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Nunavut priest sex abuse case stirs up criticism of ‘least fair law in Canada’

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Canada’s decision to quietly stay the sex charges against a French priest accused of abusing Inuit children shows extradition laws should be “thrown out,” according to an Ottawa academic who spent three years in a French prison.

This week, CBC News reported that the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) stayed charges against Father Johannes Rivoire, an Oblate priest accused of sexually assaulting four children in Nunavut.

That 2017 decision was never publicized. While the department will not share its assessment of the Rivoire case, it said there was no “reasonable prospect of conviction.”

In a statement to CBC News after the story was published, the PPSC said the decision was made, in part, because France does not extradite its citizens. 

That explanation upsets Hassan Diab. 

The former Ottawa university professor says Canada extradited him to France to face decades-old terrorism charges based on questionable evidence.

“[Rivoire’s] country is behind him. In my case, my country and my Department of Justice was pushing hard to send me abroad.”

So Diab is left to wonder. Why was he — but not Rivoire — sent abroad?

CBC News discovered Canada stayed the charges against Father Johannes Rivoire, an Oblate priest who was accused of sexually abusing Inuit children. (Submitted by Lieve Halsberghe)

Canadian and French extradition rules

The extradition treaty between Canada and France is based on the legal principle of comity, a mutual respect and recognition of national laws. But experts in the area say that’s not practically true.

“France, like many civil jurisdictions — continental countries in Europe — will not extradite its citizens, does not trust a foreign country’s justice system to try its citizens,” said Don Bayne, the Ottawa lawyer who has represented Diab throughout his case.

“Canada does.”

Inuit leaders say the government failed them in this case, and Bayne doesn’t disagree. But he adds that Canada compromises the liberty of each Canadian it sends to a foreign country to stand trial. 

“What we’ve allowed to happen in Canada is the whittling down of constitutional liberty in the case of extradition. It’s not justified.”

Don Bayne, the lawyer for Diab, says, ‘What we’ve allowed to happen in Canada is the whittling down of constitutional liberty in the case of extradition. It’s not justified.’ (Jean Delisle/CBC)

The numbers show an imbalance

The imbalance between the two countries is borne out in the statistics.

According to the Department of Justice, Canada received 21 extradition requests from France between 2008 and 2018 and 12 people were sent out of the country.

During the same 10-year period, Canada made eight requests to France and two people were extradited to Canada.

Gary Botting, a criminal lawyer who’s written books on extradition law, says the disparity is a symptom of greater problems with the “least fair law in Canada.”

“The treaty with France states that Canada does not have to send its own nationals back to face trial in France. So why do we send them? It’s just a double standard right down the line.” 

It’s just a double standard right down the line.— Gary Botting

Citing France’s extradition laws as a reason to stay charges is “a cop out,” he says. 

“It seems that the public prosecutor has no faith in the prosecutors in France,” Botting said.

“Yet they send Mr. Diab back to face the music in France and there’s nobody there to carry the ball forward because there’s no evidence, really.”

Diab’s lost years

A CBC News investigation found Canada urged France to find stronger evidence before it extradited Diab and failed to present evidence supporting his innocence. Diab consequently spent three years behind bars in France.

In January 2018, Diab arrived home in Canada to see his wife Rania, daughter Jena and Jad, the son whose birth he was unable to witness. His father died while Diab was locked away.

Diab attends to his daughter Jena, who was turning two when her father was extradited to France to face terrorism charges on which he has always maintained he is not guilty. (Lisa Laventure/CBC)

When asked about time he lost, Diab responds calmly and evenly. 

His experience left him “bitter” and “powerless,” as if there was no one protecting him.

“That’s the job of your country, to help you, not to push to help the requesting state.”

In short, he feels as though his life was worth less than a Frenchman’s.

Decision process is ‘too opaque’

Bayne says the issue is complicated by a lack of transparency from the International Assistance Group, a department within Justice Canada that advises the government on extradition cases. 

It’s a joke that there’s only two questions in an extradition hearing: Window seat? Or aisle?– Don Bayne , lawyer for Hassan Diab

“They are too powerful. They are too insular. It’s too opaque,” said Bayne. “They need independent oversight.” 

In essence, Bayne says judges at an extradition hearing have nothing to do but rubber stamp a decision made in political backrooms.

“It’s a joke that there’s only two questions in an extradition hearing,” he said. “Window seat? Or aisle?” 

Botting also says there is a frustrating lack of transparency within the Department of Justice.

That’s why he’d advise people in Nunavut to redouble their efforts to put pressure on the minister of justice and demand their day in court. 

“The time is ripe. The time is now to push for reform in this whole area, so that the situation doesn’t happen over and over again.”

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Ottawa Book Expo 2020 – Authors, Publishers look forward to a top-notch Canadian book fair

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Diversity has always been a complex issue, no matter where you look.Case in point, world-famous writer, Stephen King, has recently come under criticism for his views on diversity. The best-selling author had stated, “I would never consider diversity in matters of art, only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” Many criticized the novelist as being out of touch and “ignorant,” but one cannot deny that King’s opinions on diversity, mirror the thoughts of a whole lot of people in the creative industry.

The Toronto Book Expo is coming back in 2020, with a multi-cultural concept that aims to include marginalized authors.  The Expo intends to celebrate literary works of diverse cultural backgrounds, and the entire literary community in Canada is expectant. Book-lovers and writers alike, are invited to three days of uninhibited literary celebration where diverse cultural works will be prioritized. At the event, authors will be allowed to share their culture with a broad audience. The audience will be there specifically to purchase multi-cultural works.

Multicultural literary expos do not come every day. In Canada, there is a noticeable lack of literary events celebrating other cultures. This leads to a significantly lower amount of cultural diversity in the industry. The Toronto Book Expo would aim at giving more recognition to these marginalized voices. Understandably, more recognizable work will be prioritized.

The Toronto Book Expo is making a statement that diversity is needed in the literary community. The statement is truly motivating, especially if you consider the fact that this could mean more culturally diverse works of literature.

There is a lot of noticeable cultural ignorance in literature. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and books are one of the best means of improving multi-cultural diversity in literature. The Toronto Book Expo is going to fully utilize books to fight ignorance in the literary industry.

Real progress cannot be made if there is a substantial amount of ignorant people in the industry. In spite of advancements made in education in recent years, there is still a considerable percentage of adults who remain unable to read and write.The Toronto Book Expo aims to bring awareness to social literacy issues such as illiteracy.

It is important to uphold high literacy levels in the community and to support those who are uneducated. A thriving society cannot be achieved if the community is not able to read their civil liberties and write down their grievances.

The major foundation of a working and dynamic society is entrenched in literature. Literature offers us an understandingof the changes being made to our community.

The event would go on for three days at three different venues. Day 1 would hold at the York University Student & Convention Centre at 15 Library Lane on March 19. Day 2 would be held at the Bram and BlumaAppel Salon Facility on the second floor of the main Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto on March 21 and day 3 of the expo would take place at the internationally famous Roy Thomson Hall.

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A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $75,300 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.Attention, Canadians! We’re featuring Money Diaries from across Canada on a regular basis, and we want to hear from you. Submit your Money Diary here.Today: a biologist working in government who makes $75,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathing suit. Occupation: Biologist
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $75,300
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,930
Gender Identity: Woman

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Ottawa doctor pens nursery rhyme to teach proper handwashing

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An Ottawa doctor has turned to song to teach kids — and adults, for that matter — how to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs.

Dr. Nisha Thampi, an infectious disease physician at CHEO, the area’s children’s hospital, created a video set to the tune of Frère Jacques and featuring the six-step handwashing method recommended by the World Health Organization.

Thampi’s 25-second rendition, which was co-authored by her daughter and Dr. Yves Longtin, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, is featured in the December issue of The BMJ, or British Medical Journal. 

Thampi said as an infectious disease physician and a mother of two, she thinks a lot about germs at home and school.

“I was trying to find a fun way to remember the stuff,” she said. “There are six steps that have been codified by the World Health Organization, but they’re complex and hard to remember.” 

Thampi said she came up with the idea to rewrite the lyrics to the nursery rhyme on World Hand Hygiene Day in May, when she was thinking about how to help people remember the technique. 

She said studies have shown that handwashing is effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea-related illnesses and respiratory diseases. 

“So I’d say it’s one of the most important and easiest things we can do.”

The video includes such often-overlooked steps as “wash the back,” “twirl the tips around” and “thumb attack,” which pays special attention to the first digit.

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