Human Rights

The ‘right’ to cannabis in housing

October 25th, 2018 by Claudia Pedrero

This article was first published on rabble.ca

With the arrival of legal cannabis last week, Canadians are now free to consume and — in some provinces — cultivate cannabis at home. This new freedom has come with many questions around the extent to which governments and property owners can restrict consumption. Does cannabis legalization mean that people have a protected right to smoke and grow cannabis? What about rules that seek to limit this freedom?

These questions cropped up in human rights cases across the country once medical cannabis became legal. With the legalization of cannabis, it is worth looking at how restrictions on recreational cannabis interact with the obligations of service providers such as landlords to accommodate medical cannabis users.

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Striking a Balance: The Case of the Guide Dog and the Taxicab

October 3rd, 2018 by Brynn Leger

What do you do when human rights of one person compete with another’s? Employers, housing providers, and other public service providers have a duty to accommodate those with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code). Sometimes, however, these obligations lead to conflict between multiple people in need of accommodation. An example of this that has been felt by housing providers and employers is the tension between persons with service animals and other persons with allergies. Some people in need of accommodation rely on service animals to assist them. But people suffering from allergies to dogs can’t be expected to live and work in an environment that does not accommodate their needs. How does an employer or a housing provider address these competing obligations to accommodate these persons in a fair manner that complies with the Code? Read the rest of this entry

Police technology vs. civil liberties — science fiction or current reality?

September 27th, 2018 by Michael Hackl

I enjoy reading science fiction, especially when it considers humanity’s struggle to deal with new technologies. Often these stories present a cautionary tale about how new technologies can be misused to oppress people. This idea of science fiction as cautionary tales was summed up by author Ray Bradbury, who wrote: “The function of science fiction is not only to predict the future, but to prevent it.”

One of my favourite science fiction writers is Philip K. Dick, who wrote a number of these cautionary tales. One of them, “The Minority Report” (which you may know instead as a Tom Cruise movie — the short story is better) presented a future where police did not investigate crimes that had occurred; instead, the “PreCrime” unit stops crimes before they occur, based on predictions from precognitive mutants.

Reality imitates fiction

So imagine my surprise when I came upon an article discussing police use of a computer program called PredPol (short for predictive policing) to identify areas that are more likely to experience crimes and to direct police resources to those areas. Read the rest of this entry

Legalization of Cannabis: Important Considerations for Housing Providers & Employers

September 14th, 2018 by Safia Lakhani

With the impending legalization of cannabis, we have received requests from a number of housing providers to assist in developing policies that deal with the use and growth of cannabis in units. We have also received requests from employers around policies that prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace. While policies should be crafted to suit a particular workplace or residence, below are a few considerations that employers and housing providers should bear in mind when creating rules around cannabis: Read the rest of this entry

Freeze on overdose prevention sites engages Charter rights

August 30th, 2018 by Brynn Leger

This article was first published on rabble.ca

On August 10, 2018, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long‑Term Care announced a freeze on new overdose prevention sites (OPS) in the province. The freeze was effectively immediately, meaning it has impacted three OPS slated to open in Thunder Bay, St. Catharines and Toronto.

A new OPS in Toronto was scheduled to open on August 13, 2018 in the city’s Parkdale neighbourhood, just days after the freeze. Activists, organizers and members of the community were outraged by the news, especially in light of a safety warning issued by Toronto Police on August 14, 2018 about a spike in overdose deaths. The opioid crisis is a national public health emergency, and the Government of Canada supports supervised consumption sites, including OPS, as part of its national strategy to address the crisis.

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Inquiring into international human rights abuses: To what end?

May 31st, 2018 by Safia Lakhani

This article was first published on rabble.ca

2018 marks 70 years since the establishment of the state of Israel and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in what is known as the “nakba,” or, disaster. This was also the year that the United States decided to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking demonstrations in the occupied territories. On May 14, 2018, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians, killing some 59 individuals and injuring over 2,700 others, including a Canadian medic who was treating protesters. The bloodshed has been described as the most violent in the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict since the war on Gaza in 2014. Two days later, Prime Minister Trudeau called for an independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground — including any incitement, violence, and the excessive use of force in Gaza. Read the rest of this entry