Update: April 26 3:11 pm: PM Harper has told CBC new that he will not be supporting this motion brought forth to reopen the debate on when life begins. He says that he can’t stop the motion from being tabled, but that he will not be voting in favour of it. According to CBC this will go up for vote either in June, or September. Let your MP know that it is unacceptable for them to be making decisions about your reproductive system! Thursday April 26 9:00 am: The Liberal party of Canada has started a petition to tell the Harper government to keep their hands off our reproductive rights. __________ According to CBC a motion has been put forth by a conservative MP, Stephen Woodworth, wanting to reopen the debate on when life begins. Despite Harper saying numerous times that his government would not reopen the debate. The government is allowing this one hour of debate in the house of commons tomorrow then it will head to the bottom of the pile. Once they come back around it will be allowed another hour of debate. This is a slippery slope to say the least. Right now the US is in a contraceptive debate of its own. The personhood movement has been strong in the US prompting huge political figures to back motions that would not only make abortions illegal, but also make some birth control illegal. Now personhood has a Canadian counterpart found here . This is some scary stuff. Every time I turn around, some old white guy is trying to legislate my body. Some MPs are saying they want to consult their constituents before doing anything. Others are calling for all parties to allow for free “conscience” votes. So I urge everyone to contact your MPs and stand up for a woman’s reproductive rights. MP Jason Kenney was among those that told CBC he would be consulting his constituents today. Well Mr. Kenney I am one of those, and I urge you to do what your government said it would and not reopen this. My reproductive system is my own. A woman’s body is her own. And frankly I believe that people need to make their own moral choices, and the government needs to stay out of it. If this government is true to its word it will shut this down. “we will not be reopening this debate”- PM Harper This is one debate I’m going to be watching closely. I just can’t help but wonder why it is that old white men keep trying to get all up in my reproductive system.
Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything else to title this blog post. The public safety minister, Vic Toews, might actually be a moron. Today the minister announced that Kingston prison will be closing. As someone who is familiar with the justice system, the announcement to close Kingston comes as no surprise to me. Towes was quotes as telling the media:
Institutions built in the 19th century are not appropriate for managing a 21st century inmate population,The time has come to recognize its crumbling infrastructure, costly upkeep and severe limitations in effectively managing a population of maximum security male offenders, and in the case of Leclerc Institution, medium-security offenders.
This should be of no surprise to Canadians either as Kingston was constructed in 1833-1834. I could get into the back and forth about whether or not the open prison concept is good or bad for corrections. The crumbling infrastructure in Kingston, the dangerous area’s that exist, or the potential for violence etc. This is an on going debate in criminology, as well as between correctional workers. What I want to talk about is the next arguement Toews made for closing this facility:
Despite tough new law-and-order legislation many thought would result in a spike in the prison population, Toews argued the projected increase never materialized.
Toews is not referring to the Safer Streets and Communities Act (AKA- Bill C-10, Omnibus Crime Bill) he is refering to the increase that was expected with the “The Truth In Sentencing Act”. If you are unfamilar with this one, it passed last year and took away the two days for every day served in remand. Meaning that those people who could not get bail would no longer
receive time off their potential sentence for awaiting trial in a remand centre. Basically what Toews is arguing here is that everyone was wrong about the prison population increasing because it hasn’t happened yet due to legislation that was passed less then one year ago? In addition to this Tows took to Twitter to discuss it some more tweeting:
Opposition claims $19 billion price tags for new prisons. In reality we are saving $120 millions by closing needless prisons” and “we aren’t creating new prisoners- just closing revolving door of the legal system
I have several problems with these claims. First, you can’t say that new legislation is not increasing your prison population one year after you introduce it. Why you ask? The answer really is a simple one. Because the justice system doesn’t work that way. Justice is slow and there is no way we have prosecuted enough people under the Truth in Sentencing Act to truly measure the effects it will have on our prison population. Second, it is not just one policy that the problem lays with. It is the combination of new policy that is the problem. In particular is the minimum mandatory sentencing legislation. That only passed the senate on March 12 of this year. There is no way that we will see the effects of all this new legislation for at least 5 years.
To know that these policies will have dire unintended consequences all we have to do is look at the sorry state of the American justice system. California has been ordered by the US supreme court to release 30,000 prisoners, they are on the verge of bankruptsy, and they are currently trying to pass legislation that will ease up on certain drug laws (such as possession of cannabis). Meanwhile in Texas they are closing down prisons, and introducing new rehabilitative approaches to crime in order to curb their own problems that emerged as a result of the same types of legislation. Texas has also come out to warn Canada against Bills such as C-10 warning that it will only cost billions, and won’t do a thing to deter, or reduce crime.
With the introduction of all the minimum mandatory sentences in Bill C-10 that will bring Canada from 29 MMS’s to over 60. You can’t introduce such legislation and not expect a spike in your prison population, and a back log of court cases in your justice system.
Guest Post by: Jan Stanners
In January of 2011 a Toronto police constable speaking on public safely at York University’s Osgood Law School stated that if women wanted to avoid being sexually assaulted they should stop dressing like ‘sluts’. While the Slutwalk movement has tackled the offensiveness of this statement and the concept of victim blaming I was more stunned by the fact that a police officer felt it was acceptable to stand up on a campus in 2011 and make such a statement. Does he really believe that? Is he the exception or the rule?
My incredulity is a function of my experience in life. First, I find it terribly difficult to be critical of the police for I value the service they provide us with poor pay and risk to personal safety. I also had the privilege of teaching a number of amazing students about diversity and the justice system. Most of the students intended to have careers in the area of criminal justice, and their motivation was very similar to that of students in Social Work, Education, and Nursing: they wanted to make the world a better place for all people. (Of course they also informed me that once in a while there’s a student who “just wants a gun”).I remember how thoughtful they were about the way the relationships between men and women could be messed up by socialization into the ‘real man’ role. Having this exposure to future police officers makes it hard to accept that all police officers think the way the aforementioned constable does.
So…I am left with the question of where the Toronto police constable got the idea that how a woman dresses or behaves is a causal factor in whether she is sexually harassed or assaulted.
When I took logic in university I learned that a bad conclusion is often the result of a bad premise. The constable’s statement seems to indicate a premise that ‘once a male is sexually aroused he cannot control himself’. I had heard this same idea expressed more crudely as (pardon the language) “A stiff prick has no conscience”. This made me wonder how prevalent such a belief is in our society.
About a year ago I was introduced to the concept of the WTF? Moment. So I’ll start by asking my female readers a question I used to ask my students “Why is it that when a man is unfaithful his woman blames the other woman?” Feeling that WTF? When you blame another woman for ‘stealing’ your man you have just said your man can’t help himself given her ‘slut’ temptation. So you agree with that premise.
Dr. Phil often insinuates that we as women need to not to ‘let ourselves go’ as our beloved may be tempted by other younger, more attractive women. So an authority (?) like him also believes that if a man is unfaithful it is because he couldn’t help himself…she was too tempting. So he agrees with that premise.WTF?
When basketballer Tony Parker’s marriage fell apart amid speculations of infidelity the public was incredulous: why would he cheat on a hot woman like Eva Longoria? WTF? In reality society in general understands when a man cheats with an attractive woman but doesn’t get it when the other woman is less attractive than his former partner (Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles). So society believes the premise.
When teaching about vicitmization I used Cohen and Felson’s Routine Activities theory which looked at the requirements for a criminal victimization to take place: an attractive target, a motivated offender, and a lack of guardianship. When I asked for an example of target my students, who were often mostly female, would say it was a woman who gets raped because she is dressed like a slut. WTF? So young females believe the premise.
Other examples of this belief have lead to honour killings even here in Canada…women are held responsible for not doing anything to arouse the beast. Rapists are either not convicted or given reduced sentences because the woman was dressed a certain way or drunk or flirting.
Given these examples I can only consider that the constable’s response reflects general societal beliefs about men. And men should be pissed about being viewed that way.
Now let’s go back to that premise about arousal and lack of control. Men should be offended by that because it portrays them as morally inferior and driven only by ‘the little head’. When I look back at my students and the men I have known in my life I just cannot believe they would think or act that way.
Is there any evidence that men really lose control and become automatons when they glimpse an enticing female? The descriptions often describe the men as unable to reason or stop themselves…temporarily insane?? WTF?
It the premise were true, we would see men, inflamed with lust, throw down attractive women on the ground, strip them and rape them, no matter where or when. WTF? I spent a lot of years on a post-secondary campus where there were many beautiful young women walking around in clothing that bared cleavage and pierced navels…never saw anybody get attacked. WTF? So is there something wrong with those men…or is there something wrong about the premise?
There are many situations where healthy males are exposed to temptation but they just don’t act according to the premise. Haven’t read a lot of reports of men rushing the stage at a strip club and assaulting the near-naked performers, or grabbing bikini clad women at the beach. Many performers appear on the Red Carpet in dresses that expose a lot of smooth skin….no assaults. WTF? Problem with the premise?
There is a need to question that premise. Is it ‘temporary insanity’ when the supposedly ‘insane’ man has the presence of mind to assault only women who are walking alone at night or are in their apartments WHERE NO ONE CAN SEE THEM? WTF? Weapons such as knives and immobilizing drugs are often used: THEY JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE THEM ALONG WHEN THEY WENT CRAZY? WTF? The nonsense just goes on and on.
I throw down the gauntlet to the police and other officials of the criminal justice system to start treating sexual assault survivors as victims of a violent crime. Stop acting as if you really believe that premise. Because if you do then we have to worry about you acting that way: after all the majority of you are males. I wish someone had shouted out “Is that what you would do?” when the Toronto constable make that statement.
Is it wrong to think that way about men? YES!! There is too much evidence that the vast majority of men would NEVER assault a woman. There is evidence that sexual assault is planned and executed to avoid detection…that particular male is not insane, he’s a violent offender. It doesn’t matter if he is her date, her teacher, her customer or her husband: he’s a violent offender! Treat him like a criminal, not her. Make us believe that you are performing your stated function: To Protect and Serve.
LAWRENCE E. COHEN AND MARCUS FELSON. University of Illinois, Urbana. American Sociological Review 1979, Vol. 44 (August):588-608
A new report just released by the University of Toronto encourages the cities to consider building safe injection sites similar to the one currently operating in Vancouver. Advocates for safe injection sites argue that they save lives, reduce sharing of needles and other equipment, prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV, produces reduction in public injecting, neighbourhood litter (of needles), provides a safe disposal for needles, and that they increase access to treatment for people who are marginalized. Critics argue that the sites encourage drug use, and that the money spent on such facilities would be better used for drug treatment centres.
These arguments critics come up with are a common misconception about the safe injection sites in Canada. They are not simply places for people to go so they can just shoot up. Before they are allowed to shoot up they must speak to nurses, and health care professionals about the potential risks of the drugs they are using, they must address their mental health issues with a counsellor, and they receive information on drug rehab centres in their areas.
There were six reccomendations provided in the report about establishing these safe injection sites:
- Both Toronto and Ottawa would Benefit from Implementation of Supervised Injection Facilities.
- The Optimal Model for a Supervised Injection Facility is a Fixed Facility that is Integratedwithin an Existing Organization
- A Strong Evaluation Plan is anEssential Component of anyImplementation Plan.
- There is Insufficiency Evidence toSupport a Recommendation toImplement a Supervised Smoking Facility
- A Supervised Injection Facilityshould have Clearly Established Rules.
- The Process to Establisha Supervised InjectionFacility Should be Part of aComprehensive Drug Strategy
All of this said, it will be much harder to set up such a site in Toronto, and Ottawa. In Vancouver drug use is pretty much contained to the east side and as such the centre went up on the east side. However, in Toronto and Ottawa drug use is spread out and not as contained therefore advocates will undoubtedly run into the NIMBY issue (not in my back yard), and even possibly the NOTE issue (Not Over There Either). This is because people are not going to want these safe injection sites anywhere near their neighbourhoods, or anywhere they might possibly go in the vicinity of one day.
Personally I think the push back to the safe injection sites shows the ignorance of some people. We’ve stigmatized drug use, and labelled the user as a criminal and therefore we, as a society, would be perfectly OK if they OD’d in a ditch, or back alley somewhere. But god forbid we set up a facility where they could go to safely get their fix, and possibly get into the appropriate drug rehab program.
Besides, I think it is pretty clear the war on drugs is an epic failure. If we can somehow contain the situation, reduce the risk of spreading disease, and help some addicts in the process why wouldn’t we have these sites? I mean you people do realize that alcohol is legal and causes just as many problems as drugs… right? And in regards to cannabis, I would argue that the consequences we see from alcohol is worse.
Think about this: a 2002 study, cited in the Safer Streets and Community Act (more commonly known as the omnibus bill, or Bill C-10) stated that substance abuse cost Canadians $39.8 billion. Tobacco accounted for $17 billion (42.7%), alcohol accounted for $14 billion (36.6%), illegal drugs for $8 billion (20.7%), health care costs amounted to $8.8 billion (22.1%), and the cost of law enforcement to deal with this was $5 billion (13.6%). So, illegal drugs cause half as many issues as Tobacco, and almost half as many issues as alcohol? Even if we legalized drugs, and had a 50% increase in drug related costs it would still be less then the amount of money tobacco costs us yearly? Interesting.
I encourage everyone to start doing some research on this issue before screaming about safe havens for ‘criminals’.
AB Law Enforcement, and Other Emergency Workers, Should be Partially Subject to Distracted Driving Laws
So, since this distracted driving law came into effect in Alberta I have been watching emergency workers. What I have noticed is that police still use their cell phones frequently while on the road. Yes, I am aware that under the new Alberta law emergency personal have an exemption. Last Aug Calgary’s chief of police told media in Calgary that police officers are exempt because they use the equipment for work and have advanced driver training. While, as of yesterday I would tend to agree with the chief today I have decided that this is a weak argument.
I was sitting in a study room exchanging stories with other students about the dumbass things we see people do behind the wheel, you know it seemed more fun then studying. One of the girls made a comment about how she doesn’t understand why emergency personal are not exempt from the law. After a bit of conversation one of the women, who’s husband happens to be a police officer, stated (to my surprise) that it is a bunch of crap that they are not exempt and there is no reason why police officers, and other emergency personal can’t use blue tooth in their vehicles.
I think she may be onto something here. I understand that police need to be able to dial their phones, even when they are behind the wheel (if they are not on duty with a partner). But I am curious why law enforcement officials, who claim that texting, or talking while driving is extremely dangerous, are not utilizing the technology available to them to keep their workers from being distracted, and by extension keep us all, and our roads, safer.
What does everyone else think? Should cities, the government, and policing organizations do everything possible to ensure our emergency workers are going hands free?