Justice (25-42): Current Problems

NL


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/


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.


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.”


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/


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