Month: November 2017

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

C-51

Amid the thousands of women around the world who have come forward to disclose they were victims of sexual assault by powerful men following the more than 50 women who have accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of everything from sexual harassment to outright rape, there exists a small clique of men enabled by anti-feminists who strangely feel they are the real victims in all of this.

It has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada that sexual assaults are vastly underreported and the successful prosecution of these cases is often undermined by entrenched stereotypes and myths. A Globe and Mail investigative report called Unfounded concluded that, of the women complaining of sexual assault to the police, many were disbelieved by the authorities on the flimsiest of grounds and no charges were laid.

As a result of Unfounded, police services across Canada are now taking a closer look at the closed cases.

I was a panelist last Thursday at an event hosted by the University of Toronto Men’s Issues Awareness Society. Yes, there is such a thing. One of my co-panelists was lightweight, loudmouth, self-described “civil rights activist” Diana Davison who revelled in her shtick of propagating the prevalence of men unjustly accused of sexual assault relying on “data” and “lots of stuff out there,” without any reference whatsoever to specific statistics or literature. Don’t let the evidence get in the way of whipping up an already wound-up audience of about 150 mostly angry white men.

The panel was oddly titled “Prosecuting Sexual Assault: Should we hear it all?” I say oddly because it is recognized as a basic rule of evidence that the party seeking to introduce evidence must be prepared to satisfy the court that it is relevant and admissible. That applies to all criminal cases, including sexual assaults. So, the answer to the question is a simple no.

The panel was pitched as a “robust dialogue and debate” surrounding Bill C-51 which imposes a duty on the defence to follow a set procedures in order to use records in the possession of the accused, such as emails and text messages from the complainant, to ensure that they are not improperly used at trial to reinforce sexual stereotypes. Defence counsel, predictably, are in an uproar, dramatically calling it a “catastrophe.”

Opponents of C-51 see it as a knee jerk reaction to the acquittal of Jian Ghomeshi. A closer scrutiny of the emails used by defence counsel and how the trial judge treated them would most likely have been allowed even if C-51 had been law. The emails were used to prove the complainants made inconsistent statements at various times and suggested collusion among them. This is fair game in a criminal trial and will be fair game when C-51 becomes law.

Audience member after audience member lined up at the mic, often to wag their finger at me. It felt like I was in a twilight zone. A female audience member lamented that the need for corroboration was eliminated for sexual assault cases and should be brought back.

In another insistence, I was making the point that sexual stereotypes also exist among the police. Who can forget Michael Sanguinetti, the Toronto police officer’s safety tip to avoid sexual assault at a campus safety information session at Osgoode Law School in 2011: “Don’t dress like a slut.” It caused international uproar and yearly transnational movement of protests worldwide. In response, someone from the audience heckled “yeah, don’t dress like a slut.”

All of which was evidence enough why we need to continue strengthening the rape shield law and how C-51 can’t pass soon enough.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Grits headed for a fall

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa must feel like Rodney Dangerfield’s “I got no respect” line. And rightfully so.

Sousa delivered a shameful, electioneering fall economic statement last week in which he threw half a billion dollars to buy the votes of small business owners by reducing their corporate tax rate one percentage point.

They didn’t buy it. Small business owners gave him a big thumbs down. An owner of a downtown Toronto restaurant smacked down Sousa, saying “I think it shows a total lack of understanding and ignorance about small business. He added: “don’t reduce my taxes,” but improve the “business environment.” Bingo.

Other small business owners also weighed-in, complaining of endless red tape programs of questionable value, sky high hydro rates and a weak provincial rental protection system. Small business owners hit the nail on the head and won’t be fooled by Premier Kathleen Wynne vote-buying schemes, basically telling her to take her money, or rather, our money, and shove it.

You have to wonder what else can Wynne dole out to salvage her damaged reputation between now and the June 7, 2017 election. Already we have free education, discounted hydro, free drugs, a huge increase in the minimum wage and all types of other costly gimmicks to get your mind off 14 years of Liberal government incompetence and maladministration. I wouldn’t underestimate Wynne’s ability to squander our money even more.

While Wynne tells us we’re out of the reds and let the good times roll, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk doesn’t mince words. She accuses the government of playing with the numbers to camouflage the provincial deficit, denouncing the government of “improperly” accounting for $26 billion to make them vanish from the province’s books.

Lysyk adds: “The government created a needlessly complex accounting/financing structure for the electricity rate reduction in order to avoid showing a deficit or an increase in net debt.”

Because Wynne stubbornly disagrees with the person we count on to keep the government’s finances in check, last year she simply ignored the Auditor General’s review and for the first time in Ontario history, simply released the province’s financial statements without the audit opinion – just like a tinpot dictator. Who needs that pesky thing called accountability after all?

Wynne’s popularity has hovered for many months between 12% and 17% with the Ontario population, a feat never achieved by any provincial premier. According to the latest Forum Poll, the Progressive Conservatives are riding high at 45%, while the Liberals and the New Democratic Party are statistically tied at 24% and 22% respectively. It’s fair to say that bribing of the electorate is not working.

It’s no wonder we’ve seen a massive exodus from Liberal MPPs. From cabinet ministers to backbenchers, the ever-growing list of departures past and future continues to swell. Deb Matthews, Liz Sandals, Brad Duguid, Dave Levac, Monte Kwinter, Madeleine Meilleur and Glen Murray. They’ll all have you believe it’s to “spend more time with loved ones,” or some other corny line.

They may not have been the brightest of lights at the best of times, but they’re smart enough to read the tea leaves. Watch for more to flee the sinking ship as the Liberals feel the pressure of a looming election catastrophe.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

New bail rules are politically meddling.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi has issued new micromanaging and politically correct orders to Ontario’s Crown Attorneys. Henceforth, Crowns will be further restricted in opposing bail in criminal cases. It’s a solution looking for a problem.

Overcrowding and abuse of solitary confinement in the Ontario corrections systems are a wide spread problem that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government has closed a blind eye to for the last 14 years.

The problem, and it’s rather a simple one, is that the correctional infrastructure has been sorely neglected. The provincial government hasn’t upgraded the prison system on a wide scale in many years. In Ottawa, for example, a detention centre has been frozen in time since 1971. Prisoners have been found housed in showers for lack of space.

Our creative AG announced a new restrictive bail directive telling Crowns to just loosen up and let more accused of crimes out on the streets. Presto – the inmate overcrowding problem gone. A couple of Crown attorneys were at wits end and called me about Naqvi’s political meddling.

Every Crown attorney, it has long been held, fulfills a kind of minister of the justice role. They are professionals expected to call the shots on serious criminal offences. The notion of winning or losing is not part of the job. They are, according to long standing jurisprudence, only expected to offer a trial in the public interest and to only seek a finding of guilt if the evidence justifies it. They are appointed by the provincial cabinet by order-in-council in order to provide them with the necessary independence to do their job without political interference. Now, it seems, they are being treated like children we can’t trust.

Crowns are buried in red tape like never before. Their ability to exercise discretion has considerably withered away. Naqvi’s new bail directive is a new attack on their independence.

Unfortunately, the situation makes clear that our AG has no experience in criminal courts. It’s ignorance meets naivety. More concerning is that it will expose the public to greater risk from criminal offenders.

Being released on bail, according to the Criminal Code is, for most offences, the norm. If the Crown opposes the release of the accused, the onus is on the Crown to demonstrate that the accused is a flight risk, presents a high risk of committing an offence if released or that the seriousness of the offence combined with a strong Crown case would be shocking to the public.

The new bail directive’s objective is jovially described in Naqvi’s press release as reducing pre-trial custody. The Criminal Code dictates how Crowns should make decisions on whether to oppose bail. And a judicial officer, a Justice of the Peace makes the final decision.

But now Crowns have to contend with platitudinous directives such as “reinforcing that recommendations for conditions of release should be connected to both the circumstances of the accused and the facts of the case, while at the same time, meeting public safety concerns.”

I can assure you that if someone is released on bail according to Naqvi’s new marching orders and commits a heinous crime, Naqvi will be hiding under his comfy desk, while the Crown who agreed to his release will be strung out to dry, second-guessed and humiliated publicly to no end at a coroner’s inquest or other public inquiry. But the one who should really have blood on his hands is Naqvi.

by André Marin André Marin No Comments

Zombie law brain dead

Just when you thought you were safe from former Premier Dalton McGuinty and Premier Kathleen Wynne’s social re-engineering pet projects, comes a liberal MPP’s private member’s bill to ban you from crossing the street while using a cellphone.

McGuinty was so adept at running a nanny state and micro-managing our lives that his hare-brained schemes might have been inspired by the dystopian George Orwell’s 1984 or Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. He successfully got us all to do our laundry and turn our dishwashers and air conditioning at certain times to conserve energy, just like automatons. To help control us, Smart Meters were doled out for free. We obeyed Big Brother so well that our electricity use took a huge dive. Which is partly the reason we’re paying so much for the stuff now. While our usage plummeted, the government recklessly invested in creating an overabundance of supply.

As the Liberal government may be on its last breath, little-known Etobicoke Liberal backbencher Yvan Baker’s tabled a half-baked private member’s bill to “ban pedestrians from crossing the road while holding and using a wireless communications device, electronic entertainment device, or other prescribed device.”

In pure McGuinty-Wynne nanny-state-speak, Baker breathlessly added that “what I am saying is that a component of the problem we face is that some people when they cross the road are distracted. And experts say that’s a risky behaviour.”

What experts has Baker been talking to? The evidence out there doesn’t support his “zombie law.” For example, Toronto Public Health found that pedestrian inattentiveness, including but not limited to cell phones, contributed to 13 percent of all collisions. In the United States, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a database that keeps track of these kinds of things, found that electronic devices were responsible for all of 0.1 percent of pedestrians’ fatalities.

Although the “zombie law,” also referred to as the Phones Down, Heads Up Act is completely unsupported by evidence, Wynne won’t let the facts get in the way of another Liberal pet project to re-engineer your life.

Licking her chops at the thought of unnecessarily controlling legislation, she called the bill “interesting.” Wynne added: “A hundred years ago, there were no stop signs, and so, you probably could have made that argument then. And there were no cellphones 100 years ago. So now we’ve got this new technology that is changing behaviour, and so, if it is changing behaviour to the point where people are at risk, just like having cars changed behaviour to the point where people were at risk, then I think we need to look at the laws and say, ‘Do we have enough?’”

A “zombie law” introduced during Halloween week was likely a cute move to change channels from the Liberals’ dismal, most recent showing in the polls. The latest Forum Poll put the Liberals at 24%, the New Democratic Party statistically tied at 22%, while the Progressive Conservatives at 45%.

With a looming election and a crowded legislative agenda, the “zombie law” is very unlikely to be passed, which is a good thing. The Liberals should just focus on saving their skin and not remind us plebes that they continue to be obsessed with controlling all aspects of our lives.

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