Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Mayor is confused. This should be a Heritage Minute.

Wow, Rob Ford. Just, wow.

This is the most recent headline in Ford's continuous responding to the horrible shootings in the city:

I think I might be more confused that Ford is at this point. I don't even really know where to start, so I guess I'll just start at the beginning. Rob Ford announced his intention to explore the option of "banishing" convicted gang members from Toronto all together. This is very, very puzzling for many different reasons.

Immigration Laws. I'm not a legal expert by any means, but, immigration laws (by definition) deal with immigration and refugees. Canada regulates immigration under the umbrella of several "Acts" and "policy" including The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Citizenship Act and Regulations, and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. Generally speaking, immigration and refugee matters are not automatically considered criminal matters. For instances of "crime" we have what is called the Canadian Criminal Code.

The Canadian Criminal Code,or (in terms Rob Ford can understand) Crime Laws. In Canada we have a Criminal Code, with "codifies" not only criminal offences in Canada but also the procedures to which the criminal justice system should adhere to. This is a handy code and it outlines for us criminal behaviour as well as punishment for criminal behaviours. Immigraton law is generally not included in the Criminal Code of Canada unless an immigrant breaks the law, however, things related to gang violence often are. One of the nice things about "justice" in Canada is that if you break the law and are caught, you will be penalized accordingly and after serving a sentence, fulfilling community service, or paying your fine you are no longer penalized(unless you are a dangerous offender or a sex-offender in which case your movements are monitored and the community you reside in are warned of your presence). Obviously this is theoretical, and we understand that the criminal justice system is not perfect and operates within the confines of human behaviour which includes racism, sexism, classism, stereotyping, discrimination, and all of those fun things that come with being part of this society. But, generally speaking, crimes belong to the Criminal Code, because other laws deal with with mainly procedure and definitions. 

Using Immigration Laws to deal with convicted gang members is not possible in Canada unless the gang member is an immigrant, a refugee, or an illegal. Even then, the Immigration Laws of Canada wouldn't be used to penalize (because that's what the Criminal Code is for). Immigration Law would more likely be used to ensure the proper procedures are followed and that the proper definitions are applied to the peoples in question. If an immigrant breaks the law in Canada, they're subject to the Canadian Criminal Code. It's really as simple as that.

To "banish" gang members from Toronto one would have to amend the Criminal Code to include "banishment" as a proper and allowable punishment for a crime. Considering our societal understanding of crime and punishment is that you do "your time" for a crime and then re-enter society with no lingering penalty, this seems like a very bizarre fantasy. I'm at a loss to understand how a politician doesn't understand not only the difference between Immigration laws and the Criminal Code of Canada, but also doesn't understand the process or procedure around amending laws. As well, that the Mayor of the largest city in Canada doesn't seem to grasp that Canadians have been guaranteed certain rights(whether or not these rights are always adhered to is, of course, a different debate). 

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms outlines our rights as Canadians. Assuming that ``gang members`` are Canadians, they are also entitled to these rights. This includes Mobility Rights, the right to live anywhere in Canada. This also includes the right to be excluded from any cruel or unusual punishment if you are convicted of a crime.
In Canada we don`t currently use exile or banishment as a form of punishment, formally. In some instances, parole may entail that a person has to stay in a certain area but this usually isn't for the remainder of their lives. Sex offenders aren't supposed to live within a certain range of places where children or vulnerable people may live or congregate. So that would make banishment not only a very bizarre departure from how we as a society view punishment, but also it could be considered cruel or unusual.

Anyways, these are just logistics. I mean, they`re only how we structure our nation legally. What I find equally mind blowing is that Rob Ford wants to banish gang members to other municipalities. WHERE? To the Island of Misfit Toys? To Guantanamo Bay? To Amish Country? Is there a town somewhere that's like "send us your convicts!" No. There isn't. This is because every town, village, city, and municipality has their own convicts and they probably won't appreciate Toronto shipping theirs off to become someone else's issue. It's kind of just plain rude. 

By Ford's logic(I think, trying to understand what he means is a bit.. difficult)he wants to "use" immigration law to control the "migration" of criminals. What he doesn't seem to understand is that this does not fall under the purview of immigration law as we know it in Canada.  So.. does he wants to banish them to somewhere unpopulated? Or, to some kind of camp? It's all very bewildering and I'm not really quite sure how a grown man who is supposed to be charge of a City and understand politics can recover from this. He doesn't have a basic understanding of Canadian laws, policy, or procedure and that should probably be something one acquires after years and years of earning tax payer dollars.

As I wrote earlier today, I just really feel like Rob Ford is picturing a Hunger Games scenario in his brain and he's too afraid to just come out and say it. Unfortunately for Ford, this is "real life" and we have to abide by the "Laws" in place

Next thing we know we'll catch our Mayor engaged in some kind of otherworldy ritual, trying to banish evil from his city, and save us all from those "thugs." 

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