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Independent probe sought in heavy-handed intervention by Montreal subway inspectors

Independent probe sought in heavy-handed intervention by Montreal subway inspectorsMONTREAL — A Montreal man who was beaten by transit inspectors in a ticketing attempt captured on a bystander video this month broke his silence Tuesday, criticizing what he said was an excessive use of force.Juliano Gray said his troubles began on the evening of March 7 when he didn't pay his $3.25 transit fare and dribbled a ball on a subway car.Meeting with reporters at the offices of a civil rights organization that added its voice to calls for an independent inquiry into the incident, Gray admitted he didn't have a valid ticket and was playing with a soccer ball when he was stopped by inspectors.But he said he didn't deserve the repeated baton strikes that left him diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, among other injuries, and cost him his job as a dishwasher.In a now widely circulated video, the 21-year-old is seen being struck with batons by two subway inspectors on the platform of the Villa Maria station as they struggle to restrain him."That's when I understood it wasn't a typical arrest, it was a distortion," Gray said. "We didn't understand each other. I wasn't trying to make them look bad, and they were just trying to do their job, but it was brutal and excessive force."In the video, a metro train sounds its horn and Gray narrowly avoids striking his head against an oncoming train as he moves away from the baton-wielding inspectors.Gray described the incident as a misunderstanding — the inspectors thought he was trying to evade them when he got off a stop earlier than they had requested."I got off by mistake, and they thought I was trying to flee," Gray said, adding that after being struck several times, he decided to escape."I wasn't trying to run away from them, I was trying to run away from the pain," he said.He ran out of the station, leaving his possessions behind. He later collected them with the help of a lawyer from the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations.The Montreal Transit Corp. said it completed its investigation into the incident and concluded proper enforcement procedures were followed. "Our internal investigation showed us that our inspectors acted according to the standards and procedures put in place," spokeswoman Amelie Regis said.But the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations is calling for an independent probe, echoing calls last week by opposition city councillors and community activists who described the incident as an abuse of force and recommended the creation of a civilian oversight committee.Executive director Fo Niemi said his organization has met with witnesses who weren't interviewed by transit officials. His organization has written to the transit authority asking it to conserve all video evidence from that night. "It's important to have an independent, external investigation," he said.Niemi said Gray contacted his organization last week, and it is looking at how best to help him. He said a police investigation remains open and it wouldn't surprise him if Gray is charged in the affair.A Montreal police spokeswoman couldn't confirm if there was an open investigation.Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

Manitoba awareness campaign aims to stop sexual harassment of civil servants

Manitoba awareness campaign aims to stop sexual harassment of civil servantsWINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is undertaking a governmentwide awareness campaign to ensure employees aren't facing sexual harassment at work.The campaign includes six posters that explain to employees and supervisors what sexual harassment is and how to report it.The posters include messages discouraging people from making jokes or sending emails about sex or gender.Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women, says the government has also revised its respectful workplace policy by adding clearer definitions of what constitutes inappropriate behaviour.She says the policy also clarifies how reports of harassment are handled so employees know their concerns will be taken seriously.The Progressive Conservatives announced their commitment to foster a respectful workplace after female staff came forward in 2018 with allegations that a former NDP cabinet minister tickled and groped them.The women alleged that their complaints about Stan Struthers, who left politics in 2016, were never addressed.Backbencher Cliff Graydon was also kicked out of the Tory caucus last year after allegations he asked two female staff to sit on his lap and suggested another lick food off his face. Another woman alleged the member of the legislature groped her at a party function."It's sad that it has to be said, but harassment has no place in the workplace and every employee has the right to a workplace that is free of harassment," Squires said on Tuesday.The minister explained the latest updates to the respectful workplace policy provide clearer procedures for reporting and addressing harassment concerns. It also clarifies potential remedies and how those solutions will be monitored.Squires said each allegation will be investigated and responded to individually.A report released last August said hundreds of civil servants had experienced sexual harassment while working but most did not report it.The most frequent harassment included leering or invading space, but many others reported inappropriate physical contact such as touching, patting or pinching.After the Struthers allegations surfaced, the government implemented a "no wrong door" approach to reporting harassment, and has made it mandatory for managers to forward any complaints to the province's civil service commission.Squires said it is important people are aware of what actions and behaviours constitute harassment."What might have been dismissed as a colourful or off-putting joke a decade ago ... is sexual harassment," she said.The minister added she has been working with the house Speaker on a similar policy for the legislative assembly. She could not say when it might be implemented.Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Ottawa ordered to pay $20M for placing mentally ill inmates in solitary

Ottawa ordered to pay $20M for placing mentally ill inmates in solitaryAn Ontario judge has ordered the federal government to pay $20 million for placing mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement, with the money earmarked to boost mental health supports in correctional facilities.In a ruling issued this week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell said the Correctional Service of Canada violated the charter rights of thousands of inmates who filed a class-action lawsuit against the agency over its use of administrative segregation.Perell found those who were involuntarily placed in administrative segregation for more than 30 days, or voluntarily for more than 60, experienced a systemic breach of their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."The placement of a seriously mentally ill inmate in administrative segregation goes beyond what is necessary to achieve the genuine and legitimate aim of securing the safety of the institution," he wrote."It does not accord with public standards of decency or propriety in the treatment of a mentally ill inmate. It is also unnecessary because there could have been alternative ways less draconian than then equivalent of solitary confinement to address a security concern, and an indeterminate time to resolve a security concern cannot be justified."Those who were in segregation for less than 30 days can still make claims later in the case.Compensation for individual members of the class has also not yet been determined and submissions will be heard at a future date.The judge says the $20 million sum will go to "additional mental health or program resources" in the penal system as well as legal fees."For decades, academic research, commissions, inquiries, inquests, court cases, domestic and international organizations, and the correctional investigator have recommended that the Correctional Service change its policies and practices with respect to the treatment of seriously ill inmates placed in administrative segregation," Perell wrote in his ruling."The vindication of the class members' charter rights requires that the federal government be directed to do what it ought to have done for decades," he said."The funds are to remedy to the harm caused to society which has suffered from the Correctional Service's failure to comply with the charter and also its failure to comply with the spirit of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and its purpose of rehabilitating mentally ill inmates to return to society rather than worsening their capacity to do so by the harm caused by prolonged solitary confinement."The Correctional Service of Canada said it is reviewing the decision and declined to comment further.Administrative segregation is used to maintain security when inmates pose a risk to themselves or others and no reasonable alternative is available.The practice has faced legal challenges in Ontario and British Columbia, both of which found extended solitary confinement to be unconstitutional because of the absence of a meaningful review process.Ontario's top court has given Ottawa until April 30 to fix its solitary confinement law, while B.C.'s has extended the deadline to June 17.The government has pointed to Bill C-83, now before the Senate, which eliminates administrative segregation and replaces it with "structured intervention units" meant to emphasize "meaningful human contact" for inmates and improve their access to programs and services.However, the bill does not include hard caps on how many days or months inmates can be isolated from the general prison population, and civil liberties organizations have said it does not go far enough.Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Study says B.C.'s housing policies mean drug users can be targeted for eviction

Study says B.C.'s housing policies mean drug users can be targeted for evictionA new study says B.C. government policies are allowing landlords to evict drug users in Vancouver's rooming houses and there's little or no recourse for tenants to defend themselves against a practice that is often illegal and creates a risk of overdose. It says dispute resolution measures under the Residential Tenancy Act are often inaccessible, especially if tenants' belongings have been tossed out and they become homeless. The study, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, involved 50 low-income people living in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Court rejects lawyer's bid to save dangerous pit bull from euthanasia

Court rejects lawyer's bid to save dangerous pit bull from euthanasiaA legal bid to save a pit bull-type dog from euthanasia after it attacked six people, including four children, in Montreal last August has been rejected. Lawyer Anne-France Goldwater argued in court last week the section of a municipal bylaw declaring a dog must be euthanized once declared dangerous contravenes provincial animal welfare legislation.

Tuesday 26th of March 2019 09:39:28


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