Showing posts from 2017

Public Inquiry Needed to Address Sexualized Violence in Policing and Corrections System

*Originally published in Lawyer's Daily on November 6, 2017 (edited to include links) The integrity of Canada’s policing and corrections system has been called into disrepute from the sexualized violence committed by its police and corrections officers against Indigenous women and girls, female prisoners and even their own female colleagues. Recently, officials at Edmonton’s maximum security prison suspended seven employees — including managers — for allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The male guards are now under investigation not only for the sexual harassment and assaults but also for their retaliatory actions against their female colleagues who tried to report the harassment. In some cases, it is alleged that protocols were breached risking the safety and security of the female prison guards including using inmates as weapons of intimidation.

NAFTA 2.0 - Time to Get it Right or Kill It

*Originally published in Lawyer's Daily on October 10, 2017 There is a long list of items that U.S. President Donald Trump has put on his “to kill” list, including Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, the Department of Education, immigration and most recently, NAFTA. Trump called the North American Free Trade Agreement the “worst trade deal ever made” in U.S. history and indicated he may have to kill the deal. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, on the other hand, are scrambling to renegotiate with Trump in order to save NAFTA. But why the mad rush to feverishly save NAFTA? It’s not like it has widespread support among the people of those three countries and I am sure if the planet had a vote — it would be a resounding no. So what’s the big deal about NAFTA? NAFTA is a legal agreement that came into effect on Jan. 1, 1994, to eliminate most of the tariffs on trade between the three signatory countries with the intention of encour

Canada's Ongoing Racial Discrimination Against Indigenous Women and Children Discussed at United Nations

                         (Photo by NWAC of ONWA, CAEFS, myself and NWAC at UN) On August 14th and 15th, 2017, Canada appeared before the United Nations (UN) Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to account for its efforts to eliminate racial discrimination in Canada. As part of this process, Indigenous groups and non-government organizations (often referred to by the UN as "civil society") are permitted to submit "shadow reports" on Canada's racial discrimination record. These reports do not form part of Canada's official report to the UN, but UN committees, like CERD, use these shadow reports to get a more informed picture of what is happening in Canada. CERD is a treaty body which meets to review state parties progress or lack thereof under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This Convention was passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1965 and came into force in 1969. Canada sig

Indigenous Inquiry [into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls] a Slow Motion Implosion

*(Originally published in the Lawyer's Daily on August 8, 2017- edited) When the draft terms of reference of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls were leaked to the media in the summer of 2016, many families, advocates, experts and communities were upset that there would be no investigation of the police — either their mishandling of individual files or their behaviour. This omission was a shock to most since police racism and abuse was raised at every pre-engagement session conducted by Indigenous Affairs seeking input into the inquiry’s mandate. Families and advocates immediately responded by writing open letters calling on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to ensure that police handling of individual files and police behaviour would be included in the final terms of reference. Despite their strenuous advocacy, the final terms of reference specifically excluded any review of individual files or police conduct. Si

Why is Trudeau Government Opposing Charter Equality for Indigenous Women?

(Originally published in Lawyer's Daily on June 21, 2017 - edited) Shortly after Confederation, the federal government used its jurisdictional powers over “Indians and lands reserved for the Indians” in s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act 1867 , to enact the Indian Act, 1876 — making it nearly as old as “Canada” itself. For well over a hundred years, the Indian Act has included provisions intended to legislate Indians out of existence — a form of forced assimilation — that primarily targeted Indigenous women and their descendants for enfranchisement (loss of status as an “Indian” and removal from the reserve as a member). Although there have been many amendments to the act over the years, the federal government, through the Indian Registrar, retains exclusive authority over the legal criteria for determining who is an Indian. Unfortunately, self-declared feminist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s elite feminist team of ministers is actively working against gender equality amend

Bill S-3 Amendments to the Indian Act and the Never-Ending Battle for Equality for Indigenous Women

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN) is currently studying Bill S-3 An Act to Amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities ). As its title suggests, this bill should eliminate the remaining gender discrimination contained within the Indian Act’s registration and membership provisions – but it does not. The Indian Act’s registration provisions are already a complex mess of rules intended to legislate Indians out of existence – and the government’s version of the bill does not make it any better. However, the Senate heard from First Nations, Indigenous and women’s advocacy organizations, Indigenous women, and legal experts during their initial study of the bill and agreed with the consensus opinion that the government’s bill falls short of eliminating gender discrimination. They introduced an amendment that addresses the bulk of the remaining discrimination – only to find the gov

Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Fatally Flawed

(Originally published in Lawyer's Daily on May 15, 2017) It looks like those who advocated for the long-awaited national inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women and girls will be waiting a little while longer. Despite the promise from Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the national inquiry would be his first order of business, it has been 19 months since his election and the inquiry hasn’t held a single day of hearings. Although the commissioners held two soft launches in September 2016 and February 2017 promising to launch the hearings soon, the inquiry has not started, nor will they hear from the families until fall 2017. Given that the commissioners were given exceptionally limited time to conduct the inquiry, the fact that they have already used up nine of the 26 months allocated to them is a major concern. At this point, the commissioners have very little to show for either the time used or the money spent to date — more than 10 per cent of its