After close to a decade of preparation, University of Victoria is preparing a law program that will incorporate the laws, customs and traditions of indigenous cultures from around Canada with a traditional legal education. It's an important step towards reconciliation between Canada's mainstream and the native communities in our country that the government has marginalized and brutalized up until very recent times.
This isn't the University of Victoria's first indigenous law rodeo, either. According to the Globe and Mail, the institution ran a law school in Canada's far north between 2001 and 2005. The school, called Akitsiraq, featured heavily on Inuit law and tradition.
This inclusion of the laws and customs of Canada's indigenous people in a law school's curriculum is a big deal. Canada's white establishment (of which I include myself in) is used to seeing its legal show ran on a framework of laws and traditions that feature heavily on our British colonial legacy. Currently, Canadian lawyers are only trained to interpret and operate within this framework. By throwing the laws and views of Canada's indigenous nations into the mix, a new, truly Canadian legal system could form – one that gives all of the nation's citizens a fair shake. From the Globe and Mail:
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Up to 25 students are expected to begin in September, pending approval of the program by B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Tuition and fees will be just under $11,000 a year, the same as at the school’s common-law program.
Two of the largest parts of a journalist's job are waiting and making phone calls. When you're waiting, it's likely for someone to return a call. When you're making a phone call, it's likely to set up an interview, or interview someone over the phone, Skype or whatever.
Antoine Trépanier is a reporter for Radio-Canada: it's the French language farm of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Think PBS, only Beyond the Wall. Recently Trépanier was covering a story about a manager from a high-profile NPO falsely representing herself as a lawyer. Just another day in the dry-as-a-popcorn-fart world of public broadcasting. He called this individual, Yvonne Dubé, the executive director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter in Gatineau, Quebec, to see if she'd be interested in sitting for an interview. She was down with the idea, or so it seemed. She cancelled the interview at the last moment. Trépanier emailed her, explaining that Radio Canada was going to run the story on his investigation. He wanted her to have the opportunity to comment on the allegations being leveled against her.
The next day, the Gatineau police dropped by to arrest Trépanier for criminal harassment.
According to the CBC, The Crown (our Queen-loving version of a district attorney) hasn't decided whether the charges will make it into court. The story of Trépanier's arrest touches on the topic of where the right of a journalist to contact a source ends and the rights of a source begin. It's an important issue: How much does the public's right to know about a topic that could effect their lives matter versus an individual's right to privacy? Read the rest
Viola Desmond was the badass mother of the Canadian civil rights movement.
Born in 1914 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she grew up in the predominately pale-faced province avoiding notoriety until until she was old enough to leave home. In her home province, her skin color made it impossible for her to attend beauty school – local educators wouldn't have her. Determined to better herself, Desmond traveled to Montreal for her education as an aesthetician, before continuing on to Atlantic city and New York City to round out her skills. Returning to Nova Scotia, she opened her own beauty salon – the first by a black woman in the province. While chasing down her dream of being a business owner is impressive, it's not what brought her the most notoriety in our country.
While attending a movie in the village of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946, she called bullshit on the theatre's bigoted ticketing rules. The owner of the theater demanded that whites and blacks sit in different parts of the building. Additionally, anyone with skin that wasn't as white as the driven snow was forced to pay an additional penny for the privilege of seeing a film. Desmond refused to pay more than the white moviegoers did, nor would she comply with the owner's order to leave the whites-only seating area. For her trouble, she was charged for a tax violation – it was the only way that the government of her day could punish her for daring to defy the horse shit of racial segregation. Read the rest
Toronto is one of the many great world cities that has been rendered nearly unlivable by real-estate speculation, both from onshore investors and offshore ones. Read the rest
Until recently, under Canadian law, prison administrators could confine their charges to an indefinite period in solitary confinement. Thanks to a pair of high profile court rulings, this could change in a big way, provided the Federal government can get its shit together.
Last month, the Supreme Court in the Canadian province of British Columbia struck down a law that allowed prisoners to be kept indefinitely in solitary confinement. It was a huge win for prison inmates and society: long-term solitary confinement does nothing to rehabilitate or condition an individual to become a more productive member of society. Worse, as humans are social animals, being locked away from our peers for long periods of time can cause psychological trauma--that's not something you want to do to someone who'll eventually be released back into society. Human rights activists in BC applauded the court's decision. Unfortunately, a similar case, heard in a different region of Canada, is keeping the verdict from changing the country's confinement laws.
This past December, a Superior Court Judge in the province of Ontario handed down a verdict that found that solitary confinement lasting any longer than five days is absolute bullshit, according to the Canadian constitution. But, as the CBC details, the practice of doing so does not violate the constitutional rights of the individual being thrown into solitary.
Both verdicts have merit, but which has more weight?
It's a question that the Canadian government has decided can only be answered by another run through the legal system. Read the rest
I love you, America! Between living in your country as a digital nomad for part of the year and attending events as part of my job, I've spent a lot of time in the United States. One of the biggest misconceptions that I've run into when talking to my American pals is that they believe we receive free healthcare.
This is mostly incorrect.
Most Canadians, with the exception of Alberta, where I live for half of the year, either pay for our hospital and doctor visits as part of our taxes or are billed monthly by the province we live in. Having been born and raised in Canada, I've taken for granted being able to see doctors or receiving emergency medical care whenever I need it – right up to the point where I no longer could. I needed to visit the hospital, shortly after moving from one province to another. I'd registered as a resident there, but my paperwork had somehow been lost. A month after seeing a doctor, I received an $800 bill in the mail. So, that sucked. Even when things work the way that they're meant to, not everything is covered. Things like dentistry, massage therapy or counseling only happen on a pay-per-use basis, or if you're lucky enough to have a job that affords you a health plan. I fall into this latter group, thanks to my partner.
And then there's the cost of drugs.
Alphabet division Sidewalk Labs (a sister company to Google) is poised to spend $50,000,000 to redevelop a piece of Toronto waterfront called Quayside, filling it with "modular, dynamic" buildings that can be reconfigured as their uses change, data-gathering sensors that will help Sidewalk refine its own products and also allow Quayside to tune its zoning, usage, and management from moment to moment, as well as a new Google headquarters and a bunch of startups, and "affordable" micro-apartments starting at 162 square feet. Read the rest
It's been nearly a year since Trump killed the Trans Pacific Partnership by pulling the US out of it; last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada and the other TPP countries would sign the agreement without the USA -- an announcement timed to coincide with Trump's appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, presenting the TPP nations as a kind of coalition of the willing for political moderation and maturity. Read the rest
Hours after CTV published the firsthand accounts of two women who say they experienced sexual advances and at least one assault from Ontario Conservative Party leader Patrick Brown, Brown has resigned, leaving the party leaderless shortly before a key election. Read the rest
Sears Canada has been in serious financial trouble since 2013, when workers wrote to the CEO and regulators and senior politicians to ask that their pensions be safeguarded. They were ignored, as they had been since 2009, when they first started asking for greater scrutiny of the pension fund. Read the rest
My middle-school used to take us on field trips to the Spaced Out Library, the Toronto Public Library's science fiction reference collection founded by legendary author, critic, editor and activist Judith Merril, who emigrated to Canada after witnessing the police brutality at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention. Read the rest