My Submission to the Ontario Consultation: A made-in-Ontario climate change plan

The first thing we need is to keep the independent watchdog agency, the Ontario Environmental Commissioner. Ms Saxe has done a good job, and her 2018 report should be adopted. It is a lot more economical to limit water pollution than pay the price to clean it up afterward. We need to commit funding to programs that protect municipal drinking water sources, as well as increase the protection of wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife across the province. Currently it is getting harder and in many places impossible for homeowners to get home insurance against flooding. One reason basement floods are becoming more prevalent is the loss of wetlands. So increasing the protection of wetlands is essential. Woodlands and wildlife across the province need protection too.

After all, we can’t exist without water.

You’ve asked about the effects that climate change is having on our households, businesses, communities and public infrastructure. Here in Waterloo Region we’re increasingly having extreme weather events. “100 year storms” are happening yearly. In this century in Elmira we’ve had several ice storms, with trees coming down ripping into homes. I understand basement floods are so prevalent that homeowners can’t get insurance to cover them. Even though some governments don’t believe in climate change, the building standards for eavestroughs have changed to accommodate the torrential downpours we get almost every rainfall now. Such rain used to be the exception, now it’s the norm. With all the ice storms, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get our hydro lines underground.

The most valuable help you can give homeowners is subsidies to facilitate retrofitting existing homes.

We also need to protect our water sources for municipal water supplies so we don’t have another Walkerton.

The best way to hold polluters accountable is putting a price on carbon. While I agree cap and trade wasn’t the ideal way to go about it, the federal government’s fee and dividend system is a better choice. Don’t waste our tax dollars fighting a no-win battle.

Binding emission targets can be legislated so we can keep Global warming to 1.5%. We need a 15% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020, 37% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030, and we can be Net Carbon Neutral by 2050. Government has the power to jump start change with legislation. Mandate all government buildings and operations move to zero carbon.

The province needs to support the clean economy, but also support energy efficiency and conservation. We can do that by investing in public transit, and switching to electric buses and trains, and replacing gas stations with charging stations. People want to switch to electric vehicles but many can’t afford it without subsidies.

We need serious investment in cycling infrastructure. New York City has discovered that reducing street parking in favor of protected bike lanes makes the brick and mortar stores in our towns and cities prosper.

Intensification of housing in our urban cores especially along existing public transit lines. This will help keep our farmland and greenbelts secure, so we will have food security.

The greatest efficiency the government can make would be to wind down our nuclear plants whilst ramping up alternative energy initiatives. Wind and solar are only part of the story, geothermal is good too. Encouraging micro energy generation, especially for farmers and folks living in rural Ontario would help them help themselves. As they do in Europe, small biogas genberators can be fuelled by organic waste generated by the farm property would help make them secure.

But we really need to do what’s necessary to protect our environment.

 


Today is the deadline to submit.
https://www.ontario.ca/form/tell-us-your-ideas-climate-change

Advertisements

Lest We Forget

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D.

Remembrance Day is supposed to be about remembering our war dead.  Although Canadians are told the red poppy sold by the Royal Canadian Legion is supposed to symbolize all war dead, in truth the red poppy symbol has become synonymous with Canadian military veterans and their families in Canada.

Whenever Remembrance Day rolls around, the focus is always on the two World Wars of the 20th Century.  Yet World War I wasn’t called World War until there was a second World War.  The war that inspired Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem was originally known as “The War to End All Wars.”

But as often happens, the haunting words of Dr McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” were used almost from the start as a war promotion.

It is one of the most quoted poems from the war. As a result of its immediate popularity, parts of the poem were used in efforts and appeals to recruit soldiers and raise money selling war bonds. Its references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict. The poem and poppy are prominent Remembrance Day symbols throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, particularly in Canada, where “In Flanders Fields” is one of the nation’s best-known literary works. The poem is also widely known in the United States, where it is associated with Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Wikipedia

In Flanders fields the poppies grow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. -- John McCrae Although we are admonished “lest we forget,” war is still very much with us.  And perhaps the most frightening thing about it is that Canada has been at war for most of the 21st Century, but we are barely aware of this fact.  Think of any WWI war movie; no matter where it’s set, everyone everywhere, whether or not they supported the war, everyone  was acutely aware it was going on.

Viet Nam changed all that.

When the people at home were faced with the unromanticized horrors of war, up close and personal at their dinner tables, an anti war movement of epic proportions arose, making it near impossible to keep the war going.

Governments learned from this mistake, and so the news coverage shared with the populace in the Main Stream Media is carefully managed.

Here in Canada, those of us at home are barely aware we’re at war at all.  Many still bask in the outdated notion that the Canadian military is engaged in Peacekeeping. To get a real look at what the situation actually is, we need to know the facts. Fortunately, the Internet allows us to discover what the MSM fails to tell us.

That’s why I believe this video of Tamara LorinczKeynote I recorded at the KWPeace Perspectives on Peace 2018 Symposiumis so important.

Canadians need to know.

I’ve heard it said one reason the Canadian Government (whether run by Conservatives or Liberals) insists it can’t afford to adequately compensate our war veterans is because advances in medical technology means 21st Century veterans are much more likely to survive than WWI vets.  It used to be that most casualties in war were sustained by the military, but these days that is no longer anywhere close to being true: civilian casualties vastly surpass those of the military.

What Colour is your Poppy?

Even though funds raised through red poppy sales are ostensibly to help our veterans, the symbol is so entwined with the mythos of war that I personally can no longer bear to wear one.

The Canadian Voice of Women For Peace champions the white poppy in Canada with its own White Poppy Campaign. The white poppy is the only one for me because it truly symbolizes all the casualties of war, winners and losers, soldiers and civilians, and just as important, it asks for peace.

—Laurel L. Russwurm
November 11th, 2018



Tamara Lorincz is a Balsillie School PhD Student, and a member of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace https://vowpeace.org/ ans a member of • Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space http://www.space4peace.org/

Tamara Lorincz’s Slides are available at  http://kwpeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/…

Subscribe to the KWPeace Event Calendar https://kwpeace.ca/ to keep abreast of Waterloo Region Peace and Justice events.

Criminal Code: Murder or Manslaughter

The word "Court" intertwined in the fascia above the side entrance to Toronto's Old City Hall from the dayIn online conversations I’ve had regarding the Colten Boushie killing, there seems to be some confusion about the law, but there doesn’t have to be in this Internet age when we can access Canadian law online.

Citizens don’t need to be lawyers to read The Criminal Code of Canada and discover the difference between what we think our laws are and what they actually are.

Although I am not a lawyer, I have highlighted what I think are the pertinent portions of the Criminal Code that are potentially relevant to the Colten Boushie killing.


Culpable homicide (4) Culpable homicide is murder or manslaughter or infanticide. Marginal note:Idem (5) A person commits culpable homicide when he causes the death of a human being, (a) by means of an unlawful act; (b) by criminal negligence; (c) by causing that human being, by threats or fear of violence or by deception, to do anything that causes his death; or (d) by wilfully frightening that human being, in the case of a child or sick person.


Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide Marginal note:Murder 229 Culpable homicide is murder (a) where the person who causes the death of a human being (i) means to cause his death, or (ii) means to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and is reckless whether death ensues or not; (b) where a person, meaning to cause death to a human being or meaning to cause him bodily harm that he knows is likely to cause his death, and being reckless whether death ensues or not, by accident or mistake causes death to another human being, notwithstanding that he does not mean to cause death or bodily harm to that human being; or (c) where a person, for an unlawful object, does anything that he knows or ought to know is likely to cause death, and thereby causes death to a human being, notwithstanding that he desires to effect his object without causing death or bodily harm to any human being.


Murder reduced to manslaughter 232 (1) Culpable homicide that otherwise would be murder may be reduced to manslaughter if the person who committed it did so in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation. Marginal note:What is provocation (2) Conduct of the victim that would constitute an indictable offence under this Act that is punishable by five or more years of imprisonment and that is of such a nature as to be sufficient to deprive an ordinary person of the power of self-control is provocation for the purposes of this section, if the accused acted on it on the sudden and before there was time for their passion to cool. Marginal note:Questions of fact (3) For the purposes of this section, the questions (a) whether the conduct of the victim amounted to provocation under subsection (2), and (b) whether the accused was deprived of the power of self-control by the provocation that he alleges he received, are questions of fact, but no one shall be deemed to have given provocation to another by doing anything that he had a legal right to do, or by doing anything that the accused incited him to do in order to provide the accused with an excuse for causing death or bodily harm to any human being.


Manslaughter 234 Culpable homicide that is not murder or infanticide is manslaughter.


Manslaughter 236 Every person who commits manslaughter is guilty of an indictable offence and liable (a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and (b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.


Conviction for infanticide or manslaughter on charge of murder (3) Subject to subsection (4), where a count charges murder and the evidence proves manslaughter or infanticide but does not prove murder, the jury may find the accused not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter or infanticide, but shall not on that count find the accused guilty of any other offence. Marginal note:


You are, of course, welcome to check out the law for yourself:

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/FullText.html


In the trial of Gerald Stanley, an all-white jury runs from justice

[guest post by Robert Jago]

Last night, a crowded Saskatchewan courtroom heard the verdict of the 12-person jury in the trial of 56-year-old Gerald Stanley, the white farmer charged in the 2016 shooting death of Red Pheasant First Nation member Colten Boushie. The decision to find Stanley ‘not guilty’ of the second-degree murder of 22-year-old Boushie set off a firestorm of reaction across social media, on both sides of the case. Here, Indigenous entrepreneur and commentator Robert Jago shares his perspective on what we should take away from the verdict.


There is a video from outside the courthouse in Battleford, Saskatchewan last night. It shows a screen which is split in four and displaying the courtroom, the jury box, the judge, and the accused in the Gerald Stanley case.

As the verdict is announced, there are gasps and shouts; Colten Boushie’s mother cries out. Bailiffs grab Gerald Stanley and run out of the frame, and to a waiting truck under heavy RCMP protection.

In the jury box, a dark-haired woman in a short dress, and long hooded sweater jumps up as Stanley passes, and runs off camera herself—getting away from the family and the assembled Indians in the courtroom.

I would like to think that she ran because she was ashamed of what she had just done. But the likelier answer is that she ran for the same reason that she and her fellow members of the all-white jury found Gerald Stanley not guilty of killing 22-year-old Colten Boushie. They were afraid of Indians, especially angry Indians.

And let’s dispense, for a moment, with those words “First Nations” and “Indigenous,” because those imply respect, and progress. Today, it is clear that we’re still “Indians.”

“Fights with Native kids were a too-common part of [my friend’s childhood] experience … It’s no overstatement to point out that such kids were, on average, rougher than the white kids, or that they were touchier…”

That is a quote from the best-selling non-fiction book in Canada this week, Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. Natives are rougher, touchier. The Indians are restless—run.

Some people in this country are worried about schools engaging in social engineering to manipulate children into holding certain political views. They’re right to be worried. It is school that taught that woman when to run. It was newspapers, TV, films, it was books. It was every comment and joke that taught her to run; it was the Premier of her province urging “calm” after the verdict. It was what her boss told her at her part-time job—’Watch that Indian over there, I think he’s stealing.’ She was taught to run, and to think that Indians, especially young male Indians, are scary—subconsciously, it sunk in, that they’re wild and dangerous animals.

If a fox is stealing chickens, it’s not enough to chase it away, you need to put it down. Gerald Stanley put Colten Boushie down at point-blank range, and because these jurors were raised to see us as scary animals, to think of us as wild “wagon burners”—a slur you hear on the Prairies—it was easy for them to see why he was justified. ‘It could have been me and my family,’ they undoubtedly thought—and who wouldn’t do anything to protect their families?

Gerald Stanley had a family, and one that looked like those of the all-white jury. Colten Boushie didn’t have a family. Indians don’t have “families.” They have braves and squaws, chiefs and papooses, bitches and thugs—but not a mother and father like the Stanleys are.

When you hear the mother of a deceased child wail in agony for the verdict you’ve brought down, you hang your head, and quietly and respectfully leave. On the other hand, when you get between a wild animal and its mother, you run. That woman in the jury reacted like Colten Boushie’s mother was a charging bear, not a grieving mother.

Don’t say that this is about Saskatchewan, or the defence, or those racists over there. And don’t say that Canada failed Indigenous people—Canada just failed. It wasn’t a mob of racists that released a killer onto the streets—it was 12 regular Canadians.

These are Canadians who have lived their entire lives hearing excuses for why they don’t need to care about Indians. Why care about tainted drinking water on reserves? ‘Those greedy chiefs are probably taking the money, those Indians need to sort themselves out first.’ Why care about the crisis in Thunder Bay? ‘It’s Indians killing Indians, Indians drinking too much and falling in the water, what are we supposed to do?’ For every problem that Indians face in this country, there is a ready excuse, a fig leaf, to shield Canada from blame.

The defence presented a case that centered around a magic bullet. It is a hard story to believe, but you don’t have to believe it. You don’t need a hard sell to get an addict to buy your meth. And you don’t need a hard sell to push a fig leaf on people who don’t know how to live without one.

If you don’t know how it is that so many reserves live in poverty, or why the prisons are full of our people, or why there are so many suicides, boil-water advisories, why there are so many Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, why any of the dysfunction and failure and tragedy that is the “Indian Problem” in this country exists, look for your answer in the Gerald Stanley verdict.

To find Gerald Stanley guilty, would be to find him responsible for his actions—actions which resulted in the death of Colten Boushie, an Indian. But we don’t do that in this country. White Canada is not to be held responsible for what has happened to Indians.

The school that teaches you to run, also teaches you that you’re the good guys in this story, and that everything that has befallen our Indian race was inevitable, it came on us like a force of nature. Who can blame you for a flood or an ice storm? Who can blame you for tainted water, or blame Gerald Stanley for just doing what any of you would do in the same situation? The jury decided that blame, as always, belonged to the Indian, for trespassing on this farm and putting himself in harm’s way. The best of you will shake your head and pity him, the poor animal, for not knowing better—but what can you do?

I feared that the jury would come down with a manslaughter conviction instead of the murder conviction that was due. No part of me thought they would let him go and believe this story. I honestly thought it was hyperbole to think that Stanley could get away with what he did, because as bad as some people say it all is, people claim to have good intentions, and things are better, aren’t they?

But they’re not. That’s what the verdict shows. That’s why she’s running.


This important piece by Robert Jago was originally published on
MEDIA INDIGENA.


post script: Robert Jago gave permission to readers to repost his article on their own sites.  Distributing work in this way can help spread it all over the Internet, making it harder to erase.
And shortly after it was published someone did indeed try to erase it:

Indigenous media site knocked offline following Gerald Stanley critique.

Evidence and Verdict #JusticeForColten

[guest post by Robert Feist]

Evidence

As I have been asked by a couple people, I wanted to provide a few thoughts on the evidence at the Gerald Stanley trial. I have kept on top of the trial, as it is of historic importance to our community; have followed the evidence closely in person, in media, and on Twitter; and attended to watch summations of the Crown and Defence cases this morning.

Before talking about the key issues, it is worth talking about what the key issues aren’t.

First, there is no debate about basic who, what, when, and where questions. Gerald Stanley held the gun that discharged and killed Colten Boushie and the resultant injury was the cause of death. No debate there was a homicide or that Gerald Stanley caused that homicide. All of that is admitted.

Second, the case is not about self-defence. All the internet yapping about “castle law” and “property rights” came to nothing at trial, and Mr. Stanley did not make a self-defence argument – because the Defence lawyer, knowing his job, knew that Gerald Stanley was not under threat when the gun was fired. In Canadian law, lethal force in self-defence is only justified in the face of threat of serious injury or death to you or another person. That threat did not exist in this case, and, wisely, the Defence did not grasp at that straw. This case changes nothing about the right to self-defence, and those nonsense arguments should stop.

The issue the jury is forced to decide on – the defence put to the jury – is limited only to the defence of accident. And here is where the evidence put forward by Gerald Stanley is exceptionally interesting.

To set the scene (and you will likely know much of this, so skip this paragraph if you like) on the day in question, an SUV carrying Colten Boushie and four other young people came on to the Stanley farm, and was located at various points on the Stanley driveway. Gerald Stanley and his son Sheldon formed the opinion that the young people had come to the farm to steal, and Mr. Stanley and Sheldon Stanley decided to give some form of chase or response. Sheldon ran toward the vehicle and smashed the windshield with a hammer he was carrying. Mr. Stanley kicked out the tail light. After the windshield was smashed, the vehicle carrying Boushie took a hard turn into an SUV owned by the Stanleys, and the Stanleys felt the crash was deliberate and potentially a run at Sheldon. Gerald Stanley ran back to his shed and got a Tokarev pistol. Sheldon went to the house, where there were several other firearms. One of the witnesses in the vehicle claimed that Gerald yelled at Sheldon to go to the house to get a firearm, but Sheldon’s evidence was that he went to the house to retrieve his keys. At that point, Boushie’s vehicle appeared to have been immobilized in the Stanleys’ driveway, and two male occupants exited the vehicle. Two female occupants and Boushie, who was likely passed out or asleep, stayed inside.

Now, here is the crux of Mr. Stanley’s evidence on his defence of accident – and where Mr. Stanley’s evidence becomes truly amazing.

Stanley claimed while in the shed, he loaded the Tokarev with three shells. He claimed he thought he loaded two, but later realized there were three – the same number the RCMP found had been discharged.

Stanley then claimed he pointed the semi-automatic Tokarev up in the air, and began pulling the trigger, to fire “warning shots”. He claimed he fired two warning shots, and after that believed the firearm was empty. After the shots were fired, the two males who exited the vehicle ran from the scene, leaving only Boushie and two female occupants in the vehicle.

Gerald Stanley then claimed, even though he believed he had only put two rounds in the Tokarev, that he pulled the trigger several more times after the warning shots to make the firearm safe, and nothing happened. He then claimed he opened the slide and removed the magazine, also to ensure the firearm was made safe.

Gerald Stanley then claimed he saw the riding lawnmower his wife had been driving parked on the lawn, with his wife no longer driving, and somehow formed the belief that she may have been run over by the vehicle containing Boushie.

Gerald Stanley then claimed he ran to the Boushie vehicle, and wanted to look underneath it to ensure his wife was not there. He claimed as he was going to look under the vehicle, the vehicle revved its engine, and he decided he needed to turn the vehicle off.

Gerald Stanley then claimed, holding the Tokarev in his right hand, he reached through the Boushie SUV’s driver side window with his left hand to try to turn off the ignition. (I encourage you to actually try this, on a vehicle, and think about why you would use your left hand to turn off a vehicle as opposed to switching hands and putting the firearm in your left. Motion it out. Using your left hand makes no sense, and is incredibly awkward.)

Gerald Stanley then claimed that, as he was trying to turn the ignition off, the Tokarev was in his right hand pointed at Colten Boushie’s skull. And Stanley claimed at that moment, a hang-fire occurred – there was still a shell in the Chamber, and the firearm discharged spontaneously without a trigger pull, killing Colten. Despite the fact Stanley had opened the action, pulled the magazine out, and repeatedly dry-fired it. And despite the fact hang-fires are extremely rare, and normally last less than half-a-second.

Gerald Stanley’s defence is the defence of accident. If you believe it, his defence explains all of the physical evidence, and most particularly a Tokarev casing found on the SUV dash and Colten’s DNA found on the Tokarev itself. But to believe it completely, you have to accept the following:

A. Gerald Stanley did not know how many rounds he put into the Tokarev;

B. Gerald Stanley, who believed he or his family were under threat, loaded his firearm with two shells, and then fired both shells in the air, leaving his firearm empty and useless for self-defence;

C. Gerald Stanley tried to make the Tokarev safe by repeatedly pulling its trigger into the air;

D. Gerald Stanley took the time, in this situation, to make the Tokarev safe before proceeding to the vehicle he believed had run over his wife;

E. Gerald Stanley believed the Boushie SUV had run over his wife, even though there was no explanation for his belief, other than his wife not being on the lawnmower;

F. Gerald Stanley went to the window of the vehicle to turn the vehicle off to immobilize it, even though the driver had exited the vehicle, and Colten Boushie, the person nearest the steering wheel, was asleep or passed out;

G. Gerald Stanley used his left hand to attempt to turn off the vehicle ignition, keeping the firearm in his right hand, even though he claimed the firearm was made safe, and using your left hand through a driver’s side window to turn off an ignition is incredibly awkward; and

H. Gerald Stanley experienced a hang-fire – an extremely rare occurrence in itself – with a duration of many seconds – an almost impossible length of time for a hang-fire – at the precise second his Tokarev was aimed at close range at Colten Boushie’s skull.

Points A, C, D, E, and F make Mr. Stanley’s story hard to believe. Points B and G simply make no logical sense whatsoever. Point H is beyond reason, and is a submission somewhere along the lines of the magic bullet that shot JFK. While the story raised by Mr. Stanley is not impossible – in the way that suggesting Colten Boushie having died of a heart attack ten seconds before he was shot is not, by way of example, impossible – in my opinion, it is an extreme stretch to suggest that a story of this level of credibility should raise a reasonable doubt as to Mr. Stanley’s intentions.

This is, from what I have reviewed, a fair synopsis of Mr. Stanley’s evidence that the homicide of Colten Boushie was accidental. If you read it, and catch any errors, feel free to point them out, and I may revise.   Here is the link to the CBC synopsis.

I am not sharing this information to tell you that Mr. Stanley is guilty – whether he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is for the jury to decide. Rather, I hope it assists folks in understanding what the trial has been about, what it is clearly not about, and the extremely specific chain of unlikely events the jury will have to believe occurred to accept Mr. Stanley’s incredible version of events.

My thoughts continue to be with the mother and family of Colten through this difficult time.

Court of Queen’s Bench, Battleford SK
(photo by Rob Feist)

Verdict

Last night, I went to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Battleford.

And I watched an all-white jury, instructed by a white judge, under counsel from white Crown Prosecutors and white Defence lawyers, supported by a white clerk, surrounded by white sheriffs, acquit a white man who held the gun that killed an Indigenous man.

The people who gathered with me last night, to suspend their disbelief in hopes that justice would be done, were acutely aware that Courts composed entirely by white people are not an unusual thing in our part of Saskatchewan, and regularly try Indigenous defendants. All that was unusual in this case was that the man in the prisoner’s box shared the skin colour of the folks who made decisions on his fate.

I make no comment on the jury’s decision. I have given my thoughts on the evidence elsewhere. I believe in the right to a fair trial, and the presumption of innocence. What I cannot accept is that the colour of my skin makes me superior to anyone – and I reject as gravely wrong the practice that one racial group sits in judgement of another, while members of that group take benefit of the exclusive judgement of their own.

I have heard clear calls for change and justice over the past few days from people I look up to, and for whose strength and wisdom I have the utmost respect – Jade Tootoosis, Eleanore Sunchild, Alvin Baptiste, Kim Jonathan, and Kenny Moccasin, to name a few. If Saskatchewan, in this time and place, wants to be judged by history as righteous, and just, and upright – if we take the word “justice” seriously – we must not let those calls go ignored.

To Colten’s family, friends, and community, if you happen to read this, for the little my words must be worth right now, I am saddened and I am sorry, and I am inspired by your strength.


Robert Feist is a private practice lawyer in North Battleford, SK
Follow Robert on Facebook or Twitter

UK e-petition 168657 #ERRÉ

Although the Trudeau Government seems to think ERRÉ will go away if they keep their fingers in their ears long enough, nothing could be further from the truth. For the first time in my life, Electoral Reform is on the Canadian radar. Even though most of us don’t understand all the ins and outs, we know there are alternatives to a voting system that requires far too many of us to vote “strategically” if we’re to have any chance of casting a vote that counts. And far too many Canadians who did just that in hope of electing a government that would introduce a fair system have learned a #WinnerTakeAll “majority” government can thumb its nose at voters as they cavalierly choose to break a promise repeated thousands of times during the 2015 election campaign (and after).

PEI picks PR (Brigitte Werner's photo dedicated to the Public Domain with CC0)A majority of voters in Prince Edward Island voted to adopt Mixed Member Proportional Representation in their referendum last year, just as a majority of BC Voters voted to adopt Single Transferable Vote in 2005.

The thing to remember about Canadian referenda is that they actually aren’t a part of the Westminster Parliamentary System, they’re voluntary.  It is entirely up to the government of the day whether or not to hold them.  This generally means governments never embark on a referendum they think could be lost.  That’s why the support of 57.7% of BC voters wasn’t enough to “win.”  And why the BC Government was able to design the next referendum to fail more definitively. That’s why the PEI Government believes they can ignore their results and do it again, this time with a referendum more effectively designed to fail.

Map: 2005: 57.7% of BC voters voted YESBut times have changed.  British Columbia actually has a government that wants Proportional Representation to win the referendum. Granted, the referendum question hasn’t even been announced and the defenders of the status quo are already working hard to spread misinformation.

This is so important because once we get a Proportional Representation government anywhere in Canada, we’ll be able to see for ourselves that it isn’t any harder to vote in a Proportional system.  More importantly, we’ll see that the sky doesn’t actually fall. Instead of having to take anybody’s word for it, we will know (as 90+ countries already using Proportional Representation know) that it is better to vote in a system designed to provide most voters with representation.  For starters, it will mean government policy that most of us will be able to live with.   When votes count, elected governments are accountable to voters.  We’ll be able to see with our own eyes what a difference real representation makes.

Electoral reform is inevitable, it is just a matter of time.  Sadly Canada is not the only country to have such problems.

United Kingdom

Our UK cousins have been striving for Proportional Representation in the United Kingdom for well over a century.  That’s why they had an electoral reform referendum in 2011.  The only problem was that that referendum didn’t actually include Proportional Representation on the menu; the question was whether to keep the winner-take-all First Past The Post or adopt another (arguably worse) winner-take-all system known as Alternative Vote.  [This, by the way, is Prime Minister Trudeau’s preferred system, the one our Liberals tried to rebrand as “Preferential Vote” or “Ranked Ballot.”] Fortunately UK voters chose to keep FPTP

Perhaps what’s most incredible is how many people who ought to know better think it was a Proportional Representation referendum.  I was surprised to hear one of the ERRÉ electoral reform experts from Scotland suggest that was a Proportional Representation referendum. Although the UK continues to use First Past The Post, the devolution governments of Scotland, Wales and Ireland all use some form of Proportional Representation.

Petitions

Canada’s E-616 petition garnered more than 130,000 signatures.  More than any other Parliamentary e-Petition in Canadian history.  There was some thought that this would lead to an actual Parliamentary Debate on the Electoral Reform process promised by the Trudeau Government.  But like everything else in Canada’s colonial government, there is no such guarantee; the party with 100% power can completely ignore such a petition.  Which is exactly what the Trudeau Government did.

But it’s different in the United Kingdom.  When a Parliamentary e-petition in the UK exceeds 100,000 signatures. it triggers an actual Parliamentary Debate.  Recently an Electoral Reform Petition resulted in just such a debate the other day.  It was quite interesting, and if you’re interested in taking a look, it is still online, although I am not sure for how long.  For now at least you can see it at http://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c52f8c49-55ac-44c8-bf23-b1705afadaf8 or choose to download the mp3 to watch at your leisure.

But even if the video is no longer online, you’ll still be able to read it in Hansard here:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-10-30/debates/9D7C1DE6-0EA9-45D2-AD7E-D0EEB3ECCB92/ProportionalRepresentation
[Of course you won’t get to see the Minister squirm in the text version 🙂 ]

It is good to see support for Proportional Representation growing in the UK as well.


Image Credit:

Houses of Parliament by Adrian Pingstone dedicated to the Public Domain

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag background
This is the thirty-third article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

Go back to "An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals"

Proportional Representation Series So Far:

• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
PEI picks Proportional Representation
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
Sign the Petition e-616
#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
• International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD
• An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals
UK e-petition 168657 #ERRÉ

and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

 

Hate Crime in Canada

As a writer I’m a little conflicted about the state censoring free speech.  Freedom requires the ability to speak freely, and in a perfect world everyone should be free to discuss contentious issues.  But words aren’t neutral, and sometimes words are weaponized.  Which is why even nations that protect freedom of speech use law to limit it when necessary.

Defamation and Libel break the law using only words. So does cyber bullying and criminal harassment. False advertising and fraud are crimes that can be committed with words.  And threatening someone is Assault under the Criminal Code of Canada, as is Sedition.  All of these things (and undoubtedly more that I’ve missed) are limitations on free speech.

In addition to these word based crimes that limit our freedom of speech, Canada also has laws against hate speech and hate crime.  Since the election of American President Donald Trump, acts of hatred have been on the rise, not just there, but throughout the world.  Certainly here in Canada.  American society seems especially prone to allowing words and actions used to incite or assault, and even privacy invasion to be protected as “free speech.”

“A hate crime is one in which hate is the motive and can involve intimidation, harassment, physical force or threat of physical force against a person, a group or a property.”

CBC: What is a Hate Crime?

Although there is some variety across Canadian jurisdictions,

“A hate crime is a criminal offence committed against a person or property that is based solely upon the victim’s race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability.”

Metropolitan Toronto Police Force,
2.3 Hate/Bias Crime Definitions used in Canada: Disproportionate Harm: Hate Crime in Canada

Even if there is no other Criminal Code violation, hate crimes can be charged on their own.   But when elements of any crime has aspects of hate crime, either separate additional charges can be laid against the perpetrator, or the punishment can be enhanced by the gravity of the crime.

The Criminal Code of Canada’s Purpose and Principles of Sentencing says:

Fundamental principle

 A sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 156;
  • 1995, c. 22, s. 6.
Marginal note:Other sentencing principles

 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

  • (a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

    • (i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or on any other similar factor,


    • (iii.1) evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, considering their age and other personal circumstances, including their health and financial situation,

Barbara Kentner August 21, 1982 – July 4, 2017

I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t say exactly what charges should be laid against the young man who threw the heavy metal trailer hitch at a couple of random Indigenous women walking down a Thunder Bay street.

From what I’ve read, neither victim or perpetrators knew each other.  The action was deliberate.

The heavy piece of metal didn’t fly out of a car window accidentally or through negligence.

A young man leaned out the window holding the heavy metal object that might weigh as much as 50 pounds— a proverbial blunt instrument.  To put this in perspective, the heaviest legal weight for a bowling ball is 16 pounds.  It wasn’t a small thing to hold, much less throw.

Certainly the other three people in the car with him had to be aware of what he was doing.  Two of them turned themselves in to police the next day, but the perpetrator and the driver of the car did not.

The only explanation for this action lay in the words 18 year old Brayden Bushby shouted after he threw the thing that knocked down and fatally injured Barbara Kentner.

Oh, I got one

These words indicate this was no random act of violence, it was clearly deliberate.  It doesn’t matter whether “one” referred to the gender or race of his victim.  It does matter that these words make clear he wasn’t attacking a specific person, he was targeting women or Indigenous women.  Which makes it a hate crime.

Why do we have hate crime laws?

“The impact of such crimes is far reaching, extending beyond the physical and emotional trauma to the victim, to encompass other members of the groups and broader community. Such crimes can heighten the isolation and vulnerability of the victim’s group and cause stress for all members of the community. If unchecked, these crimes can result in an escalation in social tensions between different groups that can destroy communities, thereby furthering the aims and objectives of those in our society who promote hatred and intolerance.”

— Policing Standards of Ontario

In recent months the Ontario city of Thunder Bay has been prominent in news stories in connection with racism.

In June, Statistics Canada reported that most of the police-reported hate incidents in Thunder Bay targeted Indigenous people, accounting for 29 per cent of all anti-Aboriginal hate crimes across Canada in 2015.

“Young people have told me repeatedly of walking home and having things flung at them out of cars,” Thunder Bay MP and Liberal cabinet minister Patty Hajdu said following the release of the Statistics Canada report.

National Post: Escalating racism toward Indigenous people ‘a real problem’ in Thunder Bay: grand chief

The City of Thunder Bay’s Anti-Racism & Respect Advisory Committee has put together tools for reporting racism.  The situation has become so dire Thunder Bay has joined with the Fort William First Nation and Nishnawbe Aski Nation in hopes of addressing its crisis of racism.

And yet to date, the only criminal charged brought against Brayden Bushby— the man who deliberately threw the trailer hitch that led to Barbara Kentner’s death— is aggravated assault.  Because “investigators did not feel there was enough evidence to call the crime hate-motivated.

I’m no lawyer, but I simply cannot comprehend how a stranger who targeted Indigenous women, killing one in a drive-by, could be anything but a hate crime.   Several reports mention charges might be upgraded based on the Coroner’s Report (whenever it comes out) but so far nothing.

We all must work together to acknowledge that racism exists. We must combat and report racism. We must take this very seriously. This has been going on for far too long. This is our reality as many Indigenous Peoples, especially our women, have come to me with their stories. It’s very disturbing and frightening. There is an escalation of violence in this city, and we must not minimize these horrible situations.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum

Thunder Bay’s Mayor expressed his condolences to the family, but has since been charged with extortion in an unrelated matter, and Thunder Bay police chief’s charges tied to issue with the city’s mayor.  At the same time the Office of the Independent Police Review Directorate, began a review of the Thunder Bay Police last November in response to “allegations of “systemic racism” when dealing with all cases of murdered and missing indigenous people.

Clearly the City of Thunder Bay is in crisis, but nonetheless the justice system can not be allowed to forget the 34 year old mother who lost her life, who spent months dying in agony,  because a man didn’t recognize she was a human being.  He didn’t think there would be consequences for his grotesque act.

But a life was taken.  Barbara Kentner’s life was taken.

Woman. Sister. Aunt. Cousin. Mother.

A life that can’t ever be returned to a family and community that mourns the senseless loss.

We as a society must say “NO” to hate speech and hate crime.  The best way to do this is by teaching our children not to hate.  But apparently not enough of us are.  Education and outreach programs can help, but until then, the way to deal with hate crimes and violence is through the justice system.   It seems Thunder Bay’s Crown Prosecutor needs to be reminded justice demands this perpetrator must answer for taking a life.  Not for vengeance, but because every life has value.  And hate crimes have real consequences.

Justice must be done.  Which is why I’m asking you to join me in signing this petition.  Please sign and share.

Sign The Petition to the Crown Prosecutor Thunder Bay:
Ensure Barbara Kentner’s Justice: Brayden Bushby Must Be Charged With More Serious Charges

UPDATE:  On November 3rd the charges against Barbara Kentner’s accused assailant were finally upgraded to second degree murder.  

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition.