This Blog will discuss politics, government, corruption, police, S.I.U., courts, education, min. of attorney general, min. of labour, v.o.i.c.e. and other current and past events of interest to concerned citizens. In the "About me" section to the right and down I have included the names of persons whom I have tremendous respect for. Their influence on me however has been primarily environmental (and personal) and this is therefore a disclaimer that all words posted on this Blog/Website are mine and I alone am responsible for them. I say this with the greatest respect and affection to my friends.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Guard made deal to keep silent about Smith death". Firstly guard Blaine Phibbs was charged with criminal negligence in the death of Ashley Smith. Correctional Service Canada then failed to to turn over documents to the Crown, resulting in them dropping the criminal charges against him. Makes you kind of wonder what was in the documents that Corrections Canada would fail to hand them over. Perhaps exculpatory evidence that reinforces the guards version of events does come to mind. Then things get even weirder. He had been fired by Corrections Canada after being criminally charged then when the charges were dropped they made him a deal. Using taxpayer money of course "Corrections paid him time and a half or double time for the thousands of hours he had been off work in the 18 months after the death. He also received $25,000 to go back to school and career counselling." That is outrageous and could certainly be interpreted as a bribe especially as he had to agree never to tell anyone what had happened. I guess a coroner's inquest trumps private sweetheart deals.
Mr. Phibbs also testified that he had personally cut at least 50 ligatures from Smith's neck during her stay at the prison. He further estimated that her face had turned blue on about half of those occasions. Originally management praised him for saving Smith but then orders changed as management decided that removing ligatures before she had stopped breathing would only encourage her. Whether they actually had any medical or psychological expertise behind these new orders has not been determined yet. Looking at the entire picture we've seen so far I'm willing to bet they were flying by the seat of their pants. The appearance I'm seeing is an arms length management locked into a contest of wills with a mentally ill teenager. Good for management as they "won" the battle of wills and Ashley Smith is dead. They seem to have forgotten that their responsibility includes keeping inmates alive.
Monday, January 28, 2013
Is there a whiff of hypocrisy in Justice Jeanine LeRoy's comment regarding the "disrepute Const. Robson brought to Waterloo Regional Police..."? Why do I feel that our police management could have handled this case and this officer's problems so much better than by using entrapment to lay a criminal charge on him? Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Local police officer gets house arrest". It seems to me that clearly this officer was in serious distress and needed intervention but what I've taken away from this process is that police management didn't like him, wanted him off the force and knew that an entrapment sting might suceed. I wonder what their next step would have been if their sting had failed? I'm not so sure that the regional police brass aren't the ones bringing disrepute to the force.
The criminal conviction versus conditional discharge will make it much easier for Waterloo Regional Police to dismiss Const. Robson. Clearly from the original deal offerred him, to resign in exchange for dropping criminal charges; it's pretty clear the charges were merely a means to an end. This is to the shame of our judicial system, not Const. Robson.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Guard rebuked after aiding Smith". Now we are starting to get to the meat of the matter more than five years too late for Ashley Smith. Unamed "management" rebuked and threatened jail guards for aiding Ashley Smith, allegedly perematurely. After one incident in which a guard removed a ligature from Ashley Smith's neck, the guard was told "You are not a psychologist, you are not a warden. This is my institution, I will run it as I see fit,".
It is high time that the senior managers and bureaucrats who did or did not follow procedures which allowed a mentally ill inmate to choke herself to death be named and be held accountable. One of the guards at the scene was initially charged with criminal negligence but from testimony to date he had long been asking permission to remove multiple ligatures sooner rather than later. In response he was threatened with both administrative discipline and even possibly criminal assault charges if he removed ligatures "prematurely". The idiots in charge and making these ultimately fatal decisions are long overdue for justice. Perhaps the rot mermeates the system and is beyond tinkering and bandaid solutions.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys a story/opinion piece from the lead singer for Blood, Sweat and Tears namely David Clayton-Thomas. It is a stinging indictment of Canada's judicial system based upon his personal experiences. The title is "Let's not fail Ashley Smith again". Apparently Mr. Clayton-Thomas was from a dysfunctional family and early on, out of desperation, got into trouble with the law. His experiences were very nasty and his disgust and contempt for our jails and justice system obvious. Clearly what are needed are more people speaking out after they.ve been through the system. Especially those who have survived and gone on to be productive members of society, will be credible and informed spokespersons about a system that is clearly unaccountable, unproductive and literally destroys lives. This is a very strong indictment of our Canadian penal and judicial system and to date the public have not been paying attention. Perhaps this coroner's inquest will change that. Perhaps not.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record advises us in their story "Child-welfare agency audited" that the audit is not a strictly financial one. A ministry (children and youth services) spokesperson stated "...the local agency was selected for the review because "service and financial data, expenditure and service themes were identified that were not in line with societies that serve similar communities in Ontario."".
This audit is to take two weeks and involves budgets, policies and procedures. Apparently there will be interviews with staff and families serviced by Family & Children's Services. I'm curious as to who picks the families to be interviewed. I'm also curious as to what executive director Allison Scott means when she refers to "referrals" to her agency. Are these third party, anonymous or otherwise, referrals or are they families voluntarily approaching FCS for help. Finally I'm also a little bit curious abut the dichotomy between Allison Scott's characterization of this provincial audit versus what both the provincial spokesperson and Record reporter Frances Barrick said it included.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Well I guess this isn't as bad as we've seen so far. Const. Deorah Bourne has been charged under the Police Services Act. In other words thank goodness, these aren't criminal charges. Today's Waterloo Region Record has this story "Officer faces several counts of misconduct". Frankly I don't get it. How come so many officers and when is it going to stop? Also I simply do not understand what exactly is the protocol involved? Who gets charged for things like failing to do their paperwork properly and who doesn't? Are many of these charges as minor as they appear and only used when more significant allegations are involved? "Failing to complete a warrant package required in court..." sounds more serious and yet again are we talking about intentional failures, simple procrastination, bad training or what?
One thing I find interesting is the culture difference that seems apparent between for example teachers and police officers. Often I've heard teachers whining about how police officers get paid more (including overtime) and yet the internal disciplinary processes are night and day. Teachers don't get disciplined. The good ones are just that and the bad ones stumble through their careers making good money with no accountability.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Saturday's Waterloo Region Record has an Opinion piece by Luisa D'Amato titled "Teachers' battle reveals cracks in labour movement". Buzz Hargrove a former leader with the Canadian Auto Workers has suggested that the teachers are losing the public relations battle. Luisa appears to agree citing work stoppages, refusal to do extracurricular activities including sports and field trips. Of course many teachers are really so uninformed about the real world that they are still comparing their pitiful lot to policemen, firemen and believe it or not, NHL hockey players. They seem to think that the public are as ignorant as they when it comes to real world jobs and opportunities. A Kitchener teacher was quoted as saying "Nobody questions the NHL when they negotiate their contracts". Teachers do not have the extreme physical risks that police and firepersons do. Nor do they have the physical abilities and talents of most police and firepersons nor remotely the same physical talents of professional athletes. Why don't they compare themselves to garbage workers, factory workers, or even other civil servants. The answer is simple. They are overpaid and overpriveleged with a huge sense of entitlement fostered by their unions and even their colleagues. Parents, the public and perhaps even some other unions are getting fed up. Finally.
Friday, January 18, 2013
O.K. this posting believe it or not has to do with Cambridge Councillor Donna Reid reneging on a promise made to a fellow Councillor (Cowsill) two years ago. While the incident itself is less than earth shattering; perhaps the attitude of Councillor Reid is not. Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys Luisa D'Amato's Opinion piece titled "Rules shouldn't be bent to suit whims of one councillor". Luisa's opinion makes numerous references to three year olds' behaviour and logic and it's all aimed at Councillor Reid. I tend to strongly agree with Luisa and I might add as do the vast majority of commenters on this matter on the Cambridge Advocate website. Before going further though I should add that I'm not totally unbiased in this matter. I noted with concern and shock two years ago when Councillor Reid was elected to Cambridge Council. I had only met her from a distance years ago (across a courtroom) and still remember being quite nonplussed by her apparent rage and anger at folks on my side of the courtroom. I found this both weird and strange as I was positive I'd never seen her in my life before. Later on that day I was advised that she was the head of one of the teachers' unions and was there in support of a teacher. While I could understand that it was her job to support a member, what I still to this day did not understand was her quite obvious incredibly strong emotional and evisceral attitude towards persons she knew nothing about. It was totally unprofessional and immature and quite frankly did nothing to advance any attempt to pretend objectivity, sincerity or honesty. Whatever bias I have just admitted to, hers was a thousand times greater.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Well at long last the media and others seem to have the proper focus. Today's Waterloo Region Record has an entire page (A3) devoted to First Nations and environmentalists protests that occurred yesterday, across Canada. The Record has two articles on page A3 namely "First Nations and their supporters hold Canada-wide rallies against Ottawa's land claim and environmental policies" and secondly "Idle No More and chiefs find common ground in environment". When the media were focused solely on Chief Spence, Attawapiskat and alleged financial mismanagement; it was too easy for the big message to get lost.
Apparently the protests are against two Conservative Omnibus Bills namely last year's Bill C-38 passed in June and Bill C-45 passed in December. For those who have criticized the protests by various native groups; I would suggest that they are carrying the load in shining a light upon the Conservatives anti democratic Omnibus Bills and their intention to reduce environmental oversight and protection of our environment. Between the two the Environmental Assessment Act, the Navigble Waters Act, the Fisheries Act and the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act have all been weakened to permit faster resource development as well as mining and energy projects to proceed with less oversight. Many of these changes are contrary to treaties that have been signed between the federal government and aboriginal groups over the decades.
Our federal government since obtaining a majority have characterized their relationship with Parliament as one of minimal attention. I believe it takes national protests as is now happening to get the Conservatives to realize how much opposition there really is to their agenda. If they are wise they will pay attention. If not they may have achieved their last majority government.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I commend the Waterloo Region Record for their ongoing detailed coverage of the Ashley Smith coroner's inquest. Reporter Rosie DiManno's story starts on the front page and is titled "Ashley Smith's journal tells tale missing in dry testimony".
The back page (A8) of the first section continues with evidence allegedly describing procedures within women's prisons in Canada. These procedures dealt with things like solitary confinement as well as body cavity searches. There are also policies in regards to tranfers of prisoners from one institution to another. It appears that both the solitary confinement procedures and the transfer procedures were not followed in Ashley Smith's case. Repeated transfers and extended time in solitary confinement exacerbated a deteriorating mental health condition. Certainly Ms. Smith's unyielding and contrary behaviour are understandable considering she was originally sentenced between 30 and 45 days at age 15 and yet was still in prison at age 19. I have often wondered if her unrepentant, aggressive behaviour was taken personally by so called professionals within the system. Could her attitude have personally offended individuals who then used their authority to try and break Ashley Smith's will? If this was the case then those individuals who would abuse their authority, have no place within our correctional system.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Long-delayed inquest "best memorial" to teen". Was it the ductape, the facehood or the forced drug injections which were the most gruesome and grotesque? Many things since the day over five years ago when prison guards, under orders, stood by and watched a teenager slowly choke to death have been repugnant in this case. Since Ashley Smith's death and despite the best efforts of Corrections Canada and our federal government; even more has been revealed about the barbaric, inhumane and just plain stupid treatment of Ashley Smith.
Today's Record clarifys for me the absolute, unaccountable and perverse authority system within our prisons. This was a nineteen year old girl with a history of mental health and psychological problems they were dealing with. Here is how those idiots in charge handled her: "By the time she died, a 45-day sentence had grown to a staggering total of 2,239 days-more than six years.". This is the system of institutional charges. Yes they included spitting at guards but they also included refusing to return a hair brush. Seriously! A fourty-five day sentence by a court and she ended up with a six year plus sentence, much of it spent in solitary confinement. Is it any wonder she was self harming. Is it any wonder she was uncooperative? Is it any wonder she was unreasonable at times? What kind of a country permits these abuses of citizens, especially citizens in distress. The whole world is watching and heads had better roll including criminal charges and not just charges at the bottom of the pole.
Monday, January 14, 2013
More than five years after her death in custody and solely responsible due to her treatment by Corrections Canada; the coroner's inquest is proceeding again. It currently is being streamed live over the Internet and what I heard a few minutes ago was a fairly dry recitation of her institutional charges being read out by a witness. Apparently in this third world country called Canada, one's compliance and cooperation with institutional authorities is a greater determinant of one's total time in custody than what the original conviction and sentence was for.
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys the following story "Ashley Smith legal tab a $3.6-million secret". That's correct, you and I and the taxpayers to date have paid $3.6 million essentially for the purpose of assisting our authorities to continue delaying and covering up. This is and always has been the essential elephant in the room regarding politics at all levels. The very same dishonest, immoral and undemocratic decisions made by our politicians are routinely covered up at the direct expense of the public. We not only pay for their salaries, benefits and perks but we pay to defend them when they screw up including intentionaly, with or without malice involved.
Today's article points the finger at Corrections Canada, federal Public Safety and the RCMP in regards to the legal funds spent to limit, delay and distract this inquest. Make no mistake this is our federal government exercising their muscle and influence to ensure that the negligent death of a nineteen year old girl does not impact on any of the guilty parties. Especially they wouldn't want it to impact upon themselves, their policy , their credibility or their future ability to get votes. For politicians of a certain ilk, Ashley Smith is no more than collateral damage in their ongoing power games. Shame on the lot of them. Best wishes to the family although I expect they will never see justice done towards their child.
Four days ago (Jan.9/13) the Waterloo Region Record carried the tiniest little update regarding the now infamous "kettling" of mass numbers of honest citizens going about their business in downtown Toronto, two and half years ago. The title of the Record update was "Senior officer's trial delayed in G20 "kettling" incidents". Supt. Mark Fenton faces five charges related to the police boxing in and arresting hundreds of downtown shoppers and tourists during the G20 conference. This behaviour would be shocking in a third world dictatorship but in Canada it should be nothing but front page news and the lack of media detailed coverage to date has been shocking. Are we as Canadians becoming so inured to the assaults upon our civil liberties?
Friday, January 11, 2013
Whether it's teachers, city workers, police, provincial or federal employees; the public have had quite enough. The calibre and quality of each of these groups merely reflects the calibre and quality of private sector employees. Some are good, some are great and unfortunately some are unreliable, lazy bums. One of the big differences however is the difficulty in getting rid of the bad apples in public sector circles. The other difference is that rarely if ever do public service employees get laid off. At one time this was all reflected in the modest wages of public servants. Those days have been gone for decades. Now it's top notch wages, top notch benefits and top notch pensions for public employees. This is all at a time when private sector employees are losing both benefits and decent pensions . Wages have also stagnated.
Today's Waterloo Region Record has this story "Police wages rise 86 per cent early in career". Now if they were making minimum wage to start that wouldn't be so shocking. Instead they are starting at $44,000 per annum and within three to five years at $82,000 as a first class constable in Waterloo Region. This week our regional government approved a $135 million police budget. 85% of that is for wages and benefits. Regional Councillor Tom Galloway "...acknowledged that the police budget is a challenge. "We can't sustain it on a forever basis,".".
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Luisa D'Amato has clearly lost patience with Ontario teachers' self-centred ways. Today's Waterloo Region Record has her Opinion piece titled "Teachers' protest will be an illegal strike". Luisa is also pointing out that our so called educators of children are teaching more by their bad behaviour than they ever can with words. Lesson One is that you don't have to obey laws you don't like as long as there are enough of you to get away with it. Personally I've long scoffed at the irony of the biggest bullies on the block, namely the school boards and their unions, pretending to have a zero tolerance for school bullying.
Luisa has a major point. From this point on it's all about being self-centred jerks who think that they are more entitled than 90% of the rest of the population. If you don't like either the Liberals or Bill 115 then take it out on them; not on parents and children. While I thought that Ronald Reagan's mass firing of U.S. air traffic controllers was nuts; I'm beginning to think that our provincial government needs some serious backbone stiffening. Do not let the teachers' unions get away with any illegal strikes. Whatever legal options are available from fines to union leaders spending a weekend in jail; would probably go down well with the rest of us taxpayers.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys Luisa D'Amato's Opinion piece titled "Blunders with federal funds for Attawapiskat troubling". Luisa's first two sentences more or less capture the tone of the rest of her article namely "If I were Theresa Spence, I'd be hanging my head in shame. Or hiding under my bed.". Isn't it amazing how essentially the same information can elicit hugely different responses and interpretations? I've long been quite an admirer of Luisa's writing but every now and then I disagree with her substantially. Obviously if you read my posting of yesterday you will see how I focused on our nasty, incompetent Conservative government not taking charge and demanding proper documentation before continuing to send more money. Luisa has focused on Chief Spence.
I do believe that overall Luisa is sympathetic to injustices and circumstances surrounding our aboriginal peoples. Luisa however feels that Chief Spence has done them no favours with her financial accounting/mismanagement?. Personally I'm still waiting to hear if there has been any embezzlement, fraud or even gross wastage of funds. A lack of accounting skills or ability/willingness to submit documentation is not the same as the aforementioned illegal activities. As I said yesterday, if there has been illegal behaviour then lay charges and take it to court. If there hasn't been then it's all back on the feds for their failure to oversee and supervise.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Chief decries audit as a "distraction". The Audit which was written by Deloitte-Touche basically states that there has been a lack of proper documentation relating to spending on the reserve. Interestingly "The audit details an abesence of accounting by the band council and ongoing indifference by federal government departments.". That certainly to me doesn't leave our federal government with clean hands in this whole scenario. Furthermore "The Deloitte audit...catalogues more than $109 million in spending over almost seven years, much of it poorly documented, undocumented, or questionable.".
So if I fully understand this, Prime Minister Harper has released a document completed last summer showing that improper accounting and documentation of millions of dollars of funds to a single reserve has been ongoing for seven years. YET THEY KEPT SENDING MORE MONEY! So just whom exactly are the bad guys here? Our government for neglect and incompetence or a band of natives for saying thank you, spending the money and not documenting their spending properly? Furthermore as serious as this may well be; is it directly relevant to the Idle No More movement and government inaction on past treaties as well as government action on their Omnibus Bill C-45? Is this as Chief Spence has indicated merely a distraction away from the larger issues?
Most intelligent governments learned long ago that shooting of citizens and protesters is bad politics. Even the Chinese government given the opportunity might come up with a better plan next time rather than duplicating the massacre at Tiannemon Square in China. Bribery usually works as does delay. Lying is an art form long perfected by governments world wide of every political stripe. Character assassination, manipulation, false testimony are all tried and true methods for governments wishing to avoid real action. Once in a very long while people get fed up with their lying leaders. Personally I can't imagine spending Christmas in a tent living on soup and liquids. Has Chief Spence and others enjoyed living well prior to this latest escalation of tensions between government and our native population. Probably and yet she is living in a tent, in the winter, in Ottawa. I think my vote has to go to her not Harper and the Conservatives. If there has been any kind of malfeasance regarding funds sent to the band then lay charges and see where it goes. If there hasn't been then our government needs to quit screwing around and honestly address the issues raised.
Monday, January 7, 2013
O.K. I'm having some trouble with this one. A B.C. judge has ruled that the three year mandatory sentence for firearm possession is unconstituional. Apparently it contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. O.K. as I definitely view my perspectives as left of centre that would mean that I necessarily support the Charter unconditionally. Well maybe. There are all kinds of issues here that I find confusing. The individual involved had no criminal record, was gainfully employed but was caught entering a restaurant with a loaded gun in a bag. The newspaper article in Saturday's Waterloo Region Record titled "Prison sentence law violates charter" doesn't clarify what on earth he was doing/intended to do etc..
To further complicate things for me is the following quote from the article "This breech is caused by the arbitrary gap between the maximum sentence of one year in summary proceedings and the minimum three year sentence when proceeding by indictment.". Further we are advised that "Summary offences are generally less serious, while indictable offences are considered more serious...". What the hell: the same charge of possession of a loaded firearm can proceed via two different methods with two different sentencing outcomes? Now that is seriously ridiculous!
On the one hand I shudder when I hear of disparate sentences from different judges for identical criminal charges but on the other hand there can be legitmate reasons involved. If a judge is sentencing an individual with a long violent history possibly including firearms then society clearly needs protection from that individual. Conversely if an individual with no history of violence and no criminal record is found with a loaded gun should they automatically receive a three year sentence without some investigation as to what occurred? Did they literally pick it up off the ground five minutes earlier? Did a naughty but loved blood relative hand the gun off to them in desperation and the "good" relative was then on his way to the police station or the nearest landfill/dumpster etc.. to get rid of it? Had the up to this point, on the straight and narrow individual, just received a death threat to himself or a loved one? While a number of these scenarios could readily be interpreted as making a bad decision; that alone should not be a one way ticket to jail for three years.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Ban eased on export of weapons to Columbia". Yes that's right, Columbia. "Canada recently completed a controversial free trade deal with Columbia, which has been plagued by a half century-long guerilla insurgency, serious human rights abuses and its emergence as a world leading cocaine producer.".
By the way these weapons include fully automatic assault rifles which are illegal in Canada but apparently just dandy in Columbia. Perhaps this will help increase employment in Kitchener where we have a Colt factory manufacturing firearms. I guess what bothers me the most is that it is governments, both Canadian and American who pretend to take the high moral ground on gun issues including school shootings when in reality they are well tied into the further proliferation of them. Proliferation I might add that has nothing to do with hunting or target shooting in Columbia. Whether these guns end up in the hands of the government or the rebels, clearly they are being sold by companies in Canada, with Canadian approval, for the purpose of shooting human beings. Just like mass murders; there is absolutely no comparison between any individual mass murderer and government sanctioned genocide, ethnic cleansing and killing of their own citizens for political purposes. Hypocrisy thy name is government.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
There have been two articles recently in the Waterloo Region Record namely today and last Friday (28th) . Last Friday's is titled "Inquest into troubled teen Ashley Smith's cell death slated to begin in January". Today's story is titled "Smith inquest to hear from out-of-province doctors".
Quoting family lawyer Julian Falconer "Coralee Smith (Ashley's mother) was told that when her daughter went into the federal system, she would find supports and help that wasn't available anywhere else". Also Mr. Falconer stated "The family feels utterly betrayed by Correctional Services.". After viewing the videos and hearing evidence regarding her daughter's last year in solitary confinement, it's not surprising the family feels betrayed. All Canadians should feel betrayed by the idiots in charge of our children, in their custody. All Canadians should feel betrayed by a legal and judicial system that throws ill and confused young teenagers into a penal system that appears to run on eighteenth century principles and thinking. Eleven months in solitary confinement! It would have been more humane to put a bullet into her head. Standing by under orders or not and watching her slowly choke to death is criminal, plain and simple. Ordering guards not to intervene when an inmate's life is in danger is criminal. Let's see how many of these people actually end up going to jail.
Those in charge should have been fired and prosecuted five years ago. The delay has simply been for Canadians revulsion and memory to die down. That is exactly why it's taken this long. The process is controlled by those who don't remotely want justice because they are the guilty ones.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carried this opinion: "Why bus rapid transit, not light rail, is the answer" written by John Shortreed. Mr. Shortreed is a retired
transportation planner from the University of Waterloo. He gives us ten cogent reasons why bus rapid transit is superior to light rail transit.
Above and beyond those I also have had concerns with overly optimistic forecasting by the proponents of LRT. It's very much as if this whole project has developed a momentum of its' own and any negative research gets brushed aside while positive research, no matter how unlikely gets immediate acceptance. Again until or unless I see something different to justify this massive expenditure of funds, I am very much inclined to interpret the push for LRT as simply our regional politicians developing their legacy project. It's not so much about the money for them, it's more about their egos and status.