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Police must maintain trust of communities, says judge in charge of street check report

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Five days after the New Year’s Eve ball drop of a 300-plus page review of carding and police street checks in Ontario, Justice Michael Tulloch and his team met with reporters and the public to talk about the results and recommendations at a downtown Toronto hotel that is a brisk 10-minute walk away from the politics of Queen’s Park.

What will come of Tulloch’s street check report is dependent upon political will and the majority provincial Progressive Conservative government, led by Premier Doug Ford.

It is was one of four, highly critical major reports into policing released within the past month, including a review of Thunder Bay Police Service by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and an interim report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission in its ongoing inquiry into racial profiling and discrimination by the Toronto Police Service.

The common thread to all of them is that none of the findings were news to Black and Indigenous communities in Toronto and the province.

Read more:

Police carding should be banned in Ontario, independent review says

Address racial bias in policing to stop carding, advocates say

On Friday, before a conference room at the Chelsea Hotel packed with rights advocates, the public and police brass from several Ontario police services at the Chelsea Hotel, Tulloch stressed the importance of police maintaining the trust of the communities they serve.

“The police are the public, and the public are the police,” said Tulloch, referring to one of the guiding tenets of the Peel Principles, which he said helped guide him in his review.

In order to maintain safety, there must be community and police co-operation, said Tulloch, who said he was not sure before he began his review what constituted a legitimate street check.

Tulloch, an Ontario Court of Appeal justice, and his team consulted with more than 2,200 people, including representatives from 34 police services, and received more than 100 written submissions.

He soon learned the scope of the issue, and how it disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous and racialized groups.

Tulloch’s street checks report stresses the importance of training and making it clear to police what is expected of them in street check encounters, where “carding” — the complete randomness in choosing who to stop, question and document, and creating “a database for general intelligence purposes” — has no place.

Of the 103 recommendations made, many of them aimed at tweaking and adding language to existing provincially-mandated street check regulations enacted in 2017, several aim to clarify, suggesting the regulations should:

  • Expressly state that they do not apply to “attempts to confirm the identity of an individual who matches the description of a missing person, human trafficking victim or other victim of crime” or to “interactions that have a community-building purpose, meaning on-duty police contact with members of the community meant to foster positive relationships and/or assist members of the public without gathering identifying information for an investigative or intelligence purpose.”
  • Define “suspicious activity” to mean an activity where, under all of the circumstances, there are objective, credible grounds to request identifying information.
  • Direct and train officers who have identified suspicious activity and if it is “feasible to do so, a police officer should first make inquiries of an individual to confirm or dispel the officer’s suspicion without requesting identifying information.”

Shortly after coming to power, the Progressive Conservative government hit the pause button on a police reform bill that included wide-ranging changes, including enhancements to the province’s civilian Special Investigation Unit, a law brought in by the previous Liberal government in response to another of Tulloch’s reports on police oversight. The Conservatives are reviewing the bill, and intend to introduce a bill of their own.

In reaction to the report, Sylvia Jones, the minister who oversees policing, said this week that the government will review Tulloch’s street check report. Jones said “new police legislation will reflect a simple principle: racism and discrimination have no place in policing. Justice Tulloch’s report will inform our work as we fix Ontario’s policing legislation.”

Between 2010 and 2014, repeated Toronto Star analysis of Toronto police street check and carding data, obtained through freedom of information requests, has shown that Black people were more likely in each of the city’s 70-plus patrol zones to be stopped, questioned and documented than white people, and more so in predominantly white areas of the city.

While Black and, to a lesser extent, brown-skinned people were subject to higher rates of street checks, compared to what they represent in Toronto’s population, people with white skin colour represented the largest skin colour group, by sheer volume, in street check data examined by the Star.

Similar patterns emerged in other Ontario police jurisdictions, leading to the enactment of the province-wide regulations.

Toronto police suspended street checks involving the inputting of personal details into a database in 2015.

Jim Rankin is a reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @Jleerankin

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Ecology

Yukon and Northern BC First Nations tackle climate change using Indigenous knowledge and science

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YUKON, June 18, 2021 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is working together in partnership with Indigenous and Northern communities in finding solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the North.

Today, Minister of Northern Affairs, Daniel Vandal, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), Larry Bagnell, highlighted progress on three unique, Indigenous-led projects that are helping communities in Yukon and Northern British Columbia adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary met virtually with Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) to learn about their community-led climate change monitoring program. C/TFN has partnered with Tsay Keh Dene Nation (TKDN) and Chu Cho Environmental of Prince George, British Columbia, to build a community-led monitoring project that examines environmental data and Indigenous knowledge to create a holistic picture of how the climate is changing across C/TFN and TKDN traditional territories. The project combines tracking of current and historical climate trends with knowledge shared by Elders while also providing opportunities for youth mentorship and climate change awareness.

The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) is also leading a unique project to assess the impacts of climate change within their traditional territory. Climate change is causing many of the culturally significant ice patches to melt, exposing organic artifacts to oxygen and leading to rapid deterioration. The TRTFN ice patch mapping project will involve performing archaeological assessments to prevent the degradation of artifacts. Research will be guided by traditional knowledge, Elders and oral histories, when available, and heavily involve community, Elders, youth and Knowledge Keepers.

The Pelly Crossing Selkirk Development Corporation is leading the Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment project through the installation of a Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) system. The initiative includes a feasibility study leading up to the construction of a renewable energy facility, including wind, solar and battery energy storage. Expanding clean energy within the region will have direct benefits for communities, including reduced reliance on diesel, job creation and revenue generation for Selkirk First Nation. 

These projects are delivering important environmental, social and economic benefits that lead to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities across Yukon and Northern British Columbia. They also build community clean energy capacity and help to avoid the impacts of climate change.

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Ecology

Atlantic Provinces Ready For Aquaculture Growth

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Aquaculture is an important economic driver for rural, coastal and Indigenous communities, and Atlantic Canada is well positioned to increase aquaculture production as global demand for sustainably sourced seafood grows.

That is why the ministers responsible for aquaculture in the Atlantic provinces have agreed to the ongoing development and management of their industries based on common principles. A new memorandum of understanding has been signed by the four ministers, which extends the previous agreement signed in 2008.

“In a time when food security is especially important, it is good to see our aquaculture industry has grown steadily and is poised for continued growth in 2021 based on environmentally responsible, science-based policies and practices,” said Keith Colwell, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Nova Scotia. “Our Atlantic partnership continues to help the industry grow sustainably.”

Cooperation between the provinces and the aquaculture industry has led to improvements in pest management, environmentally sustainable aquaculture methods, aquatic animal health and policies to support the shared use of marine and freshwater resources. It also aims to align regulation and policy between the provinces to make the regulatory requirements easier to understand by industry and the public.

Each province has a comprehensive and robust legislative and regulatory framework to ensure environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and public accountability. The provinces update their legislation and regulations regularly. Nova Scotia revamped its regulatory framework in 2015; New Brunswick received Royal Assent for a new Aquaculture Act in 2019 and is working on the supporting regulations; Newfoundland and Labrador completely revised its aquaculture policy in 2019; and Prince Edward Island has recently drafted a new Aquaculture Act.

The ministers have agreed to continue to use science-based evidence for management decisions, thereby increasing public and investor confidence in the Atlantic Canadian aquaculture industry.

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Ecology

COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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We all want the same thing: a clean and responsible energy future for our children and future generations while continuing to enjoy a high standard of living.

On December 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new climate plan which he claimed will help achieve Canada’s economic and environmental goals.

The proposed plan by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” will have an initial investment of $15 billion of taxpayer’s money. It is built on 5 pillars of action:

  1) Making the Places Canadians Live and Gather More Affordable by Cutting Energy Waste

2) Making Clean, Affordable Transportation and Power Available in Every Community

3) Continuing to Ensure Pollution isn’t Free and Households Get More Money Back

4) Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage

5) Embracing the Power of Nature to Support Healthier Families and More Resilient Communities  

In my paper, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0” I will objectively critique each pillar in the government’s new climate plan and provide alternative solutions to the same issues.

  This is an alternative plan that supports workers, protects lower income earners and creates economic growth while respecting the environment and focusing on the dignity of work.

  This plan abandons virtue-signaling projects and relies on Canadian ingenuity to build our economy and restore Canada’s role of responsible leadership in the world.

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