This Blog will discuss politics, government, corruption, police, S.I.U., courts, education, min. of attorney general, min. of labour, v.o.i.c.e. and other current and past events of interest to concerned citizens. In the "About me" section to the right and down I have included the names of persons whom I have tremendous respect for. Their influence on me however has been primarily environmental (and personal) and this is therefore a disclaimer that all words posted on this Blog/Website are mine and I alone am responsible for them. I say this with the greatest respect and affection to my friends.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this Opinion piece from Luisa D'Amato titled ""No zeros" policy does kids a disservice". Apparently our provincial Ministry of Education don't have enough real work to do. Luisa refers to the "educrats" at the Waterloo Region District School Board but this derogatory but wickedly accurate term also should refer to our provincial counterparts. The province are unrolling, with the assistance of their well paid hamsters (WRDSB), a new policy which says that teachers can no longer deduct marks for late assignments nor can they give zeros for ones never handed in.
Malkin Dare of the Society for Quality Education (SQE) states that these rules are "a ridiculous policy sending the wrong message". This policy totally undermines the work ethic and discipline of the majority of students who conscientiously hand in assignments on time plus it sends the message to the slackers that it's O.K.; in the real world you won't get disciplined for ignoring direct orders to get work done on time. Is it any wonder standards are slipping and edubabble is on the upswing? Also take note that instead of fighting this nonsense our local board are showing their true colours. Suck up to the provincial authority while maintaining closed ranks to any constructive criticism from concerned parents and groups such as SQE.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Well now things are definitely getting heated at the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith. The chief psychologist, Cindy Lanigan, has testifed that there was an ongoing "reign of terror". She described it as a constant badgering and denigration of underlings primarily by the deputy warden. Even she, the chief psychologist, "...felt constantly undermined and her professional confidence eroded by the incessant sniping from above.". These are quite amazing and terrifying revelations. They also tend to clarify the testimony given by the medical doctor at Grand Valley who has testified that she did not know about the orders not to enter and remove ligatures immediately.
The impression that both testimonys is giving me is that as usual political and hierarchical status overules medical experience and opinions. It appears that senior management at Grand Valley were firmly in the driver's seat and would brook no dissenting opinions. That being said both the deputy warden and warden won't be testifyiong until the fall. Their testimony will be interesting in that I wonder how much autonomy versus interference they had from their superiors at the Correctional Service of Canada. Also if indeed the CSC were calling the shots on things like overtime, staffing, use of force reports; did the CSC base their policies on hard medical advice and evidence or not? Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Smith inquest told of reign of terror".
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "McGuinty back on the stand today". About the only possible way to make this whole thing look worse is by being caught trying to coverup. which is exactly what's happened. From a possible $230 million loss to the current $580 million; the Libearls "seat saver" program should be the end for them. If it isn't then democracy is doomed. I say this as not a Conservative partisan or supporter. This was beyond the pale before we found out about missing and or deleted e-mails.
The legislative committee hearings into gas plants have got their teeth into e-mails that supposedly, legally were never to have been deleted or destroyed. Now unless the provincial Liberals can pull a rabbit out of the hat and prove that they didn't break the law by deleting incriminating e-mails; then they are into it big time. The Premier has resigned as both Premier and now as a Member of the Legislature. How far he can distance himself from the Liberal Party and new Premier Wynne is debateable. Personally I just don't think the voters are that dumb. What is amazing to me is that simultaneously the Conservative brand federally is going down the tubes while the Liberal brand provincially is doing the same. Almost makes one think that our politicians are self serving crooks, doesn't it?
Monday, June 24, 2013
Neither the blue wall nor the courts were able to get this officer off the hook. The citizen's name was Jason Stern and he was beaten badly and charged by Officer Nevill with assault and intent to resist. "However, charges against Stern were dropped after video surveillance emerged showing the officer attacking him without provocation, and beating him even after handcuffing him, leaving a pool of blood on the floor.". This story is in last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record and is titled "Police officer in Barrie found guilty of assault". It is my opinion that every police department has a few officer Nevill's on the payroll and they are way too hard to get rid of. This is also why I have a bit of difficulty getting worked up over a few of our Waterloo Regional Police officers indulging in recreational marijuana use. Yes it's illegal and yes it sets a bad example. Compared however to this grotesque abuse of authority in Barrie, the marijuana use is essentially a victimless crime.
Every year there are citizen complaints against police officers for excessive use of force. Every year the officers get exonerated. Is this due to the blue wall and judges who give more credibility to officers than compalinants or is it a simple lack of unbiased witnesses and or video surveillance? I would really like to know how many times Officer Nevill in Barrie has had complaints against him for excessive force or assault during his career. Why do I find it almost impossible to believe that he got caught redhanded on his very first assault of an innocent citizen?
Friday, June 21, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Manager didn't have proper training, inquiry told". Under oath, manager Michelle Bridgen testified that she did not have the proper training required in order to deal with behavioural high risk inmates such as Ashley Smith. Up to this point it appeared that the guards initially received the major blame at the time of Smith's death but during the Inquest the finger seemed to be pointing at senior management including the warden and deputy warden. Today's article indicates that at least one senior manager is pointing the finger further up the Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) chain of command.
It would seem obvious that major errors of the fatal variety were made by CSC and or their staff. I am not aware at this time of any ulterior motives or malice involved and have heard nothing to so indicate. That being said, dead is dead, and it should never have happened. Even more of a question for me is how a minor could be imprisoned for so long on such a minor outside charge. This whole idea of "institutional" charges is abhorrent and repulsive.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record has published a Letter To The Editor from a Richard Russ, a retired police officer. Put bluntly, Mr. Russ clearly has no sympathy for Officer Borda and his predicaments involving marijuana. Mr. Russ seems to feel that Officer Borda's conduct has besmirched the reputation of the vast majority of dedicated police officers. Similar to a few policemen at the G20 summit in Toronto, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the barrel.
I find myself somewhat of two minds. Firstly I cannot abide police officers who use physical force unecessarily or abusively while being much less offended by marijuana use by an officer. If the marijuana use had been by a private citizen I'm sure I would see this as a non event. The problem with a police officer using marijuana is the clear hypocrisy involved. How could that officer enforce the law that he himself seems to feel is unwarranted? I have seen no evidence produced, similar to the Constable Robson case, that the marijuana was for some kind of pain or stress relief of the officer involved.
Unfortunately Mr. Russ has a point and that is that these repeated cases are hurting the Waterloo Regional Police Service's reputation. I don't know what the answer is.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
A week ago (June 12) the Waterloo Region Record carried a story titled "Ashley Smith's prison doctor grilled on instructions to guards". This article describes the cross-examination of Dr. Carolyn Rogers, Ashley Smith's physician at the Grand valley Institution. Dr. Rogers stated "If there is a ligature on you have to go in and take it off", further she added that waiting for signs of physical distress is "completely inappropriate". Also "Rogers testified she found out about the "do not enter" instructions after Ashley died, and felt like she was "kicked in the stomach.". Obviously this testimony makes the senior management at Grand valley look completely negligent regarding their orders to guards.
Speaking of management and cognizant that the inquest is not yet over, we are certainly getting a list of names of various responsible parties. Today's Waterloo Region Record has a story titled "Middle manager to testify in Ashley Smith inquest". Four names are mentioned in this story who allegedly gave instructions to delay entering ashley Smith's cell. They are Michelle Bridgen, deputy warden Joanna Pauline, Eric Broadbent and Cindy Berry the acting warden at the time. I've been following this story in the Record and what I have not seen to date is any directives from higher up the chain of command at Correctional Services Canada that would have given either feedback or validation to the local on-site management. Whether there was or not the local management certainly appear not to have been coordinating with the on-site medical doctor which I find appalling.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
This is not a frivolous problem. Our federal government are hoping to get reelected on their "get tough on crime" agenda. It's just downright awkward that all our criminal activity is on the downswing. Perhaps if the Tories continue to cut welfare, disability and unemployment insurance at the same time bringing in massive numbers of immigrants, refugees, "seasonal" workers and just about anyone who can increase the labour pool, while undermining wages and unions, crime will take an upturn. I do know that my favourite judicial saying is that the law in all its' majesty will treat a rich person stealing a loaf of bread just as harshly as a poor person.
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carrys an opinon piece by Dr. Donald Morgenson a psychology prof at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. The title is "Too many mentally ill ending up in our jails". As I understand Dr. Morgenson's article, but for the massive numbers of the mentally ill in our jails and prisons, our crime statistics would be even lower than they are. A prime example would be the criminalization of Ashley Smith. If you look at her sentence and time served you'd think she was a mass murderer. Not so. Just a huge number of "institutional" charges laid upon a young person with huge social, emotional and mental problems. Her initial crime at age 15 was throwing a crab apple at a postal worker. Four years later she's in isolation with another four years confinement ahead of her. I'm starting to think some of our institutions are run by sociopaths and psychopaths. The decisions they make defy common sense or decency.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Last Saturday's Woolwich Observer has an Editorial by Steve Kannon titled "Politicians and bureaucrats are self-serving, but they still call it democracy". Quoting Steve "Canada's system of democratic representation is faltering if a majority of Canadians do not believe their interests are well represented by their elected representatives.". Further "...the study found Canadians feel their MPs represent their political party better than they do their constituents...".
Commenting on democracy in general Steve says "Hearing directly from Canadians should prompt politicians to act in our best interests, a different message than the one they hear from well-financed corporate lobbyists on a daily basis.". Also Steve says "The current process is unethical, dishonest and secretive, which means politicians are more likely to make decisions that are bad for the average Canadian, while favouring corporate interests.".
As for accountability "Politicians write the rules for themselves. They prefer no rules, but failing that they draft rules with no enforcement. If there must be enforcement, then there are no penalties for breaking the rules.".
The bottom line for Steve Kannon is "...politicians are reluctant to do the right thing- we need to force them to do what Canadians want.".
Wow! Steve sure doesn't pull his punches. This is the reality of democracy in Canada. It is pathetic and getting worse and it boils down to an ethical deficit at the top of all levels of government.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Well one could certainly be excused for believing the above title based upon the behaviour of the CSC in regards to Ashley Smith. Today's Waterloo Region Record has yet another story indicating blind obedience to stupid, idiotic and basically unlwaful orders being handed down by the deputy warden, Joanna Pauline, at the Grand Valley prison. Between her and the use of force "reviewer" sent by CSC to the Grand Valley prison, the only surprise to me is that Ashley Smith survived as long as she did.
Apparently those geniuses at CSC felt that a person's face turning purple was not an indication of a lack of oxygen getting through. Apparently those geniuses at CSC were more concerned about the paperwork behind use of force incidents than they were about the mortal jeopardy an inmate was in. Do you know what really scares me? This attitude of following orders, even illegal ones, is well and deeply entrenched in Canadian workforces. The truth is this is exactly how most workplaces behave. Bosses become so by being toadies to their bosses and then they expect everybody to kiss their butts when they are in positions of authority. Management and ownership are usually more interested in control and discipline over their employees than they are in either quality or doing the right thing. Each and every time someone is injured at work or dies, we all wring our hands and say we don't understand. Management and ownership understand perfectly well. The Ashley Smith's are merely collateral damage in their wee minds. Disgraceful!
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "Ontario jail staff committing brazen acts of violence". What I find astounding is the lack or the word "alleged" throughout this story. This story is reporting upon a 135 page report written by our provincial ombudsman, Andre Marin. Words are not minced and examples given are very nasty. The ombudsman also focuses on the code of silence whereby guards don't tell on each other. He states in regards to the silence "I've never seen it so entrenched, so pervasive.". Apparently a minority of guards are acting as bullys and intimidating prisoners and some fellow guards alike. Clearly those that are supposed to be in charge are not. Equally clearly when you hear the bleating now starting among politicians, they are only beginning to care as the issue has become public. Their lack of empathy and humanity has probably allowed this situation to fester and get worse over a long period of time.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record spells it out clearly. Teachers by the thousands across Ontario are scrambling to use up their sick days before the school year ends within a week or two. "Using up sick days" is a euphimism for lieing, cheating and stealing from Ontario taxpayers who pay their salaries. The vast majority of these taxpayers get neither the pay, the benefits nor the time off that teachers get. Yesterday's article is titled "Supply teachers in demand, also on edge". Boy if and when we get another provincial Conservative government, guess what group is front and centre to get their goodies cut off? Ten to fifteen percent of teachers are absolutely going to screw the pooch for the rest of their colleagues. One of the best employment gigs out there and the greed and sense of entitlement, not to mention stupidity will put an end to it. And guess what? No one will have an ounce of sympathy when the axe comes down.
This article focuses on the stress for occasional teachers. They I can feel sorry for up to a point. It would indeed be stressful literally not knowing from day to day if you're working the next day. Also reading between the lines you can also see the favourtism and bias that goes on in prioritizing some teachers over others. The hypocrisy is not lost on me here. Once fully in the union as full time teachers everybody gets treated the same from good teachers to absolutely awful ones. Same raises, same respect, same contracts. This financial ripoff of the taxpayers should be criminal but it's not. Two teachers are getting paid while one bags the day off in order not to lose their "sick days". Most of us in the work force would be thrilled to get paid for even a few sick days a year. What a disgrace that Canadian workers are treated so inequitably.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Last Wednesday's Waterloo Region Record carried another story concerning lawsuits versus the Mounties namely "Lawyer urges RCMP to settle harassment case". Apparently the Mounties like many like minded organizations caught in the act of bad behaviour have developed an "Action Plan". Sometimes these action plans are entirely for show and public relations. In a sense it's an acknowledgement that yes there is a problem but it can also be used a smoke and mirrors. "Oh look we've stopped doing wrong and aren't we on the right track now.". Meanwhile if they aren't seriously willing to address the past harm they've done then these action plans are all about distraction and changing the channel as in look to the future not the past.
According to lawyer David Klein his client Janet Merlo is trying to get her action acknowledged as a class action suit. Initially her lawyer suggested they had up to 100 officers willing to join but now he states the figure is closer to 300 of which a third are still active members of the RCMP. It takes a special kind of organization with really special people at the top to let a problem of this magnitude fester for so long. Perhaps somewhere in the future these cases will be in criminal courts rather than civil where the big organizations and big bucks have the advantage. Shame on our once proud national force but mostly shame on those in charge and the politiicians who put them there.
Friday, June 7, 2013
So private meetings are improper and illegal; so what's your point is the overall attitude of municipal officials. The Municipal Act definitely has something to say but many municipalities are more concerned with committees of council violating this rule than they are about mayors or councillors. Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record has a story titled "Bruce County groups demand probe of nuclear waste talks". It seems as if behind the scenes discussions have been going on literally for years prior to the public being so apprised. These discussions involve Ontario Power Generation, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and various and assorted local mayors. The other big problem is that included in the discussion was high level radioactive wastes such as spent fuel rods. Many residents are not thrilled with the low to medium level wastes but the opposition to the high level stuff is off the charts.
All levels of politicians are masters of hypocrisy but when it comes to in camera meetings apparently municipalities are first in being ready and willing to expand the definition of allowable topics. Recently here in Woolwich we even had a councillor on a committee insist on a gag order concerning an in camera meeting. The gag order wasn't regarding who said what, it was about the final decision made. This decision was going to both the Township administration and shortly afterwards be put on the Agenda for consideration by council. Clearly councillors are quite used to playing games and bafflegabbing the public at will.
Similarily here in Waterloo Region we've had Indemnitys and Sweet Heart Deals given to multiple local polluters. You can bet your bottom dollar none of these were discussed openly whereby the public could know ahead of time and so comment. Clearly this provincial legislation lacks teeth and most likely was intended to be just like that.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
""We aren't seeing any great anomalies in teacher absences" Catholic school board official John Shewchuk said.". He then goes on to advise that last Friday there were 206 teacher absences out of 1,400 permanent teacher contracts. Similarily the public board stated that they had not had any "failures to fill" this year. What that means is that supply teachers were available to fill absences. Of course the public board did not indicate how many teachers missed last Friday causing Joe Taxpayer to have to pay twice for teachers' services. Getting back to the Catholic board and there non anomalies; let's do the math. 206 out of 1,400 is just barely shy of 15% of the teachers absent that day. Again these teachers get paid to go golfing, swimming or sufferring from a horrible winter cold in June. Shame on them and shame on both our school boards, again. This story is in today's Waterloo region record titled "Teacher absenteeism rising".
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Today's Waterloo Region Record carry this story "Teacher absenteeism on the rise". Unfortunately the Record have a new on-line presence which is making linking to their stories more difficult. This story is all about teachers playing hookey and getting paid (by us) to do so. In summation ""It's very unprofessional, and we consider ourselves professionals," said one longtime Toronto Catholic teacher who asked not to be named.". Boy that really covers the behaviour going on currently by some teachers. The sub heading of this story is "School boards struggling to find substitutes as teachers use up sick days they can no longer bank".
I couldn't believe the numbers as follows : "A record 1,664 of Peel's 10,000 teachers were absent last Friday, of whom only 1,210 could be replaced with a substitute teacher.". That is 16% of the teachers absent on one day. To add further insult to injury it was a Friday. This article makes it clear that Mondays and Fridays are the favourite days for teachers to get "sick".
Clearly our school boards have been hiring "qualified" teachers for a very long time. Equally clear is that these university educated and teachers' college grads are less interested in teaching our youth and more interested in wages, benefits and longer holidays than the rest of us. The current situation is a direct consequence of incompetent self serving school boards combined with incompetent, self serving politicians at the provincial level. Meanwhile the puffery about our world class educational system goes on unabated. Get ready because this mess needs serious fixing and the teachers have no one to blame but themselves. It's long past time the majority of teachers and their unions started applying pressure to self discipline as clearly nobody else is much interested in doing so.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carrys this story "State-of-the-art police facility opens in Waterloo". In 2006 the estimate for this building was $8.3 million. It actually cost $ 18.6 million. Oh well I've said it before, nothing is too good for our boys in blue. With an annual operating budget of $140 million, really what's another $18 million or so . I mean seriously compared to our new Regional downtown Courthouse this was an absolute steal. As a friend of mine down in Cambridge is wont to say "Hang onto your wallets folks".
I enjoyed Councillor Tom Galloway's quote "It is a big price tag, but the building speaks for itself'. It certainly does because Lord knows no taxpayers were asked their opinions. Further as I've indicated here in the Advocate before, civilian oversight as in the Police Board is a joke. I wonder if they even spent five minutes years ago looking at this issue. New courthouses, new police buildings, a new police contract but our justice system is same old, same old. Meanwhile these same regional politicians are hell bent for leather to get us a world class LRT tranit system that we don't need and can't afford. Why with this lack of accountability would anyone be surprised by anything anymore?
Monday, June 3, 2013
This I will say: One Toronto cop got extremely lucky last week. I read the quote by the eye witness and I saw the video of the incident on the internet. Clearly a cop at the G20 viciously assaulted, knocked down and then knocked down for a second time Dorian Barton causing a broken shoulder and other significant injuries. Mr. Barton was clearly identified in the video but the policeman due to uniform, helmut and crowds was not. That being said there was one independent eye witness whose testimony was diminished by the judge allegedly because of "the animosity he displayed toward the police" while on the stand. Apparently when one witnesses police brutality one must be very careful under oath not to display contempt or anger towards the accused. Boy I sure hope the judge has to explain that comment to someone, anyone. Meanwhile
the victim's father was quite upset with the Crown. He stated that relying on one witness only doomed the case from the start. Apparently the prosecuter was unwilling to put fellow officers on the stand who witnessed the assault. Left unsaid was the term the blue line or closing the ranks.
The Waterloo Region Record carried the results of the officer's trial in last Saturday's Record. The story was titled "Officer not guilty of G20 assault charges" and to date I haven't been able to link it back to the Record's website. The acquited officer was Const. Glenn Weddell of the Toronto Police Force. Comments made by the president of the Toronto Police Association strain credulity as this acquittal of a specific officer did not diminish the evidence that a criminal assault took place by a police officer upon Mr. Barton.