but his legacy, his message and his estimable struggle live on. They reside inside all of us who acknowledge that the pursuit of integration and equity belongs not in the apartheid past in a foreign land but in the bosom of our beloved nation.
It's pretty shocking that after months of an expensive police surveillance, the most compelling evidence produced in the Ford investigation are photos of people acting suspiciously. Criminal investigations of serious crimes are always about obtaining direct rather than circumstantial evidence wherever possible. They're about tapes, paper trails and drug tests, not semi-useless photos of people with envelopes and plastic bags.
They were at a cottage. Just two days ago on a crisp September morning. My friend sat on a raft with her 19-month-old little boy. They were cuddling and soaking up the sunshine when she heard a strange noise; her toddler started to shake and wail uncontrollably. When her husband rushed over to them, another shot hit the boat beside them.
You can't watch the police riot at the G20 summit or the killing of Sammy Yatim in the bus on all those smartphones and surveillance cameras without believing that maybe, just maybe, the era of the thin blue line endlessly protecting its own might be ending. Not because the cops have cleaned up their act. But because now they're being watched.
While in Mexico, I was told "There's a tricky turn on Mex 1 just as you're getting into Tijuana. Be ready to make a quick left, almost an about-face, to get to the border crossing. If you miss it, you'll be heading into Tijuana." And: "If a Mexican cop pulls you over, just hand him 20 dollars. It'll save you a lot of grief." Roger that.
Should police be permitted to impersonate religious figures to elicit confessions from suspects and their relatives? In a social democracy like ours, one that protects the right to a relationship with a religious advisor free from police interference, the answer should be obvious: No. The appeal in question concerns the conviction of Jamaican-Canadians Evol Robinson, Jahmar Welsh and Ruben Pinnock in a Brampton court for the 2004 murder of Youhan Oraha. In pursuing the investigation for this case, a Brampton Ontario police officer of Caribbean origin impersonated a religious priest of the Caribbean Obeah faith in order to solicit confessions from the men's family members.
B.C.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner took a stiff shot at the use of Automatic License Plate Recognition technology by the Victoria police. But it will likely take more than just her efforts to bring this ever-expanding surveillance system back in line with privacy law. The RCMP simply shouldn't be running a surveillance system on people who haven't broken any law, and they shouldn't be able to take advantage of the federal-provincial jurisdictional split to do so either.
Ontario's Attorney General is directing the province's Crown Attorneys to report instances where police officers have lied while under oath. It's the best news to come out of the criminal justice system in a long time. Sort of. The police will then decide whether to charge one of their own, whether to discipline him or her internally, or whether to do nothing at all.
You know them as MasoniChip, or perhaps you've been led to believe it was a state and provincial endeavor intended to protect your little ones. They set up fairs, forge partnerships with law enforcement and even strive to distribute their services through North American public school systems. In Massachusetts this Freemason program was promoted by CBS News from the steps of the official State House and included their police dog, coincidentally named Mason. Reporters only failed to mention the private nod to those promoting him or that government had little to do with it.
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.
Is domestic terrorism, instigated by white supremacists, such as Breivik, on the rise? Recently, more incidents of hate crimes are reported to be taking place, with alarming frequency. There have been at least seven reports of hate crimes targeting Muslims and mosques in the last 10 days in the United States. Here in Canada we look down at the U.S. and say, "well, everything is worse down there, more guns, more violence, more racism." Not so fast. According to Statistics Canada figures from 2009, the frequency of hate crimes are up.
Though incidences of Taser-related deaths have fallen out of the spotlight of late, a new study links the devices with death. If death is a possible consequence of Taser use, particularly when it comes to individuals who may have mental health or drug abuse issues, shouldn't that suggest much more cautious use of these devices?
The Ontario Government has announced they will review how the police respond to the mentally ill. This latest concern about an age-old problem has resulted from a number of fatal shootings involving the police and people with mental illness in Toronto. The police are not mental health professionals and they should not be expected to spend as much time as they do dealing with sick people.