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.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Yesterday's Woolwich Observer had as usual an excellent opinion ("His View") by Steve Kannon. The title was "Officials intent on removing privacy, civil rights, and we're not helping ourselves". The most frightening part for me was Steve's description of the Newfoundland man who wrote some angry tweets in response to a police shooting two years prior. Police quickly arrested him and had him committed to a psychiatric hospital. Ever think that our police have way too much power and not nearly enough accountability?
As bad as this example was what I saw on Channel 2 last evening was so much worse. A black man (George Toka) in Louisiana was arrested, convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole primarily for being black, 17 years old and best friends with the victim. The two white persons targeted for an armed robbery by the dead victim and another friend described the shooter who had accidentally shot his co-robber as being black, 5' 10" - 6' tall and around 170 pounds. After their written and signed description they were shown a head shot only of Mr. Toka whom they then "identified". George Toka was 5' 5'' tall and weighed 125 pounds. No matter, without any other evidence whatsoever he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to life without parole. Recently he has been released from prison after serving thirty years for a crime he did not commit.
Sandy & Woolwich Council take note. This is precisely why citizens should never put up with your lying and making up the rules as they suit you. You won an election. As Donald Trump has shown, any asshole can win an election. In fact it's pretty well guaranteed that one asshole will win at each and every election.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
So quick check. Exactly what further details have been released in regards to the shooting of Maurice Rivard on Ottawa St. early last month? Other than a K-W Record story on March 15/17 advising us that he had been released from Maplehurst (Milton) on bail I've heard exactly nothing. I reported here on the March 15/17 story. As I spent a week's holidays south of the border recently I thought that I might have missed something in the Record. I just did a check on-line and nothing came up except the original couple of stories.
So... He's alive and recovering and the Ontario Special Investigations Unit have been called in. The individual is being charged with trying to disarm a police officer. Interesting. That's it? What crime had he allegedly committed prior to the officer arming himself? Was he the driver that some anonymous? citizen had reported to police half an hour and a few miles away as driving erratically or was he simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?
This incident could have ended tragically as so many others have. Citizens deserve timely information when police shoot citizens. What the hell happened and what the hell is going on here?
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Today's Waterloo Region Record carries an article from Peter Shawn Taylor titled "Is Hamilton's LRT from an alternative universe?". Essentially Mr. Taylor is describing the apparently major difference in attitude and opposition to a massive expenditure on a fixed route mass transit system. Despite Hamilton being less than an hour away by car citizens and politicians there have a significantly different attitude to spending "free" money from either the feds or the province.
Mr. Taylor also gives credit where it is due locally. He gives Regional Chair Ken Seiling "credit" for clever manoeuvering combined with fortuitous timing around the 2010 municipal election. Unfortunately all the regional politicians who claimed to be against a large tax increase locally to help pay for the LRT, just ahead of the 2010 municipal election, managed to make a 180 degree turn in their thinking when after the election they managed to vote in favour of proceeding with the LRT. Unfortunately these regional politicians were not appropriately disciplined at the 2014 municipal election even if it was too late to stop the LRT.
Overall Mr. Taylor clearly was never in favour of our local LRT and probably for very good reasons. Car traffic will be negatively affected, taxes will rise and many businesses have suffered during the extended construction of the rail system. Oh and the route itself from one mall to another seems somewhat bizarre. Finally will the system be well used? Will it be used other than for the initial startup period just to check it out?
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Well for the first time in years I travelled to the U.S.. By airplane. Oh Lord. I can't tell which bothered me more. The disrespectful, crowded, noisy and slow airports or the security measures now apparently routine. Even the embarking and disembarking from the planes I found distasteful and tedious. What other business treats its' customers so shabbily? Sure I've got an artificial hip but being treated like a probable criminal or terrorist is really too much. Metal detectors, wands, frisks and even gel applied to your hands looking for traces of explosive devices is ridiculous. Remind me again why I spent my hard earned money a year ago for a passport. Wasn't my identity and background checked before they gave me a passport? Doesn't my passport have a picture of me on it?
The worst of all this delay and unnecessary disrespect is that it's unlikely to actually stop any terrorist willing to blow himself or others to smithereens. What I see this eventually doing is discouraging tourist dollars from entering the U.S.. I see it reducing demand on flights other than for business or government purposes. Why would I spend a cent in a country that clearly doesn't want me there?
Monday, April 24, 2017
The provincial and federal governments to date are not interested and have suggested that security is a concern. Hacking is possible although just as likely could be one person voting for all the eligible voters in the home especially if a some of them are unlikely to vote. There is also the possibility of a loss of anonymity when voting either by phone or computer. Those on the receiving end might be able to determine the source of the incoming calls if they were so inclined.
Very recently the City of Cambridge has decided to go ahead with Internet and telephone voting. This is despite Kitchener and Waterloo both not being interested in the practice. Finally Woolwich Township are voting tomorrow evening and if they follow the staff recommendation then it is a done deal. Since when did the dog wag the tail? Apparently it's easier and less work for the staff if they don't have to handle paper ballots.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Amazingly there is almost no mention of the reasons why to put inmates into segregation. The usual excuses of for the inmate's own safety or the inmate is violent towards others aren't even mentioned. The only comment is that "...isolation is supposed to be a rare measure of last resort that needs to be justified in each and every case.". Unfortunately that apparently does not occur.
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carries the following article titled "Ombudsman slams jail segregation use". One of the main concerns in the report is the total lack of proper tracking as to who is and is not in isolation and furthermore how long they've been in isolation. It makes studying the practice and its' abuses nearly impossible when managers and supervisors either don't keep written records or aren't required to send them up the chain of command on a timely basis.
The most recent blatant and egregious case is in regards to an inmate named Adam Capay. Written records indicated he'd been in isolation for 50 days when in fact he'd been in isolation for 1,591 days. I hope that he and or his lawyer sue the province for millions of dollars which among other things will go towards whatever mental health expenditures are required. Isolation can have "...grave and lasting effects on a person's mental state.". This is not the way to "rehabillatate" offenders.
Friday, April 21, 2017
So it seems we have the worst of all worlds. In the U.S. education is chronically underfunded. Teachers are disrespected and underpaid. Geez I'd love to send a few of our overentitled, unappreciative teachers to the U.S. for about a year. They might actually appreciate what they've got here when they got back. Meanwhile Ontario has increased spending per student by 47% between 2005 and 2018 and Waterloo Region schools are falling behind other Ontario jurisdictions in both graduation rates and English literacy and math.
Yesterday's posting talked about the Trustee system and how it's often used as nothing more than a political springboard. This is so true locally with most just going on to Regional or municipal Councils. Others get into provincial or federal politics. Certainly I believe that pro status quo Trustees have contributed to the problem. That problem is a system looking inwards. It's all about teachers, the union, staff and administration wages, benefits and perks. Students and parents come dead last. And the results of decades of this speak for themselves here in Waterloo. Hello to you Cecil, Jim, Howard and all the past filth on the WRDSB. The Waterloo Region Record article dated April 19/17 is titled "Money alone doesn't educate".
Thursday, April 20, 2017
It's a pessimistic outlook but it is shared amongst those who are seriously observing and thinking. Steve Kannon in today's Woolwich Observer gives us his thoughts on the matter of democracy with his Editor's Notes titled "U.S. politics have been dumbed down, but we have plenty of concerns here too".
There are diminihed expectations about the role of government according to Steve. Government is reduced to managerial functions. The economy seems to be about reducing services and costs while taxes continue to rise. Deregulation of industry and corporations expands while the financial industry sets the agenda. Citizenship is dumbed down to passive observation with occasional trips to the polling stations to vote for the name or face we like.
While Steve, appropriately in my opinion, criticizes corporate America and Canada too, the reality is that citizens are both unattached and apathetic. We are essentially giving away the country. There are both private environmental and human and civil rights organizations who are resisting but the rest of us are drifting. It is not a good scenario and future generations will curse us for our benign neglect. The powerful and wealthy in the country couldn't be much happier about all of this. Perhaps TAG (Technical Advisory Group) here in Elmira, Ontario are a microcosm of all this. Keep bringing in new people while doing your best to marginalize those with knowledge and experience regarding the environmental mess caused by Chemtura Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Environment.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Well it certainly is illuminating to find out that it isn't just our local Waterloo Region District School Board that is so bad. Apparently school boards throughout Ontario have routinely been getting taken over by the provincial Ministry of Education. While at first blush it seems undemocratic to overule the elected trustees and tell them to step down in favour of a provincial superviser; in fact it sometimes isn't.
Today's Waterloo Region Record carries the following story titled "School board trustee job should be abolished", written by Martin Regg Cohn. Mr. Cohn raises two huge issues. The one is that so many trustees are simply about using their position as a springboard to higher office. In other words trying to make a living on the public purse. Apparently when you look at the number of dysfunctional school boards you begin to understand that their motives were not to improve education so much as to improve their electoral chances. You will also learn that the public really are hopeless at electing good people. It's all very superficial. What do the candidates look like and sound like? Are they photogenic with an honest looking face whatever that might happen to be?
The other issue is how quickly certain trustees jump on the gravy train. Would you believe taxpayer paid trips for trustees to New Zealand, Hawaii, Finland, Netherlands and Britain? What can those trustees possibly learn there that would make them better trustees here in Ontario? The answer is nothing. These are simple junkets and rewards for certain trustees who have done as they were told. Disgusting.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Today's Waterloo Region Record carries an Opinion piece from Luisa D'Amato titled "Read this and weep: The ugly truth about residential schools". It is a description from survivors at the residential school in Brantford, Ontario that closed in 1970. These schools forcibly took native children from their parents and put them into these schools to live and learn white ways versus Indian ways. The descriptions of the treatment of children are positively chilling and disgusting. Most importantly it was our government who committed cultural genocide and are culpable in the child abuse that occurred within those schools.
If there is one thing I've learned over the last thirty years it is that rarely does a whistleblower unearth something that the authorities don't already know. Usally illegal and improper activities are fully known and conveniently ignored by both local authorities as well as those higher up the food chain. They are ignored because somebody powerful wants them ignored. Here in Elmira it's all about either ignoring or covering up the extent of damage done by powerful polluters. I expect that there were persons involved in the residential schools with something to gain by hushing up conditions within these schools from 1870 until the very last one was closed in 1996. The coverup only lasted until those culpable were in the clear and gone.
Monday, April 10, 2017
The Waterloo Region Record carried this following story on March 30, 2017 titled "Prison term for bridge revenge plot". This story is in regards to the colossal traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge that was created intentionally. Aides to Republican governor Chris Christie were sentenced to prison for their part in closing lanes without any reason other than to create havoc for the democratic mayor in nearby Fort Lee because he refused to endorse Christie's reelection as governor. The two aides involved were sentenced on fraud and conspiracy charges. A third aide turned state's evidence and testified against the other two. And that folks is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tit for tat and political payback. Most of these politicians are sociopaths in their own right. The only surprising thing about this incident is that at least some of those responsible were convicted.
Friday, April 7, 2017
Last Monday here in the Advocate I posted about the Review recently completed into the three police oversight agencies in Ontario. I expressed some skepticism regarding the efficacy or real intent behind the review. That said today's Waterloo region record has an interesting story regarding one of the recommendations in the police oversight review. The title of today's story is "Call inquests whenever police kill someone through use of force: review".
The Special Investigations Unit has been criticized in the past for hiring ex-police officers as SIU investigators. Also they have been criticized for their penchant for secrecy. They do not report publicly into their investigations of police officers who have been involved in killings, serious injuries and or been the subject of sexual assaults.
This article lists many serious failings and weaknesses in the current system and begs the question why it has taken so long just to get to the discussion stage.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Last Friday's Waterloo-Region Record published an article by academics from their respective Sociology departments at the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph. They are examining the promises recently made to make the criminal justice system faster and fairer. Their conclusion is that one reform namely to make bail faster may occur but as far as making it fairer, that is unlikely. They find that the biggest obstacle and problem lies in numerous conditions, irrelevant to the offence, that are set by the courts in order for the accused to receive bail. These conditions include curfews, sureties and other frankly unrelated and irrelevant to the offence conditions demanded by Crown Attorneys. Justice's of the Peace must also think carefully as to whether demanded conditions are necessary or relevant to ensure an accused's appearance in court.
The title of the article is "Reforms may make bail faster, but will it be more fair?".
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Yesterday's Waterloo Region Record carried this story titled "Family speaks out against police violence". The family of Beau Baker, shot to death by police two years ago outside his apartment in Kitchener, have referred to excessive police violence. It's hard to disagree in many cases around Ontario.
Police officers are supposed to be trained to protect themselves and the public. Besides guns they also carry batons, pepper spray and sometimes Tasers or stun guns. The use of non-lethal methods to disarm or stop criminal behaviour should be the first method most especially when the allegedly threatening individual does not have a firearm. It does kind of make you wonder how the British police have done it so well for so long without firearms. It's almost as if there is a reticence in Britain to have state sanctioned individuals killing unarmed citizens. Almost like a moral high ground that is missing in North America.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
It's all about appearances, not reality. In other words if you can fool 80% of the people into believing such and such an investigative body is "independent" than that is good enough. In this case it's all about Canada's military Ombudsman. He is supposed to helping military personnel by holding the Defence Department to account. It turns out that they don't much like being held accountable.
The Waterloo Region Record story is titled "Ombudsman accuses Defence Department of "insidious attacks". Apparently whenever he challenges the Departmernt to treat military personnel better or releases a report criticizing the defence department, the next thing he knows they are throwing up administrative roadblocks for his department, including financial ones. Very classy Dep't of Defence.
The solution that Gary Walbourne is proposing is that he report directly to Parliament. Currently he is suggesting that the Minister of defence's responses are "nebulous" at best.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Basically it's been a joke. For a very long time. They do what they want to do and normally they do it with the co-operation and benign oversight of local police boards and municipal councils. Afterall how many local politicians are poor or marginalized ? How many are likely to get into trouble with the law when they can buy they way out of trouble? Today's Waterloo Region Record carries the following story titled "Report aimed at enhanced civilian oversight of Ontario police out this week".
Interestingly there were 1,500 individuals speaking at 18 public consultations. Justice Michael Tulloch also held 130 private meetings. Really and who were those with pray tell? Immediately after this statement in the story it is mentioned that Police Associations, police commissioners, and police services board members all weighed in on Ontario's three police-oversight agencies. Were these the 130 private meetings? If so then let me get this straight. Private citizens had to speak publicly about their experiences yet the vested interests in the status quo got to speak privately with the Judge heading the government-commissioned review of the three agencies that oversee policing in Ontario?
People at public meetings were highly critical of the so called transparency and accountability of the SIU, OPIRD and the OCPC. One speaker at a public meeting in Toronto last fall stated that "we think they are all useless.". Well that certainly is a blunt assessment. I guess my question is whether this review is supposed to reform these police oversight agencies or is it simply another government whitewash and public relations project to attempt to restore credibility and confidence in government bodies.
Saturday, April 1, 2017
Really do they or anybody else think that the RCMP have a sliver of credibility left? Their dirty linen just keeps on getting exposed for the world to see. There was a time when being a Mountie meant something. It still does but now it's more about being corrupt, power hungry and egotistical at the top. It's about discriminating against their own employees especially if they are female. Their internal disciplinary and self-regulatory mechanisms are badly broken.
In yesterday's Waterloo Region Record is yet another article describing a judge's decision that the RCMP egregiously harassed over a period of time one of their employees. The title is "Sergeant harassment ruling faulty: RCMP". The judge bluntly castigates the RCMP for their "flagrant and egregious" conduct. The judge further describes their conduct as outrageous and harassing. Wow!
Now keep in mind that I personally know that some judges can be complete assholes. RR in Kitchener is one of them. The problem in this case is that the judge is commenting on an institution with a decades long history of exactly this kind of behaviour. Maybe they truly are innocent in this case. Who the hell is going to believe them however? Ahh yes they have a ton of taxpayer money available to spend trying to get the Ontario Court of Appeal to overturn this decision against them. That's about all it takes with our justice system is a ton of money. Even better when it's not your own but rather taxpayers' money to defend yourself.