The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Stéphane Dion, recently declared that Canada "should join this important protocol" -- the United Nations' Protocol against Torture. More than a decade after it was initially passed, Canada is still sitting on the bench and watching cases after cases of torture happening.
Those who support the Conservatives see their party as practicing and upholding traditional family, moral and biblical values. Even though the Conservative government is extreme and disrespectful of science, knowledge, fact and rationality, its supporters would simply overlook faults even when they are glaring.
In Provencher, the Liberals gained 23 per cent compared to the Conservatives who lost 12.5 per cent and the NDP who lost almost 10 per cent. Provencher is just outside the boundaries of Winnipeg further east from St. Boniface but at the same time, Provencher is one of the safest conservative seats in the country - not to mention rural.
The arrest by the RCMP of two individuals who were allegedly planning out a terrorist attack on a VIA Rail train will only heighten our level of anxiety as the scare hits closer to home. Reintroducing these provisions seems nothing more than an attempt by the Conservative government to further prove its 'tough on terror' credentials. But when our laws appear to be working -- results of brave and successful law enforcement operations -- attempting to play on our fears by using emotion over reason does not do justice to the seriousness this discussion this requires.
Since Manitoba's religious schools receive over 50 per cent of their funding from the province, they are all being mandated to comply with the proposed legislation: Bill 18 -- required to implement an anti-bullying strategy that includes gay-straight alliances. Our rights cannot exist in a vacuum, isolated from the reality around them. Rights engage with other rights. Not only does our Charter have a built-in provision to permit the limiting of rights in certain situations, but also, the transactional nature of our public lives dictates that different rights will come into contact other rights. Those who oppose Bill 18 should read the Charter in its entirety; it doesn't stop at freedom of religion, nor is there a hierarchy of rights.
Questions were raised in the 1990s when home videos of homeless Americans baited to fight one another for a mere $50 were put on the market. I took solace in trusting Canada was so much better than that. We would never stoop that low. I was wrong. Our own federal government (approved by the Prime Minister's Office) put their stamp of approval on a "misery for reality TV" show. Lowly undocumented workers, desperate to leave their horrible homelands to start a new life in the 11th best country in the world, are now fodder for the cable television subscribers' amusement. It's a corporate venture to garner ratings and valuable advertising dollars under the cloak of "promotion of Canada's commitment to border security."
In the House of Commons, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews said "Individuals with mental health issues do not belong in prisons but rather in professional health facilities." He made this sweeping and dramatic claim in the wake of the release of the Ashley Smith videos, which portrayed her horrendous and inhumane treatment while she was in custody. Toews's comments might give an observer hope -- hope that soon we will stop putting people with mental health problems in jails. But in reality, the actions of the federal government lead to a different, bleaker conclusion.
Sometime in the next few weeks, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is expected to be appointed to the Manitoba Court of Appeal. The Toews appointment is among the worst kept secrets in Ottawa, with the move causing a domino effect that will lead to a new minister and an opportunity for a fresh start on Internet surveillance legislation, one of the government's biggest political blunders to date.
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)."
In a statement Wednesday, Vic Toews said the Omnibus crime bill had not led to the predicted rise in prisoners and prison costs. Either the Public Safety Minister is being intentionally deceptive, or he lacks a basic understanding of how the court system works. I'm not sure which one is more disturbing.
One can tell it is summer in Ottawa because there is a never ending speculation about a cabinet shuffle. With Bev Oda resigning, what will happen next? Will Peter MacKay become justice minister? Will Vic Toews take a judicial posting in Manitoba? And what will happen to the Defence Department?
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is once against in the centre of a major privacy backlash. It has been reported that Canada Border Services has installed surveillance equipment in the Ottawa airport that will allow for eavesdropping on conversations. Canada has already suffered two serious threats to their privacy in recent months. Does it really need a third?
The Canadian government has recently announced a plan to establish grants of $1 million to academic institutions to "study" terrorist threats to Canada. Twenty-seven years after the worst attack on Canadian interests -- the Air India bombing -- and more than a decade after 9/11, the best this government has been able to come up with is $10 million to fund academics to study what we already know?
By abandoning long gun registry, the federal government is saving the taxpayer considerable billions. It was a foolish law from the start, in that it made criminals out of farmers and people in rural areas who didn't trust government assurances, or simply couldn't be bothered to register their rifles and shotguns.
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?
After reading two Canadian prisons are shutting down, I expected there would be some new, high-tech facility to replace them. But I was wrong. The prisoners are being merged. Those people we're tossing in our jails are our neighbours and fellow Canadians, not scum to be cleaned off the soles of our shoes.