Justice (25-42): Current Problems

Fed. Govt.


February 18, 2021


Legislative Issues

Bill C-22 : An Act to amend the Criminal Code….”

Toronto Star – Bill C-22 “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” although a step in the right direction does not go far enough, critics say. The fact that the bill does not remove mandatory minimums for more crimes and does not repeal simple drug possession from the Criminal Code was described by lawyers and advocates as a missed opportunity in an otherwise strong bill.

Senator Kim Pate who introduces legislation in the Senate that would allow judges to use their discretion to deviate from mandatory minimums, expressed disappointment that the government didn’t go further in eliminating more of those penalties. “Bill C-22 emphasizes the vital importance of alternatives to criminalization and imprisonment to redress systemic racism. It is regrettable that the government acknowledges these realities yet stopped short of taking the kinds of bold steps we need right now,” she said. Indigenous people make up 5% of the population yet account for 30% of those incarcerated in Canadian prisons.

Department of Justice: The Bill proposes the following specific reforms:

  • Repeal MMPs for certain offences to address the disproportionate impact on Indigenous and Black offenders, as well as those struggling with substance use and addiction. This would restore the ability of a judge to impose appropriate sentences that respond to the facts of the case before them, including the individual’s experience with systemic racism and the risk they pose to public safety. This moves away from the one-size-fits-all approach, which has not deterred crime but has resulted in unfair outcomes and a less effective criminal justice system, as well as longer and more complex trials.
  • Allow for greater use of conditional Sentence orders (CSOs) in cases where an offender faces a term of less than two years imprisonment and does not pose a threat to public safety. Under these circumstances, judges would have the option to order that the term be served in the community under strict conditions, including house arrest, curfew, and mandatory counselling or treatment for substance abuse. This change would allow for more effective rehabilitation and reintegration by enabling individuals to maintain their employment, or continue caring for children or family members in need. This approach has been proven to reduce recidivism.
  • Require police and prosecutors to consider other measures for simple possession of drugs such as diversion to addiction treatment programs, rather than laying charges or prosecuting individuals for simple possession of an illegal drug.
  • The proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act reinforce the Government’s commitment to treat substance use a health issue, and address the opioid crisis. It also aligns with calls heard from many in the law enforcement community and local leaders across the country.

April 12, 2019


Legislative Issues

Bill S-215 An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Sentencing for Violent Offences Against Aboriginal Women)

Native Women’s Association of Canada – As a supporter of this bill, Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) hoped it would be an important step forward with respect to the urgent issues Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people face today such as heightened likelihood of disappearance, human trafficking, violent crimes, and forced and coerced sterilization. NWAC hoped the House of Commons would see Bill S-215 as a step towards justice for Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people who face so much discrimination in Canada’s legal system.


April 10, 2019


Legislative Issues

Bill S-215 An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Sentencing for Violent Offences Against Aboriginal Women)

Defeat of “Bill S-215, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Sentencing for Violent Offences Against Aboriginal Women)” in the House of Commons during the second reading on April 10, 2019. The Bill would have required a court to take Indigenous female identity into account during the sentencing of offenders.

Those “in favour” of Bill S-215:

NDP = 35; Green = 1; Bloc Québécois = 7 Liberals = 2; Conservatives = 0

This legislative defeat occurs at the same time as the imminent release of the MMIWG Final Report on the overrepresentation of Indigenous Women and Girls as victims of violent crimes. A 2016 report by Amnesty International found that “Indigenous women and girls suffer the highest rates of violence in Canada”


December 4, 2018


Legislative Issues

Bill S-215 An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Sentencing for Violent Offences Against Aboriginal Women)

Toronto Star – When there’s a large-scale industrial development, when there’s construction camps that are co-located, we have documented increases in the rates of sexual assault, the rates of sexualized violence, the rates of prostitution, the rates of sexually transmitted infections,” said Ginger Gibson, director of the Firelight Group, which does research in Indigenous and local communities in Canada. Firelight’s 2017 report cites a 38 per cent increase in sexual assaults reported to RCMP during the first year of construction on an industrial project in Fort St. James, British Columbia. (Toronto Star)


December 14, 2021


Federal and Provincial Justice Inquiries

Call for a Miscarriage of Justice Commission

APTN – Women and people of colour “urgently” need a commission to review claims of wrongful conviction, say two retired judges. Harry LaForme, the first Indigenous lawyer on an appellate court in Canada, and Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, the first Black judge in Quebec, were tasked with helping formulate a new Criminal Case Review Commission for Justice Canada.

They delivered their report and 51 recommendations to federal Justice Minister David Lametti on Dec. 9.
“The current system has failed to provide remedies for women, Indigenous or Black people in the same proportion as they are represented in Canada’s prisons,” said their executive summary. “We believe that the new commission must be proactive and reach out to potential applicants, including Indigenous people, Black people, women and others who may have reasons to distrust a criminal justice system that had convicted them and denied their appeals.”

They say they were told it was crucial the new body – they suggested be called A Miscarriages of Justice Commission – be independent of government and work proactively to raise awareness of its mission. “Our focus wants to be on what so far has not been in focus, which is people of colour who don’t even know that these kinds of reviews or examinations of their conviction even exist,” LaForme said in an interview Monday. As of now, people must apply to the justice minister to consider wrongful convictions. In the past 20 years, only 20 of those applications have been sent back to the court for new trials or appeal hearings.

“There’s basically one a year. That’s totally unacceptable,” said LaForme, who is Anishinabe and a member of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation in southern Ontario. “Out of those 20, one was Indigenous and one was Black – and they were men.” That number “does not reflect the population at risk for wrongful convictions as measured by the overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black people in Canada’s prisons,” the executive summary said. “We believe that a new proactive and systemic approach is urgently needed.”

Justice Canada has said the number of Indigenous inmates in federal institutions rose to 28 per cent in 2017-2018 from 20 per cent of the total inmate population in 2008-2009, while Indigenous Peoples represent only 4.1 percent of the overall Canadian population. Similarly, it said the percentage of federally incarcerated Indigenous women rose to 40 per cent from 32 per cent of the female inmate population.

LaForme said that’s why the new commission’s outreach efforts must include informing inmates about its existence and services. “They’re going to go out and let people know – who are incarcerated and in prisons – let them know that there is this independent body out there that will be available to look at their allegations of wrongful conviction…and miscarriage of justice,” he said.
https://wrongfulconvictionsreport.org/2021/12/14/canadian-commission-delivers-report-to-establish-moj-commission/


January 12, 2021


Court Challenges

Custody Rating Scale lawsuit

Globe and Mail – A class-action lawsuit filed in federal court challenges the Custody Rating Scale, a 12-question risk assessment tool developed by Correctional Services Canada in the 1980s and in widespread use. The suite is file on behalf of tens of thousands of inmates over systemic bias in its security classifications which affect inmates’ living arrangements, access to treatment programs and likelihood of getting parole. Last year, a Globe and Mail investigation found the scores derived from some of Correctional Service Canada’s most important risk tools, including the Custody Rating Scale, were systemically biased against racialized and female inmates resulting in harsher security ratings than they would have otherwise received.

“1CSC’s ongoing use of [the Custody Rating Scale] on Indigenous inmates must be recognized as the product of deliberate and conscious race-based discriminatory treatment of Indigenous inmates that resulted in and continues to result in, longer and harsher prison sentences for indigenous people, especially Indigenous women,” the statement of claim reads in part. Depending on their score, inmates can expect decreased movement privileges, less access to treatment programs and difficulty getting paroled/

  • Indigenous women were 65% more likely than white women to end up with a maximum-security level at admission and 42% more likely to have the poorest reintegration scores
  • Indigenous men were 30% more likely than white men to receive the worst reintegration potential score at any point during their sentence

October 11, 2018


Court Challenges

Duty to Consult vs Indigenous laws and treaties

The Conservation – Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada Supreme Court Decision ruling on the application of the Duty to Consult doctrine and if it can be applied to the federal legislation-making process. The case originates from Mikisew Cree First Nation’s challenge of the 2012 Omnibus bills introduced under the previous federal government that made significant changes to environmental, fisheries and waters protection.

The decision negated any meaningful involvement of First Nations in the legislative process, a process that can have deep and lasting impacts on First Nation peoples, lands, waters, and Treaty and Inherent Rights. The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the ruling, saying that including the duty to consult in the legislative process offends the doctrine of the separation of powers and the principle of parliamentary privilege.

Recognizing that the 1764 Treaty of Niagara that had more than 2,000 representatives from Indigenous nations gathered over a month to deliberate how they could share the land with European settlers is a foundational “legal” document. Treaties are also part of the law. Section 35 of the 1982 Constitution Act affirms the recognition of this and other Aboriginal and treaty rights. Internationally, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP, which Canada has adopted, acknowledges the rights of Indigenous nations to have treaties and other agreements recognized by settler governments. If the Treaty of Niagara process had been used as a guide, Indigenous governments would be fully informed of proposed changes in law, with time set aside for representatives to come together in order to discuss, deliberate, debate and decide on the merits of these proposed changes. Indigenous legal orders would be recognized as a foundational source of land-use law.

https://theconversation.com/let-indigenous-treaties-not-the-duty-to-consult-lead-us-to-reconciliation-105473


June 30, 2021


Federal and Provincial Justice Inquiries

Exclusion of Métis from Residential School Settlement Agreement

Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak / Women of the Métis Nation (LFMO) – the National Indigenous Women’s Organization representing Métis women across the Métis Nation Motherland, is calling on the Federal Government to commit to a distinctions-based process and supports for Métis Residential School survivors and their families to heal in this unprecedented time of grief and loss for Métis, Inuit, and First Nations people.(After the discovery of about 1,250 unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools). LFMO also sees Canada Day as an opportunity for a call to action from the Government of Canada to address its historic wrongs, including the continued exclusion of Métis survivors.


July 19, 2019


Federal and Provincial Justice Inquiries

Exclusion of Métis from Residential School Settlement Agreement

Métis Nation of Saskatchewan – Île-à-la-Crosse boarding school was operated by the Province of Saskatchewan and the Catholic Church from 1906 to 1976. Former students of the school were not eligible for compensation under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, as the school was never federally operated or administered.

Former Île-à-la-Crosse students filed a class action against the Government of Canada and Province of Saskatchewan in 2005. Plaintiffs allege that both governments are responsible for the sexual abuse, physical abuse, cultural abuse, isolation, and mental and emotional abuse that former students endured while attending the Boarding School. The MOU commits parties to exploratory discussions to address the legacy of the Île-à-la-Crosse boarding school. The parties welcome the participation of the Province of Saskatchewan in the discussions.


January 6, 2021


Targeted Indigenous Groups

Federal Prisoners

The Tyee – Erin O’Toole, leader of the Conservative Party, disagrees with Canada’s vaccination effort that includes a plan to immunize high-risk prisoners in federal prisons — people who are old or sick. The initial wave of vaccinations will reach 600 inmates, about four per cent of the prison population. His comment: “Not one criminal should be vaccinated ahead of any vulnerable Canadian or frontline health worker.” Given that 30%+ of the prison population are Indigenous (42% for Indigenous women), O’Toole’s comments gloss over the fact that a disproportionate number of Indigenous people who only represent 5% of the population in Canada are vastly overrepresented in Canadian prisons.

This comes less than three weeks after O’Toole backed away from — but didn’t apologize for — bizarre comments on the good intentions behind residential schools. But the people behind the plan to take generations of Indigenous children from their families, hold them in horrible conditions and erase their culture had good intentions, O’Toole said. “It was meant to try and provide education,” he told the campus club.

Only after his comments were publicized and calls for his resignation started trending on social media did O’Toole retract his statement.


November 12, 2020


Legislative Issues

Federal, Provincial, Territory Ministers responsible for human rights

NationTalk – 24 civil society groups attending the third ever meeting of Federal, Provincial, Territory Ministers responsible for human rights “condemned the obstructive attitude of some governments” in advancing international human rights obligations. Groups had pressed governments to commit to nation-wide law reform that will legally require governments to adopt a collaborative, accountable, consistent, transparent, well-coordinated approach to effectively implementing international human rights obligations in Canada. No commitment was made. Two governments boycotted the meeting:

  • The government of Quebec opposed included references to “systemic” racism in the final communiqué, a position that blatantly ignores the undeniable reality of deeply-rooted systemic racism in the province and across Canada, and thus reaffirms systemic racism as a nationwide reality.]
  • The government of Alberta considers that the province is not bound to report on or engage with international instruments or mechanisms to which it is not a Party, a position that contravenes international law which makes it clear that federalism is no excuse or justification for failing to comply with international obligations.

In 2017, meeting for the first time in 29 years, ministers made several commitments to strengthen their collaboration in protecting human rights across Canada:

  • Ministers had taken account of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call on federal, provincial and territorial governments to “fully adopt and implement” the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is a shocking and unacceptable omission to see no reference to the Declaration in the final communiqué from this week’s meeting.
  • During the past eight months of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, no government has applied – equitably or otherwise – an explicit economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights framework to analyze the problems laid bare, or to structure solutions.

A widely-endorsed proposal in April 2020 from 302 civil society groups, Indigenous peoples’ organizations and a broad spectrum of subject matter experts to federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to institute meaningful human rights oversight of their COVID-19 responses has not been taken up by any government in the country.

At the current meeting, Ministers discussed the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed that it is “important that human rights principles be considered in the development of plans for a strong and equitable recovery from the pandemic for all Canadians” but in no way acknowledged or even referenced social and economic rights. The proposal for human rights oversight of COVID-19 responses was not addressed.


December 17, 2021


Court Challenges

Incarceration rates of Indigenous people

Correctional Investigator – The Correctional Investigator, Dr. Ivan Zinger, released new data that shows that the proportion of incarcerated Indigenous women has continued to increase unabated, and is nearing 50% of all federally-sentenced women. On January 21, 2020, the Office of the Correctional Investigator reported that the proportion of Indigenous men and women in federal custody had reached a new historic high, surpassing 30% of the overall incarcerated population. The combined men and women Indigenous proportion in federal corrections is now 32%, and climbing.

“In the very near future, Canada will reach a sad milestone where half of all federally sentenced women in custody will be of Indigenous ancestry, despite representing less than 5% of the total population of women in Canada,” stated Dr. Zinger. “Surpassing the 50% threshold suggests that current efforts to reverse the Indigenization of Canada’s correctional population are not having the desired effect and that much bolder and swifter reforms are required.”

The statistical trends indicate that the number of Indigenous people in federal custody is increasing at a time when overall numbers of incarcerated people are declining. “On this trajectory, assuming overall declines in new admissions to custody, Canada will reach historic and unconscionable levels of Indigenous concentration in federal penitentiaries,” said Dr. Zinger. In fact, in the last ten years, the overall Indigenous inmate population has increased by 18.1%, whereas the non-Indigenous incarcerated population has decreased over the same period by 28.26%. “Over-representation of Indigenous people in correctional settings remains one of Canada’s most pressing human rights issues, and is evidence of public policy failures over successive decades as no government has been able to stop or reverse this trend,” said the Correctional Investigator.

Dr. Zinger concluded his statement by calling on Government and the Correctional Service of Canada to fully implement recent calls to action from Parliamentary Committees, Commissions of Inquiry, as well as recommendations from his Office – including creating and appointing a Deputy Commissioner for Indigenous corrections – that would significantly reallocate existing resources from the Correctional Service of Canada to Indigenous communities and groups for the care, custody and supervision of Indigenous people. “Healing Lodges and community-based services owned and operated by Indigenous communities can only yield better outcomes for federally sentenced Indigenous people,” stated Dr. Zinger.


September 9, 2020


Targeted Indigenous Groups

Indigenous Journalists

Toronto Star – Increasing arrests of Indigenous journalists including:

  • Karl Dockstader at 1492 Land Back Lane Haudenosaunee occupation regarding a housing development near Caledonia
  • Courtney Skye, Yellowhead Institute researcher and Ryerson Fellow arrested as well
  • Award-winning journalist Justin Brake was arrested and charged with criminal and civil contempt and criminal mischief while covering a protest at Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland, Four years later all charges were dismissed
  • At the Wet’suwet’en protests in BC
    • Jerome Turner, an award winning Gixstan journalist had shotguns and sniper guns aimed at him
    • Amber Bracken, an award-winning photo-journalist was pushed back and warned to stay away
    • Jesse Winter, an award-winning photojournalist was detained by police
  • Melissa Cox, American documentary filmmaker, was arrested documenting the conflict nearby on unceded Gitxsan territory

Indigenous voices have been stifled in the media and Canadian society for generations. It’s only been in the last decade or two that our stories have gained any substantive traction with the mainstream. Our people are most often portrayed inaccurately in the media via way of stereotypical nuances and negativity that perpetuates the racism that runs rampant in this country. These portrayals aid in the oppression against Indigenous communities that already deal with appalling statistics and human rights violations.

Sept. 4th marked the 25th anniversary of the Ipperwash tragedy where Dudley George, an unarmed Indigenous man was killed by an OPP sniper. While occupying land promised by the federal government to the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. There were no journalists present when George was killed.

Brent Jolly, the President of the Canadian Association of Journalists, condemned the arrest of Karl Dockstader stating: “The OPP are well aware that journalists have an established constitutional right to be present and cover matters of public interest.,” he said, “Attempting to prevent a properly credentialed journalist from documenting a moment of contentious action is impermissible in a country like Canada. Journalism should never be silenced.”


September 27, 2020


Targeted Indigenous Groups

Indigenous Police Forces

Toronto Star – Indigenous Police Forces only police force in Canada not classified as an essential service. The federal government has promised four times “to speed up the development of a legal framework to recognize First Nations policing as an essential service”:

  • after the 2019 election,
  • after the Coastal GasLInk protests in BC
  • in the 2020 Speech from the Throne
  • In June after multiple incidents of police violence against Indigenous people across Canada

“The funding that we receive from them is inadequate to provide the necessary services that our communities require,” said Rama police Chief Jerel Swamp said….Swamp said none of the First Nations policing services or their police boards have been consulted on what legislation need to include, which he argues is essential….The government also hasn’t approached the leaders of the Indigenous communities on the issue yet, he said.”


April 20, 2020


Targeted Indigenous Groups

Indigenous prisoners in federal prisons

BC First Nations Justice Council – First Nations leadership across BC is united in calling for immediate action to protect incarcerated peoples amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak at the Mission Institution is now the third largest outbreak in the Province of BC, with the first inmate tragically passing away on April 15, 2020. Senior health and corrections officials have verified that almost 40% of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Mission Institution are among Indigenous inmates despite Indigenous people making up just 5% of the population in BC.

Doug White, Chairperson of the BC First Nations Justice Council calls the situation an urgent crisis and a ‘ticking time bomb.’ “Indigenous people are vastly over-represented in prisons and carry more than our share of the burden of health issues and chronic disease. These men were sentenced to a term of years, not to death. The duty of care that is upon the Institution in the midst of this crisis requires immediate and comprehensive action to avoid further tragedy. This situation requires extra-ordinary efforts and collaboration.”

The BC First Nations Justice Council, BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN), the Union of BC Indian Chief (UBCIC), and the First Nations Summit (FNS) call on the Government of Canada and the Province of BC to urgently implement the following safety measures:

  • Immediately test all inmates and staff at the Mission Institution;
  • Increase safety and screening measures for workers entering and exiting the facility;
  • Enhance medical surge capacity onsite via mobile medical units to effectively treat emerging cases;
  • Enact isolation protocols which ensure that inmates who test positive are isolated in health facilities with regular monitoring and as much comfort as any other individual, along with meaningful human contact compliant with social distancing;
  • Increase access to counselling and mental health resources in every federal facility in order to mitigate the psychological and emotional consequences of isolation measures and reduced social contact;
  • Develop release plans for as many people as possible, prioritizing those with pre-existing health conditions who are at increased risk due to COVID-19, and immediately release anyone classified low risk with a home in community where they will be able to self- isolation;
  • Include among release criteria a plan for secure housing, financial aid, and community safety, and provide support in meeting these criteria; and
  • Test and isolate all individuals for 14 days before re-entering community.

March 26, 2022


Supreme Court

Is denial of conditional sentences for Indigenous people systemic racism? The Supreme Court will decide

The Toronto Star (Windspeaker.com) – The Supreme Court of Canada will be weighing the arguments it heard March 23 to determine whether the inability to make conditional sentencing available in some cases amounts to systemic racism for Indigenous offenders, infringing on their Charter rights. 

In 2012, the Criminal Code was amended through the Safe Streets and Communities Act to add mandatory minimum incarceration terms for certain offences. Mandatory minimums do not allow for conditional sentences. The nine justices heard arguments from legal counsels for the federal government and provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan about why restrictions on conditional sentences do not infringe on the Charter rights of Indigenous peoples. 

Interveners representing a number of organizations, including Indigenous and women’s groups, argued that the inability of trial judges to fully consider Gladue reports on all charges and thus the inability to use all forms of sentencing – including conditional sentencing – was a restriction that impacted on those Constitutional rights. 

Gladue principles, implemented through Gladue reports, were introduced in the Criminal Code in 1996 in response to the over-representation of Indigenous people in the justice system. When imposing sentences, judges are required to take into consideration the personal impact colonialism has had on Indigenous offenders, which is outlined in the reports.  But Safe Streets made it difficult for judges to implement what they learn through Gladue reports for sentencing and therefore limited the court’s access to remedy the over-incarceration of Indigenous Canadians, said Eva Tache-Green, counsel with Nunavut Legal Aid, first time intervener at the Supreme Court. 

By the time the Ontario Court of Appeal (ONCA) heard Sharma’s appeal and ruled that conditional sentence restrictions infringed upon Sharma’s Charter rights, Sharma had completed her incarceration. The majority of judges said that Sharma should have received an 18-month conditional sentence. 

It is the ONCA’s ruling (one judge dissented) that is being argued at the Supreme Court. 

Legal counsel for the Federation of Indigenous Sovereign Nations (Saskatchewan) and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs argued that Indigenous people had their own systems of justice well before colonial courts took over. They said Gladue reports and conditional sentences were an important part of a Canadian system of justice that continued to ignore and undermine First Nations laws. 

“While the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs does not wish to conflate restorative justice with First Nations legal responses to harm or to suggest that First Nations legal responses to crime must only result in a conditional sentence, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs submits that conditional sentences are a very important means of implementing First Nations laws and perspectives as they may assist in restoring peace and equilibrium,” said legal counsel Carly Fox. 

“Without this particular tool of restorative justice to promote healing and reintegration in a culturally appropriate way, the justice system will continue to fail Indigenous people. There will be a continuing gross incarceration of Indigenous people in Canadian jails and correctional centres,” said legal counsel Eleanore Sunchild. 

“FSIN submits that this honourable court has a very real opportunity here to protect and strengthen the ability of sentencing judges to achieve restorative justice because conditional sentence are one of the only alternatives to incarceration to combat high rates of Indigenous people ending up in facilities.” 

The Supreme Court will deliver its decision at a later unspecified date. 

Windspeaker.com


August 31, 2020


Systemic Racism in Policing

McDonald-Laurier Report on Systemic Racism in Policing

MacDonald-Laurier Institute – “Systemic racism in policing in Canada and approaches to fixing it,” argues that the fault for this lies primarily with political leaders who set the framework conditions and constraints for the delivery of police services. This commentary is based on the author’s written submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Between 2000-2017, 43 individuals were identified as Black (10 unarmed) and 69 were identified as Indigenous (12 unarmed) out of a total of 461 fatal encounters with police statistics – that includes deaths from natural causes, medical complications, overdoses, etc. 16% of all deaths where police are involved are Indigenous who represent under 5% of the total population in Canada

The MLI Systemic Racism Commentary states: Systemic racism represents the historical legacy that institutions have. As society evolves, so does its view of what is right and wrong. Society and policing have both evolved; but society has been and is evolving much faster than policing. So, the gap between civil society and policing has widened. Without a serious, meaningful commitment to systematic reform, it will continue to widen, which will exacerbate tensions. What can be done:

First, leadership alone cannot and will not fix the issue. 40 years of research in political sociology shows that bureaucracies reproduce themselves; in the process, they also reproduce their institutional culture and problems.
Second, we need to have Statistics Canada systematically collect use-of- force data for policing across Canada, including the RCMP.
Third, there needs to be greater emphasis on professionalizing policing. Racist attitudes, overt acts of violence or excessive force suggest that the police officer has assimilated a solipsistic (“us and them”) mentality, which has them to act aggressively rather than risk being hurt themselves.
Lastly, more has to be done to reduce the propensity for violence: the CRCC has explicitly called out the RCMP for the ubiquity of its command and control approach (CRCC 2020).

Recommendations:

  • Change the leadership and management model by civilianizing the senior leadership and management of police forces. Uniformed members should be running operations – but not ultimately be in charge of the whole organization.
  • Increase civilianization of delivery of services. Policing functions have grown as public expectations change and governments under-invest in social services. In the process, police have taken on a growing number of non-policing functions. Canada needs a better model for public and community safety.
  • Community policing: This is particularly problematic for the RCMP: in many locations where the RCMP provides contract policing, uniformed members are neither members of the community they police, nor do they live in that community. What difference does community policing make? In February of this year, the RCMP and OPP were both faced with enforcing injunctions in areas on or near reserves/dedicated Aboriginal land: on Wet’suwet’en territory in BC and Tyendinaga in Ontario. The RCMP’s enforcement action largely discounted the costs to relations with the community;
  • The RCMP is too big and has too many roles, which makes it difficult if not impossible to govern.
    • First, get the RCMP out of contract policing
    • Second, give the responsibility for our whole border to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), as opposed to the current approach in which CBSA shares responsibilities with the RCMP.
    • Third, criminal intelligence should be removed from the federal police force. This can be done by emancipating the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada as a stand-along organization
    • Fourth, the RCMP should be turned into a genuinely federal police force, like the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which can then concentrate solely on genuinely federal priorities and law enforcement operations.

Reforms:

  • give the RCMP separate employer status so it can better control its HR destiny;
  • remunerate members based on skills instead of seniority;
  • completely overhaul the RCMP’s training regimen at the RCMP Academy from the ground up, in order to avoid a para-military command and control mindset;
  • create a completely separate career and professional development framework and path for officers, similar to the military; and
  • underwrite a national 311NG (Next Generation) system to divert non-emergency calls from the 911 system.

https://macdonaldlaurier.ca/files/pdf/20200812_Police_Racism_Leuprecht_COMMENTARY_FWeb.pdf?mc_cid=60d8de7609&mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D.


July 23, 2020


Systemic Racism in Policing

McDonald-Laurier Report on Systemic Racism in Policing

The CBC “Deadly Force” database indicates that the RCMP are 3x more likely to use lethal force than other police forces in Canada. The CBC data found that 68 per cent of people killed in police encounters were suffering with some kind of mental illness, addiction or both. “When we get broader statistical information that are documenting these patterns year after year after year, it’s much more difficult for police officials and politicians to just turn their backs and say that these allegations are unfounded,” University of Toronto Criminologist professor Scot Wortley said. “I really do believe that the idea behind defunding the police, or the concept of defunding the police, is quite a good one in terms of reformulating how we’re going to exercise policing services in our society.”
https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/fatalpoliceencounters/
Lorne Foster, professor at York University has studied race-based data in policing. He says police services should collect this data themselves and use it to inform their policing. “They need to look at this type of data to take the next step and to address these deeply rooted discriminatory features in our society, particularly in relation to their service and the community,” he said.

Tom Stamatakis, national president of the Canadian Police Association, says the trends that CBC identified don’t surprise him — and they won’t change unless underlying issues affecting people with mental health issues and marginalized communities are dealt with.

https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/fatalpoliceencounters/


September 25, 2020


Court Challenges

MMIWG Class Action Lawsuit

Southern Chiefs Organization – Strongly disagrees with the federal government’s arguments that Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people do not face a “special threat from a special source” and are not unique victims of criminal violence. SCO believes they fly in the face of the findings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). The National inquiry into MMIWG found that Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to go missing or be murdered than non-Indigenous women and girls. It also revealed that Indigenous women make up twenty-four percent of all female homicide victims in Canada, yet they only made up four percent of the total population.

The federal government made these arguments in a court hearing in Regina this week, arguing against certification of a $600 million class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of Dianne Bigeagle, whose daughter has been missing since 2007. Bigeagle says she went to police no less than 50 times, yet as far she is aware, they never did a proper investigation and never searched beyond Regina’s city limits. Bigeagle’s description of police treatment show how little law enforcement prioritizes cases of missing Indigenous women and girls. Ms. Bigeagle also is seeking $600 million in compensation for families of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.


June 3, 2019


Federal and Provincial Justice Inquiries

MMIWG Inquiry – Final Report

“National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girl Final Report (MMIWG)” states:

  • Indigenous women and girls are 2.7 times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women.
  • ]Homicide rates for Indigenous women were nearly seven times higher than for non- Indigenous women.
  • One quarter of all female homicide victims in Canada in 2015 were Indigenous, up from nine per cent in 1980. (CBC June 6, 2017)
  • Over the last ten years, the number of Aboriginal women inmates doubled (2005-2015). At the end of March 2018, 40.0% of incarcerated women were of Aboriginal ancestry. (Auditor-General Report 2018).

A permanent commitment to ending the genocide requires addressing the four pathways explored within this report, namely:

  • historical, multigenerational, and intergenerational trauma;
  • social and economic marginalization;
  • maintaining the status quo and institutional lack of will; andignoring the agency and expertise of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
  • Indigenous women make up less than 5% of the population in Canada

It must be understood that these recommendations, which we frame as “Calls for Justice,” are legal imperatives – they are not optional. The Calls for Justice arise from international and domestic human and Indigenous rights laws, including the Charter ̧ the Constitution, and the Honour of the Crown. As such, Canada has a legal obligation to fully implement these Calls for Justice and to ensure Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people live in dignity. We demand a world within which First Nations, Inuit, and Métis families can raise their children with the same safety, security, and human rights that non-Indigenous families do, along with full respect for the Indigenous and human rights of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis families.

https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Final_Report_Vol_1a.pdf

https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Final_Report_Vol_1b.pdf


June 3, 2021


Federal and Provincial Justice Inquiries

MMIWG Inquiry – Government Action Plan Complaints

NationTalk – Ontario Native Women’s Association, Québec Native Women, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Feminist Alliance for International Action – A consortia of Indigenous women’s advocacy groups representing 49% of Indigenous women’s voices in Canada finds that the National Action Plan and Federal Pathway on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is not an adequate response to the crisis of murders and disappearances. The 2021 “National Action Plan: Ending Violence against Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People”, drafted by a working group of selected Indigenous organizations and government officials, sets out a vision, goals, and immediate next steps. This plan does not answer how to keep Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people safe, with no specific information about how, when and by whom concrete actions will be taken. Nowhere in the document do governments acknowledge and accept responsibility for the laws, policies, and practices that contribute to, and perpetuate, the ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples, and specifically of Indigenous women, girls 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

The National Action Plan, together with the Federal Pathway document, are together extremely disappointing because it does not provide the comprehensive, system-wide, inter-governmental plan that is needed to end genocide. There is no commitment for urgent emergency services to prevent the abuse, exploitation, disappearances and murders of Indigenous women and girls; nor is there a monitoring mechanism – independent of the government of Canada – to monitor the urgent end to genocide.

“Considering that there is no coordination between the different levels of government, we ask ourselves what is the use of this work?” Viviane Michel, President, Quebec Native Women

“The Nation-to-Nation process continues to marginalize and alienate Indigenous women and the representatives of their choice from substantive legal, policy and economic decision-making and governance over their own lives.” Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President, Ontario Native Women’s Association

This is not a national action plan. A national action plan defines concrete actions that will be taken and assigns responsibility, resources and timelines for implementing them. This ‘Plan’ does none of that.” Shelagh Day, Chair, Human Rights Committee, Feminist Alliance for International Action

https://nationtalk.ca/story/national-action-plan-and-federal-pathway-will-not-end-genocide-of-indigenous-women-and-girls


June 4, 2021


Federal and Provincial Justice Inquiries

MMIWG Inquiry – OAS Complaint

The Native Women’s Association of Canada -NWAC is taking immediate steps to file a Human Rights complaint in Canada and to request International intervention and investigation by the Organization of American States (OAS) and United Nations (UN) in forcing the federal government to take the steps necessary to end the genocide against Indigenous women, girls and gender diverse people.

NWAC is taking that urgent action following a failed effort on the part of the federal government to table a genuine action plan to address the genocide against Indigenous women in Canada. Two years after the national Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls filed its final report, the federal government table a document called Federal Pathways earlier today in lieu of the national action plan that the Inquiry had mandated. This means that the government is not taking action on the 231 Calls for Justice that are legal imperatives. As set out in Calls for Justice 1.1 the action plan had to have:

  • dedicated funding
  • timelines for implementation
  • measurable goals, and
  • resources dedicated to capacity building, sustainability and long-term solutions.

The government’s Pathways document has none of these. In particular, the action plan had to include an implementation plan, and it does not.


October 4, 2021


Systemic Racism in Policing

SCO Survey on MMIWG Calls for Justice

Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) – “Only 53% of murder cases involving [Indigenous] women and girls have led to charges of homicide. This is dramatically different from the national clearance rate for homicides in Canada, which was last reported as 84%” (NWAC, 2011). Governments and Canadian institutions now need to fully implement the Calls for Justice. We cannot wait any longer – lives depend on it. Our women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people deserve our time, our attention, and our full effort.

The disproportionate level of violence against Indigenous peoples is engrained in systems and institutions as a result of historical and ongoing colonialism, racism, and oppression. Furthermore, inaction and denial from non-Indigenous peoples, institutions, and governments is fueled by a continued denial of basic human dignity that is also deeply rooted in colonialism. As such, addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people (MMIWG2S+) requires system level change through tangible actions that support reconciliation and decolonization efforts.

Of all the SCO community members who participated in this survey, 80% noted that they are either a family member or a friend of a missing or murdered Indigenous woman, girl, or 2SLGBTQQIA person, and/or a survivor of violence. These numbers demonstrate how close this issue is to many survey participants.

Priorities for Action from MMIWG recommendations:

  • Human and Indigenous rights (47%)
  • Justice (40%)
  • Culture and language (39%)
  • Child welfare (39%)
  • Education (37%)
  • Health and wellness (34%)
  • Policing (30%)
  • Human Security (14%)
  • Corrections (14%)
  • Natural Resource Extraction and Development (11%)
  • Media and Social Influencers (8%)

The report identifies multiple actions by key stakeholders in each of the “Priorities for Action”.
https://scoinc.mb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/SCO-MMIWG-Report-Final.pdf


September 21, 2020


Court Challenges

Supreme Court on Indigenous laws

Clarification and validation of Indigenous rights and treaty as asserted by the Supreme Court of Canada in Delgamuukw, 1997.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) – AMC will be intervening at the Supreme Court of Canada…to argue that First Nation constitutional orders are distinct but equal to Euro-Canadian laws. The Court will address the most fundamental constitutional question of our time – the means of addressing climate change. The AMC will propose an analysis, which must recognize the existence of First Nations constitutional orders. The AMC cautions against the incorporation of First Nations laws within the existing Euro-Canadian federalism analysis to address the constitutional question. Instead, the AMC proposes a return to the relationship as it was originally intended by Treaties – one between equal nations with distinct legal traditions. There is confusion on the ground, and as a result Canada has witnessed protests, blockades, and police actions as First Nations, land protectors and corporate interests battle over control of natural resources and development.

On the surface, the case is about the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, the federal government’s carbon tax, and whether it intrudes on provincial jurisdiction. The Act was dealt a blow on Monday, February 24, 2020 when the Court of Appeal of Alberta ruled that the carbon tax is unconstitutional, on the grounds that it intrudes on provincial jurisdiction.

However, neither the federal nor provincial governments acknowledge the existence of First Nations laws. The AMC, represented by the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC), will argue that the Supreme Court has a unique opportunity to address a much deeper reality. AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said, “First Nations people and laws have always been here. These laws continue to govern First Nations’ relationships with the Creator, Mother Earth and all living beings. They are grounded in mutual respect and underpin the Treaty relationship. Our First Nations laws constitute Canada’s first constitutional order, alongside the French Civil Law and English Common Law. This is a constitutional debate that must acknowledge our nation-to-nation relationships and help frame reconciliation.” The AMC contends that this court case exposes an outdated, inaccurate and destructive narrative about Canada. First Nations laws have been recognized by the Supreme Court, however recent lower court decisions have sent contradictory signals about the relationship between Euro-Canadian laws and First Nations laws. This lack of clarity has led to a patchwork of inconsistent decisions.


July 2, 2020


Court Challenges

Supreme Court: Trans Mountain Pipeline appeal

BIV – Business in Vancouver – The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal of the federal government’s approval of the $12.6 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which is already under construction. The Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations and Coldwater Indian Band had appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada to hear an appeal of an earlier Federal Court of Appeal ruling, which had dismissed an appeal of the project’s approval. First Nations argued that proper consultations had not occurred.

Today’s ruling means First Nations have exhausted all legal avenues to halt the project on the basis of inadequate consultation, although that doesn’t mean the First Nations involved have abandoned all hope of some other legal challenge. “We’re not deterred and are exploring all legal options,” said Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson. “What I can tell you today is that this not the end of the story.”

Over a period of months, the federal government held additional consultations with First Nations and again approved the expansion. First Nations appealed the decision and lost when the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed their appeal in February 2020. That decision underscored the point that senior governments have a duty to properly consult First Nations, but that that duty has its limits and does not confer upon First Nations veto powers over projects in their traditional claimed territories to which they object. “While the parties challenging cabinet’s decision are fully entitled to oppose the Project, reconciliation and the duty to consult do not provide them with a veto over projects such as this one,” the Federal Court of Appeal wrote in its February decision.

https://biv.com/article/2020/07/supreme-court-wont-hear-appeal-tmx-decision


January 26, 2021


Legislative Issues

Women’s Shelters in Iuit Nunangat

Indigenous Services Canada – Commit to fund the construction and operations of shelters for Inuit women and children across Inuit Nunangat as well as in urban centres. Funding for the new shelters will be part of the $724.1 million for a comprehensive Violence Prevention Strategy as announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement. The government will continue to work with Pauktuutit and other Inuit partners to determine the locations and define the details of the projects to best meet the needs of women and families seeking shelter.


September 14, 2020


Legislative Issues

Women’s Shelters in Iuit Nunangat

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada – Inuit communities are not eligible to access funding for shelters through the federal government’s Family Violence Prevention Program for Indigenous women, children and families. In its recent pre-budget submission to the Standing Committee on Finance (now paused due to the prorogation of Parliament), Pauktuutit reiterated its shelter ask as an urgent priority, along with the following two recommendations:

  1. That the federal government financially support the implementation of Pauktuutit’s 15 policing recommendations aimed at improving the safety and security of Inuit women (as per the January 2020 report Addressing Gendered Violence Against Inuit Women: A review of police policies and practices in Inuit Nunangat);
    http://www.pauktuutit.ca/wp-content/uploads/Pauktuutit_Addressing-Gendered-Violence_English_Full-Report-1.pdf
  2. That the federal government financially support the creation and delivery of programming aimed at improving the well-being and safety of Inuit women and children living in urban centres throughout Canada, including increasing access to affordable housing and skills training opportunities.

June 2, 2020


Legislative Issues

Women’s Shelters in Iuit Nunangat

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada – Historically, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs has only had authority to provide funding for shelters on First Nations reserves, resulting in a glaring policy and program gap for vulnerable Inuit women and children. Inuit women face violence at a rate 14 times greater than other women in Canada. Of the 51 communities in Inuit Nunangat, 37 of them (73%) do not have safe places for Inuit women and girls fleeing violence.