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A Smiling Trudeau Fails First Nations Children 

Wapekeka, an isolated community in Northern Ontario, has declared a state of emergency after the third suicide of a child since January. “Nearly 40 young people from the community are currently considered to be at risk of suicide; that represents about 10 per cent of the population of Wapekeka.”
 
The community had first sought funding from the federal government to deal with the mental health crisis in September of 2016.

“That's an "awkward time" in the federal funding cycle when all the available money has already been allocated, said Keith Conn, the regional executive for Ontario with the First Nation and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada. … "We just didn't have the funding to support the program," he told CBC News. "We don't have necessarily a flexible fund that we hold back for different projects." It was only after two children died that the bureaucrats managed to pull together some funds for assistance.
 
This is not an isolated incident. The Trudeau government has faced several rulings from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which have all found that the federal government has failed to uphold its legal duty to apply Jordan’s Principle.

Jordan's Principle* requires that the federal or provincial government of first contact provide government services to First Nations children without regard to jurisdictional funding disputes. It is a child-first policy, which seeks to ensure that all First Nations children (not just those on reserves) receive the services they need, within 12 to 48 hours, by minimizing endless bureaucratic squabbles and “conferencing”.
 
Last month, the Tribunal stated that if the Federal government had complied with the Jordan’s Principle process, two children in Wapekeka might have lived. But, like the Harper government before them, Trudeau’s ministers have announced they will dispute the ruling.
 
CBC reports: “In a joint statement, Health Minister Jane Philpott and Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said the government's plan to seek clarification in court is informed by their "experience and expertise as doctors." ...
In most cases, the government can adhere to this timeline if it is addressing a life-threatening matter, Philpott said, adding there are occasional circumstances that arise where a "rapid decision" may not be the right one.
"We are asking for a review just to make sure they understand the implications of what they decided and we are concerned it may not in fact be best for kids," Philpott said in an interview.
The federal government is also concerned about the tribunal stipulation that it cannot use case conferences, she said.
"We are concerned that it may not be in the best interests of kids," Philpott said.”

 
I like to imagine that in those few cases where extra time is needed to make decisions in the best interest of the children, bureaucrats wouldn’t need a court decision to tell them that they could just take more time, because they would already be working IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN AT ALL TIMES. Does the Trudeau government really need to add to the $700000 bill it has accrued since January 2016 fighting  the spirit and intent of Jordan’s Principle, which is to assist all First Nations children to the best of our governments’ abilities?
 
As we celebrate the symbolism of a smiling Trudeau wearing rainbow Ramadan socks while #Canada150 celebrations reach their peak, let us also contemplate the symbolism of his government’s decision to challenge a ruling which aims to safeguard the lives of First Nations children.
 
*The Toronto Star explains: ”Jordan’s Principle is named after Jordan Anderson, a five-year-old boy who died in hospital in 2005 while Ottawa and Manitoba squabbled over which government should cover the medical costs of moving him to foster care. Such disputes are disturbingly common and have contributed to a persistent inequity in the provision of child-welfare services to First Nations communities, where the need is often greatest. Jordan’s Principle seeks to redress this injustice.”
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Our Take on the Polaris Long List

The Long List for the Polaris Music Prize 2017 was recently announced. The prestigious award goes to the best album by a Canadian artist released between June 1, 2016 and May 31, 2017. Previous winners include Kaytranada, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Arcade Fire. The Short List, consisting of just ten albums, will be announced on July 13th.
 
Over the course of the next month, we’re going to try to listen to every album on the Long List, and provide a few thoughts and recommendations. On the week of July 13th, we’ll provide our top 10 albums, and predict who will take the grand prize. 
 
(If you’d like to contribute a small review of an album on this list, send it our way and we’ll feature it in next week’s newsletter). 
 


Japandroids — Near To The Wild Heart Of Life
 
Near To The Wild Heart Of Life will certainly appeal to what has to be a rapidly shrinking demographic of pop-punk fans. The Vancouver-based duo’s third album is not much of a departure from their previous outings — in fact, upon first listen it sounds essentially identical to 2012’s Celebration Rock. There are some solid songs, notably the title track. Unfortunately, the Japandroid formula — loud, triumphant high-tempo tracks featuring heavily distorted guitar and various versions of the ‘millennial whoop’ — quickly becomes tiresome.
 
Perhaps this goes against the punk ethos, but I think a good album requires some sort of dynamic range, if not emotionally then at least musically. Japandroids accomplished this on their first album, Post-Nothing, on which 30 minutes of frantic music is brought to an abrupt end by a cathartic closing track, the jarring and burnt out “I Quit Girls”. On Wild Heart, they come close to something like this with “No Known Drink or Drug”, though the slight nod to emo sentiment cannot prevent the listener from feeling like the entire record has been put through a high-powered DRC.
 
 
Charlotte Day Wilson - CDW
Charlotte Day Wilson - Work (Official Video)
CDW opens and closes with soundscapes that are reminiscent of something Julianna Barwick might put together. Luckily, they’re not representative of the rest of this short album, which is some kind of smooth R&B or jazz (although she says: “it’s a bit annoying to be grouped into the moody, centralist R&B category. I know that’s not what I’m trying to do.”). Every reviewer links her to Sade, if that reference is helpful. Regardless, Charlotte Day Wilson has a beautiful, low, breathy voice that fits the slow jams she favours.
 
It’s impressive that she’s taken such full control of her production while only 24, and is openly committed to being an independent, queer, female artist. Her music video for ‘Work’ is worth a watch, a political statement but a subtly beautiful one - the song itself is something you can imagine appearing at the end of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, which isn’t inherently bad, but also means that it is best listened to in the right mood.
 
In general this is an album you should listen to with a good set of headphones, on a rainy day or in late evening, while willing to get emotional. Although, now that I think about it, I could also imagine incorporating this into a dinner party playlist (à la Norah Jones). It’s a nice album, but I feel like Wilson has better music ahead of her.
 
Carly Rae Jepsen - E*MO*TION Side B
 

I really like Carly Rae Jepsen, and if I need a quick pop hit, she’s better than Katy Perry. She creates unapologetic and undeniably perfect pop music, except for how she doesn’t seem to ever sell any records. Maybe because it’s too perfect? Elysian pop music? Is that a thing?
 
Fair warning to non-pop lovers: this album is so overwhelmingly pop that you should spare yourself and only listen to one song at a time. But what songs they are. I think my favourite is ‘Store’. She’s laying there in bed, has the realization that this relationship is done, and tells the poor guy next to her she’s just going to the store… but he never sees her again. I mean isn’t that how it works sometimes; that white lie of we’ll talk tomorrow or see you next week or when I get back from [insert European country here], and then… it’s done. You never see their face again.
 
Pop music critics have written paragraph after paragraph about the clever production/hooks/musical nods to the lyrics that turn each of these songs into perfect pop confections, but presumably if you care about that kind of thing you will have already listened to this album. My prediction: this is a token nomination that won’t make the short list. Wouldn’t it be a bit embarrassing to have nominated her previously and then only give her the award for B sides?

BADBADNOTGOOD -
IV
 
If you like jazz, maybe you will like this album. If you already like BADBADNOTGOOD, then you will like that this album does not just consist of not covers and collaborations with hip hop artists, but is instead originals and collaborations with hip hop and R&B artists. A friend tells me this album is “a vast improvement” over past BBNG.
 
To me, it sounded fairly indistinguishable from other jazz albums, except that it features names like KAYTRANADA and Sam Herring (of Future Islands). Have I already heard it on Tim Tamashiro’s CBC Radio 2 show Tonic? Probably, but I would never remember.
 
A quick google search suggests that Pitchfork sort of liked IV, and The Guardian says BBNG is “maybe the spikiest thing to come out of Toronto since the CN Tower.” Errr… agree to disagree.  
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Canada Tries Going It Alone 


Max Fisher recently penned an article for his ‘The Interpreter’ column in The New York Times that examined Canada’s response to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, and how it was attempting to fight back against protectionist sentiments that have moved into the White House.
 
It’s an interesting column, which may be ‘new’ to readers in the United States, but extensively covered here in Canada for many months (in fact, Sean Craig of Global News goes through the piece paragraph by paragraph to debunk Fisher’s claim that Canada’s reorientation under Trump hasn’t received much coverage).
 
Over the past month, the Canadian government has gone further in its efforts to reposition itself internationally in the Trump era and beyond. Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan both made major speeches in the House of Commons that significantly redefined Canada’s foreign and military policy. The unifying theme in both speeches was that Canada can no longer rely on the United States as a bedrock for its foreign policy, working together with the superpower to obtain policy objectives abroad. Canada will have to chart its own path.
 
It’s not only the federal government that’s reevaluating its relationship with the United States. Recent polling has found that a majority of Canadians have an unfavourable view towards our neighbours to the south, which represents the first time that this has happened in over 35 years.  
 
It’s impossible to predict with accuracy how things will turn out in four years time, but if the Liberals follow through on the vision articulated by Minister Freeland and Minister Sajjan, Canada is embarking on an unfamiliar trajectory in a brave new world.
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Figuring Out the Internet

Legislatures and courts in Canada have difficulties figuring out how to regulate the Internet. The last decade has seen a number of foundational legal concepts around defamation, copyright, contract law, and other such issues overturned because they just don’t work in the digital context. In many cases, these legal concepts have been around for centuries, only to be disregarded because it was being applied online (politicians and judges in this country are not known for overhauling laws and legal approaches on a whim, so that should provide insight into the legal-regulatory challenges the Internet has created).
 
Two recent landmark cases that demonstrate the challenges around regulating aspects of the Internet involve Facebook and Google. Just last week, the Supreme Court of Canada released Douez v Facebook, Inc., which involves a class-action alleging that Facebook’s privacy settings breach privacy legislation in British Columbia. Facebook denies the charge, but fought all the way to the highest court in Canada to argue that the woman bringing the lawsuit could not sue the company in Canada. According to the terms of use agreement that she agreed to, and which all Facebook users have to agree to when they sign up to use the platform, all lawsuits against it must be started in California.
 
Fortunately, the Supreme Court of Canada determined that this aspect of the terms of use was not enforceable, overturning established precedence on clauses of this nature and contract law. The reason being the unequal bargaining power between users of Facebook and Facebook itself, which means that users didn’t have a real choice but to agree the clause. Contracts require parties to enter them freely, with each term the result of (relatively) fair bargaining and agreement between them. In addition, the lawsuit involved privacy rights, which have quasi-constitutional status in Canada; rights that are foundational for individuals to participate in our democracy. Obviously, Canadian courts have a stronger interest in adjudicating these sorts of cases than courts in California.

Together, these reasons led a majority of the Court to find that the portion of Facebook’s terms of service requiring parties to sue the company in California to be unlawful. Douez can sue Facebook in British Columbia. However, only 4 of the 7 Justices on the Supreme Court of Canada agreed with this result, with the 3 remaining, including the Chief Justice of Canada, siding with Facebook, believing that established norms around contract law clearly made the provision enforceable. And, as a result, foundational concepts of contract law are no longer applicable in Canada when it comes to online terms of service agreements (here’s an overview of the case by Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa).
 
The other case concerns Google v Equustek, et al, and is another appeal from British Columbia heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. This decision drops today at around 9:30 AM EST. I acted for an intervener in the appeal, and will likely be in a media lock-up as you’re reading this, trying to frantically figure out what it means before it’s released to the public.
 
For free expression advocates, this appeal is extremely important. It specifically deals with the circumstances under which a Canadian court can order a search engine to delist a website from its results. However, on a broader level, it concerns how expression can be regulated online, and whether the Internet should be a protected medium of expression in Canada, similar to the press or picketing (fingers crossed that it is).
 
My co-counsel wrote this fantastic overview of the hearing, and here is a piece chronicling the stakes. Finally, here’s a piece I wrote arguing that Canada should provide constitutional recognition to the Internet under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (an argument that formed the basis for OpenMedia’s submissions to the Supreme Court of Canada).
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The Week's Links


The Globe and Mail have this brilliant interactive guide on income and class mobility in Canada, which uses data from Statistic Canada to look into the areas in the country where there is greater income and class mobility between generations, and the potential factors. It also provides specific insight on the trends within rural, Indigenous, immigrant, and other communities. This epitomizes the best of journalism in the era of big data.
 
The EU has fined Google a record 2.4 billion euros for failure to give small price-comparison services equal treatment in order to promote its own Google Shopping ads. The company has 60 days to solve the problem. This is likely the first of several EU antitrust fines to be levied against Google.
 
Aziz Ansari on Why Trump makes him scared for his family takes another look at the growing xenophobic rhetoric that’s ramping up in the U.S.

How the Canadian media normalizes Islamophobia

Jason Tebbe on “Twenty-First Century Victorians”: “Today, spin classes, artisanal food, and the college application process have replaced Sunday promenades, evening lectures, and weekly salons. But make no mistake, they serve the same purpose: transforming class privilege into individual virtue, thereby shoring up social dominance.”
 
Lyft Shuttle is just another example of how tech privatization is destroying public services and democracy
 
I’ve been accused of being unromantic, so I think a relationship contract would probably be perfect for me

Canada's history of anti-Black violence may surprise you.

Black and Indigenous community activists in Edmonton have proven that 'random police checks' in that city disproportionately targets Black and Indigenous people based on data obtained from a FOIP request.  This is a huge deal, and provides what is likely the clearest picture of any city in Canada on the racist application of carding. Here's Bashir Mohamed, who led the efforts, explaining the significance of the findings.  
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