Compassion and reform, not walls, will halt the flood of refugees

The only way to stop people from fleeing their countries is to hold their governments' culpable for their citizen's suffering

Compassion and reform, not walls, will halt the flood of refugeesEven when boundaries define arbitrary lines between territories, they embody deeper symbolic, cultural, historical and religious meaning that’s often contested for legitimacy. Our belief that borders are indisputable has at times led to remarkable efforts to establish permanent barriers as statements of sovereignty and against foreign intrusion. The Great Wall of China, built for defence…

Trump’s impeachment trial was a perversion of justice

These absurdities don't fit any legitimate expectation of a legal proceeding, let alone a trial of the most powerful person on the planet

Trump’s impeachment trial was a perversion of justiceSince judges exist for the essential goal of delivering justice to fellow citizens, a vigorous ethical commitment should be a key part of their professional code. Spanish moral philosopher Adela Cortina notes that corruption is encouraged by the weakening of the internal good. The world had front-row seats to the judicial proceedings in the second…

Troubling trends for human rights in China and India

Genocide is the outcome of nationalistic, populist movements that tolerate hate speech and discrimination and incite violence

Troubling trends for human rights in China and IndiaIf left unaddressed, the rising extremism and persecutions in China and India will undermine the well-being of millions of people. These acts will also set a precedent the international community will regret for generations, both in terms of the human cost and the undermining of many gains made in human rights over the past several…

We’re too quick to condemn policing and its officers

We’re too quick to condemn policing and its officersThere has been a tremendous scrutiny and criticism of policing in recent months. Policing has been the lightning rod for widespread protests. The scrutiny has provided a window into the failings of policing, specifically the systemic processes and structures that have sustained marginalization. It has also highlighted the incompetence and misconduct of a few, which…

The war on drugs is costly and off-target

A report on drug abuse released by police chiefs is less about reducing drug abuse and more about protecting police budgets and jobs

The war on drugs is costly and off-targetThe Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) recently released a 14-page report on the decriminalization of drugs. The report points to a large body of evidence illustrating the efficacy of safe consumption sites in achieving a number of health and social objectives. That’s especially true when clients are offered access to integrated health and…

The ugly truth about democracy in decay

Perhaps it’s not democracy that has been corrupted, nor the democratic process, but rather the electorate itself

The ugly truth about democracy in decayIf the majority of the electorate is not already disillusioned and alienated by the extreme partisanship of politics, the upcoming United States elections will likely push another generation of voters into the void of disillusionment, apathy and abdication of franchise. The U.S. is the so-called beacon of democracy. Yet the two political extremes have become…

Race-based police data won’t end systemic issues

Examining use of force by race or counting arrests and charges by colour isn’t about to change police culture

Race-based police data won’t end systemic issuesAfter years of resisting the recording of race-based statistics by police, there has been a sudden change of heart. Now, advocates and those seeking police reform want race-based data collected by police. In Ontario, the authorities hope that by collecting officers’ perceptions of suspects it can expose any racial biases or stereotyping within police services. The…

Police failures begin with bad leadership

Policing, despite its facade of altruism and professionalism, remains incredibly insular, self-promoting and conservative

Police failures begin with bad leadershipDespite several decades of celebrating community policing, certain communities have been over-policed, discriminated against and abused by systemic inequalities. The inequalities loudly and persistently decried are proven by the statistical realities of arrest and incarceration rates, and by the video evidence of victims of policing bias. Countries like Canada, Australia, Britain, France and the United…

Bad leadership at the heart of police brutality

There’s no place for cowards, racists, sociopaths or murderers in a police department. And yet such officers are detected with alarming regularity

Bad leadership at the heart of police brutalityThe wave of protests across the United States in response to the death of George Floyd follows a lengthy list of protests against police misconduct. The list of misconduct includes: Rodney King, beaten by police on a freeway after a high-speed chase in Los Angeles (1991); Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant sodomized in a New…

Abject failure in U.S., India in face of COVID-19 crisis

India has failed its citizens, especially the vulnerable. The U.S. has hobbled from one makeshift policy fiasco to another

Abject failure in U.S., India in face of COVID-19 crisisThe largest democracy and the most powerful nation in the world have both been left disrobed of their pageantry and power by COVID-19, shamefully failing their citizens and revealing their disintegrating moral façade. It’s said that the measure of a person is not what they do when things are going well, but rather how they…

We need closer oversight on high-tech police practices

Understanding and safeguarding personal freedom and civil rights is more critical than ever. So who is policing the police?

We need closer oversight on high-tech police practicesPolicing is the only authority sanctioned to use force against its citizens. So democratic systems institute safeguards to ensure police impartiality and accountability, often with multiple and overlapping oversight. But who’s keeping an eye on the growing use of technology in policing? The police services board is one prevalent form of oversight responsible for ensuring…

Can Canada lead a global push to eradicate poverty?

First we need to deal with our own problems, starting with the huge inequities among our Indigenous peoples

Can Canada lead a global push to eradicate poverty?Despite our best efforts towards eliminating poverty and inequality, large segments of society remain left behind. Problems seem to outpace rhetoric. Worse, governments face huge challenges in meeting their obligations and commitments. We face two tragedies: our domestic challenge with poverty and inequality, and the estimated 828 million people globally living in slums (expected to…

Bring back the Alberta Provincial Police

Bring back the Alberta Provincial PoliceAlberta Premier Jason Kenney recently raised the possibility of implementing a provincial police service. “We will invite the panel to explore the feasibility of establishing an Alberta provincial police force by ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement with the government of Canada,” he said. That statement was followed by an announcement by Justice Minister Doug…

Crime rises along with police budgets, yet cities are no safer

Toronto is a perfect example of a municipal system out of touch with effective policing. More money and new processes don't result in less crime

Crime rises along with police budgets, yet cities are no saferPolice services are once again hard at work preparing annual budget submissions for the next fiscal year. The cost of policing continues to mount year after year, and the justifications seem to repeat year to year as well. The budget for Canada’s largest municipal police force, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) now exceeds $1.2 billion,…

Epidemic of illegal firearms overwhelms Canadian cities

Corrections institutions are merely holding facilities with few effective rehabilitative programs. They must have programs for safe, effective reintegration

Epidemic of illegal firearms overwhelms Canadian citiesAn analysis by the CBC covering two decades of homicide statistics for Winnipeg reveals a major shift in the types of weapons used. It’s happening across the country. Winnipeg had 44 homicides in 2019, more than in any other previous 10-year period. Police seized 1,771 guns in 2018, up from 1,195 in 2017 and 825…

We can’t just throw money at crime prevention

We need to to treat the crisis of a growing prison population as a public health challenge rather than the narrower response being advocated

We can’t just throw money at crime preventionWinnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth has a typical challenge on his hands: crime is up, resources are stretched and more money is needed. Behind the scenes, he must also be seen as preserving the interests of his officers and the police association. The Winnipeg Police Board and municipal politicians have their perpetual challenges: be perceived…

We must fight crime at its social roots

The rash of liquor store robberies in Winnipeg says more about underlying social problems than it does about the effectiveness of police

We must fight crime at its social rootsWinnipeg has experienced a rash of liquor store swarmings involving masked individuals who have become increasingly accustomed to little or no resistance. The best deterrent to crime is not the severity of sentence or punishment, but the certainty of detection and apprehension. An even better and common-sense response would be to mitigate the underlying precursors…

Humanity faces a huge and growing crisis

The number of displaced, marginalized and impoverished people continues to grow. How we handle this will determine mankind’s future

Humanity faces a huge and growing crisisAt any given time, there are about 20 million people on the move in the world. When there’s war, terrorism, extreme weather events or other disruptions, this can grow to 80 million people trying to get to safety. We hear of illegal immigrants crossing borders and thousands of people walking north through Central America to…

In search of truth in the face of political lies

These untruths reflect badly on candidates, and much more on the ability of the electorate to make thoughtful and informed decisions

In search of truth in the face of political liesWe live in a society of law and order, of values and mission statements, oversight, accountability, and in which transparency is highly valued. Witnesses at judicial hearings are held in contempt if they lie, individuals who knowingly make false and harmful statements can be held libellous, advertisers can’t lie about their products, students can’t cheat…

The war on drugs must be fought at addiction’s social roots

The answer to addiction will not be found in the industries of incarceration and prescription

The war on drugs must be fought at addiction’s social rootsOn Oct. 21, pharmaceutical opioid distributors McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, and drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to a US$260-million settlement just hours before opening arguments were scheduled to begin in the first opioid-era federal lawsuit in Ohio. This is the first of hundreds of similar lawsuits filed by cities, counties, Native American tribes…

Don’t blame the oil industry for our consumer excesses

Assigning the blame too narrowly is neither a fair nor effective strategy

Don’t blame the oil industry for our consumer excessesFor an increasing number of young people, governments no longer seem to have the answer to many of the fundamental challenges of the 21st century. Climate change is at the forefront. As politics becomes increasing tribal, intolerance is entrenched and good governance is weakened. Very few systems are designed to address global concerns, promoting regional…

Moral indignation needs some perspective

We’re behaving as though absolutely nothing we do today will cause future generations to look back at us as backward, insensitive and brutish

Moral indignation needs some perspectiveThere’s a certain myopic moral indignation in the criticism of prominent public figures for having painted their faces, dressed inappropriately, or said or done things in the past that we find offensive today. It’s understandable, for example, that many are offended and disappointed in the conduct of Justin Trudeau. These feelings are justified and important.…

There’s no simple solution to minimizing violent crime

Community policing, rehabilitation strategies and reintegration programs for offenders must all be part of the move to reduce violent crime

There’s no simple solution to minimizing violent crimeToronto had a bad year with 308 shootings and 79 homicides in 2018. In Chicago, a similarly-sized city, there were 2,388 shootings and 565 murders. Baltimore, again about the same size, recorded 309 homicides in 2018. Politicians, media and citizens in all three cities are increasingly shocked about increases in violent crime and diminishing public…

Can we bring our disaffected youth back into the fold?

Cynicism and class divisions are leading to cultural insecurity, reducing tolerance and compassion. Something must change

Can we bring our disaffected youth back into the fold?The international landscape is in unprecedented flux, challenging assumptions of social, political and economic progress for youth everywhere. Globalization, technological advances, demographic pressures from global migration, sectarian and ideological conflicts, and economic disparities have all affected the cohesiveness of societies. Shifting unemployment patterns and doubts about the sustainability of social security systems and the environment…

How do new Canadians see Indigenous issues?

It’s a mistake to assume that recent immigrants to Canada, who make up 20% of our population, will easily understand and embrace the Indigenous, who make up 4.3%

How do new Canadians see Indigenous issues?Two powerful, painful and potentially course-changing reports on the Indigenous should impact how Canadians view our past and present, and how we chart our future. But much work remains. Most recently, there’s been much reflection, assessment and discussion on the report from the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). It’s…

Beyond carding: how police surveillance has dangerously evolved

The end of carding won’t cease the gathering of information. Instead, it will be entered into police data bases without the public’s knowledge

Beyond carding: how police surveillance has dangerously evolvedWe’re in the era of predictive policing, geo-profiling and crime prevention – carding 2.0 – and need to ask the tough questions about what that means. Understanding and safeguarding personal freedom and civil rights is more critical than ever. The pace at which artificial intelligence is being developed and incorporated is far outpacing the regulatory…