Proposed new removal “fees” are really fines and is deportation now punishment?

On January 5, 2021, the Canada border Services Agency publicized that they would be drastically increasing the so-called fees charged to those deported from the country.  Anyone deported would owe $3,250, regardless of how far they are actually travelling. Those who were escorted out of the country would be charged a blink-worthy $10,900.  Those who were detained in immigration detention would be charged $1,300.  Currently, Canada charges $750 for those deported to the United States and St. Pierre and Miquelon […]

If police delay roadside screening, you are wrongly detained

On November 24, 2020, Judge Dianne L. McGrath of the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia made an important decision in a DUI case which further supports liberty and protection against arbitrary searches under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  In the case, Devyn Garland was found not guilty of failing to provide a breath sample.  The case was really about this principle:  if you are stopped by police for a roadside impairment test, they have to do the test […]

Rao should never have been charged: screening out racial profiling

Santina Rao finally had her charges of assault of a peace officer, resisting arrest and causing a disturbance dropped on July 7, 2020. Finally. This happened six months after she was racially profiled by Walmart security, falsely accused of shoplifting, then violently arrested by Halifax Regional Police after they interrogated her for her identification and other information, all in front of her two young children.

Disarming the police to save lives

Tens of thousands of people have hit the streets across the county in response to the horrific choking death of George Floyd by the knee of Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, Toronto police involvement in the death of Black-Indigenous woman Regis Korchinski and so many other racialized people who have been the victim of disproportionate killing by police.  There is a strong push for systemic change and calls to defund and disarm the police and to give the money to […]

Evictions during pandemic should be seen as forced and unlawful

The impending end to the provincial moratorium on residential evictions of those with incomes affected by COVID-19 is coming on June 30, placing many tenants on the edge.  More broadly, all residential evictions during the pandemic are problematic as everyone needs a place to “stay the blazes home”.  Any evictions at this time should be considered forced evictions, and violations of the right to housing under international law pursuant to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), […]

COVID-19 Provincial and municipal park ban in Nova Scotia unjustifiably treads on liberty rights

Public parks are essential public spaces.  In ordinary times, they are places where people gather, play with kids, walk and play with dogs, play games with friends and strangers in the community, run, bike and express themselves.  They are crucial spaces for community cohesion.  But these are not ordinary times.  People cannot gather in groups of more than five, and cannot come closer than two metres to each other.  Some people are not allowed out at all due to self-isolation […]

Suspended evictions and income supports fail to address vulnerability of working people

Before COVID, there was already an affordable housing crisis, poor wages relative to the costs of living and multitudes of working people with no savings and a single paycheque or less from living on the streets.  Government supports during the pandemic fall far short and without action, there will be major crisis of housing insecurity and homelessness. Housing is not currently a right protected under any provincial or national law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  What the […]

Racial Profiling at Walmart: the case of Santina Rao

On the morning of February 19, 2020, Santina Rao will be in the Halifax provincial court for charges arising out of her arrest at Walmart on January 15, 2020, which many – including me – see as the result of racial profiling.  The proceedings continue despite public pressure on the Crown to drop the charges, including a petition signed by approximately 6,000 at last count. What happened to Rao case raises a number of issues, including human rights, culpability of […]

Public interest and climate justice protests

As another climate strike date approaches on November 29, 2019. There will be people taking to the streets and there is always the possibility of disruptive actions to create more pressure.   It is notable that the climate justice movement’s unrelenting action appears to be  creating a new normal.  On November 18, 2019, the Crown dropped mischief charges against 20 people who were arrested as part of the Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests in Toronto, which non-violently, and temporarily, occupied and […]

Ontario Legal Aid Cuts: class warfare

Legal aid is necessary because legal services cost money, and not everyone can afford them. Lives and fundamental rights to security of the person are often on the line when facing legal challenges. Our legal system doesn’t work for the poor and working poor of society. Recent cuts to Legal Aid  Ontario (LAO) represent a piece of a rotten whole and provides an opportunity to pose larger questions about access to justice beyond breadcrumbs. In this post, I will reflect […]