Posts Tagged ‘rabble.ca’

Federal government should prioritize moving MAID back up its legislative agenda

June 25th, 2020 by Celia Chandler

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Think back.

March 13, 2020.

While many of us moved our offices to our homes, scrambled to figure out how to school our children, fought for scarce toilet paper and Lysol, and started to get used to a completely different way of living, the government released its “What We Heard Report A Public Consultations on Medical Assistance in Dying.” The report resulted from a 14 day window in January when Canadians commented online about the medical assistance in dying law in Canada (called MAID).

Regular rabble.ca readers will know that I wrote a three-part series about the legalization of MAID and its implementation from my first-hand experience: my husband, Jack, died with medical assistance in November 2018.

The federal government legalized MAID in 2016. You’ll know from my account and those of many others, that the MAID law is not without its critics because of those excluded from the legislation: mature minors; those wanting to make “advance requests”; those whose only medical condition is mental illness; and those with physical illness but for whom death is not reasonably foreseeable. The Council of Canadian Academies has studied and reported on the first three of these issues.

Continue reading “Federal government should prioritize moving MAID back up its legislative agenda”

Defining ‘urgent’ in the global pandemic

May 1st, 2020 by Karly Wilson

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Seven weeks ago, we rolled our eyes when an email was labelled “Urgent.” It felt like a term thrown around too often, and with little meaning or weight. Like new alerts popping up on cell phones, there didn’t seem to be enough discernment about what was and was not worthy of panic and alarm.

Now, everything is urgent. There is an urgent need for medical supplies, for funding, for mental health support, for employment insurance reform, for a vaccine, for a cure. This has created an awkward and noticeable push to fill needs that social justice advocates have always considered urgent, but are suddenly (urgently!) gaining widespread support.

Individuals with disabilities, long having been told that their needs are too big to accommodate, are watching mass support roll out to assist the workforce. Advocates for a universal basic income are watching as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is instituted in a matter of weeks. At our firm, a large part of our practice focuses on supporting affordable housing initiatives, and we too have watched as our city (Toronto) has suddenly been at the forefront of creating new housing solutions for individuals experiencing homelessness.

In short, we are seeing concerns long considered urgent to finally be met with a sense of … well … urgency. Continue reading “Defining ‘urgent’ in the global pandemic”

Clearer rules needed for facial recognition technology

February 28th, 2020 by Michael Hackl

A version of this article was first published on rabble.ca

In a previous column, I wrote about the dangers that some police technology poses for civil liberties. In that column, I addressed police use of a computer program that claims to identify geographic areas that are more likely to experience crimes in order to direct police resources to those areas. Now, with Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders’ recent admission that some officers in the Toronto Police Service have been using a piece of facial recognition software called Clearview AI (named for the company that developed the software) since at least October 2019, we have another example of how law enforcement can use technology in a way that seriously threatens our civil liberties.

Clearview AI has apparently mined the internet for billions of photos of people, largely from social media sites and the open web, whereas other companies providing facial recognition technology to police rely upon government sources such as mugshots and driver’s license photos. Continue reading “Clearer rules needed for facial recognition technology”

A constitutional cop‑out: Federal government passes the buck on conversion therapy

April 1st, 2019 by Michael Hackl

This article was first published on rabble.ca

The federal government missed an opportunity to introduce a significant protection for the LGBTQ community by failing to take steps to ban conversion therapy (the discredited practice of trying to convert individuals with non-heterosexual sexual orientations to heterosexuality under the guise of therapy). Instead, in its response to a petition calling for a ban on conversion therapy the federal government passed the buck to the provinces and territories.

The petition and the government’s response

On February 1, NDP MP Sheri Benson presented a petition to the House of Commons seeking a ban on conversion therapy, with a focus on protecting minors. The petition pointed out that organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Canadian Psychological Association have issued statements indicating that the practice is not supported by scientific research, lacks medical justification, and rather than providing assistance to affected individuals, can have significant adverse effects on their mental and physical health.

Continue reading “A constitutional cop‑out: Federal government passes the buck on conversion therapy”

Medically assisted death in Canada: Reflections on the process

January 31st, 2019 by Celia Chandler

Celia Chandler with her partner Jack Sikorski in 2018. Photo: Kate O’Connor/Sweetheart Empire

Iler Campbell’s Pro Bono column for rabble.ca (where this article was first published in three parts) is no stranger to the issue of medical assistance in death (MAID). We have contributed to the discussion a number of times in the last four years.

What is new is that I can now provide a firsthand account of a medically assisted death. At 6 p.m. on Monday, November 19, 2018, surrounded by his closest family, my husband, Jack Sikorski, consented to a medically assisted death. Jack’s cancer had progressed and his quality of life was greatly diminished; he was grateful for the choice to prevent further suffering and die on his own terms, as he had lived. And I am profoundly grateful, too.

Continue reading “Medically assisted death in Canada: Reflections on the process”

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. Continue reading “Police technology vs. civil liberties — science fiction or current reality?”