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Do BC nurses face higher risk of violence than law enforcement?

This sponsored content in the Times-Colonist is bit misleading. Or perhaps a kinder way to say it would be “poorly worded”:

In the past decade, B.C. nurses experienced approximately 2862 time-loss injuries from violence, which were often the result of being kicked, hit or beaten by patients or residents of the facilities they work in. What’s perhaps more striking, though, is the fact that these nurses are at greater risk of injury from workplace violence than law enforcement and security workers.

Although violence is commonly associated with jobs in security and law enforcement, occupations in this field made up just 14 percent of all injuries that resulted from workplace violence, while nurses (including aides and health care assistants) accounted for more than 40 percent.

There are quite a few problems with comparing occupations like this. For example, one major issue is that these statistics only include a fraction of the law enforcement officers working in British Columbia. The RCMP officers from E Division are not included. These police officers from E Division – all of whom work in British Columbia – fall under the Canadian Labour Code rather than the BC Workers Compensation Act.

About a third of all RCMP officers work in E Division.  There are 18,000+ officers in the RCMP which would mean about 6000 RCMP officers in British Columbia. Obviously this creates a big gap in the WorkSafeBC data.

Testifying by video conference

This is a post that I’m going to try to update over time with new case law.

I saw this article on the Toronto Star – Prosecutor blames Toronto police vacation plans as impaired driving case collapses:

She explained in court that a trial notification for next month’s trial had been sent to Toronto police on June 23, 2016, but it was only in January that the officer in charge of the case emailed Kromm to say he didn’t believe many of the officers requested to testify were necessary.

“I told him there was a charter application before the court and it was my opinion that those officers were necessary and I required them to be here for trial,” Kromm told Horkins, according to a court recording obtained by the Star.

She said she then received a further email informing her that two of the officers were “unavailable for trial because they were going on vacation to Florida.”

One point that could have saved these charges from being stayed was Section 714.2(1) of the Criminal Code:

714.2 (1) A court shall receive evidence given by a witness outside Canada by means of technology that permits the witness to testify in the virtual presence of the parties and the court unless one of the parties satisfies the court that the reception of such testimony would be contrary to the principles of fundamental justice.

This section mandates the Court to receive testimony from an out-of-country witness, unless Defence or Crown can show it is contrary to the principles of fundamental justice (ie. unfair). This appears to have been an option for the prosecutor and the judge in the case above. Or, if you give 714.2(1) a strict interpretation, it was not an option but a requirement.

Here are some cases where the witness was permitted to testify pursuant to 714.2(1) of the Criminal Code. It’s worth noting that, in every case I could find, out of country witnesses were  allowed to testify pursuant to 714.2(1) of the Code:

Witness allowed – R. v. Galandie, 2008 BCPC 6

Witness allowed – R. v. D’Entremont, 2009 ABPC 374

Witness allowed – R. v. Turner, 2002 BCSC 1135

Witness allowed – R. v Al-Enzi, 2017 ONSC 304

Witness allowed – R. v. Schertzer, 2010 ONSC 6686

Witness allowed – R v Nguyen, 2015 SKQB 382

Witness allowed – R v Singh, 2015 ONSC 6823

Witness allowed – R. v. M.M., 2012 ABPC 73

Witness allowed – R. v. Stevenson, 2012 BCSC 800

If the witness is located inside Canada, but away from the location of where court proceedings are being held, then 714.1 of the Criminal Code allows for a witness to testify by video conference:

714.1 A court may order that a witness in Canada give evidence by means of technology that permits the witness to testify elsewhere in Canada in the virtual presence of the parties and the court, if the court is of the opinion that it would be appropriate in all the circumstances, including

(a) the location and personal circumstances of the witness;

(b) the costs that would be incurred if the witness had to be physically present; and

(c) the nature of the witness’ anticipated evidence.

Under this section, the courts have been generally open to some witnesses testifying by video conference, where there is a good reason for it. But they have not been inclined to allow police officers or correctional officers inside Canada to testify remotely. Here are a few cases. I hope to update these over time:

Officer denied – R. v. Munro, 2009 YKTC 125 (CanLII)

Officer denied – R. v. Fleury, 2004 SKPC 53 (CanLII)

Officer denied – R. v. Ross, 2007 BCPC 244 (CanLII)

Officer denied – R. v. Munro, 2009 YKTC 125 (CanLII)

Officers allowed – R. v. Kim MacNearney and Craig MacNearney, 2010 NWTSC 77 (CanLII)

Videoconference capabilities have improved since these sections of the Criminal Code were introduced in 1999. It is likely they will get even better in the future.

Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Yesterday Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) ceased to exist. In its place is a new organization called Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP).

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition was narrow, focused, driven.  Its philosophy and its messaging was well thought out. It had intellectual rigour. It changed how the world viewed the War on Drugs.

Law Enforcement Action Partnership is more broad, tentative, searching. It is brand new. There is potential for it to become more political and less independent. But it could also accomplish great things. Only time will tell.

I am in the process of stepping down from LEAP. I say “in the process” because after eight years as a speaker, and six years as a board member, it is not easy to untangle myself. For the past year and a half, I was also the treasurer of LEAP. This involved a lot of behind the scenes work  and significant responsibility in terms of financial oversight and internal reform of the organization. Inge Fryklund – bless her heart – will now carry on these efforts.

Some of my proudest accomplishments with LEAP: Testifying before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Winning my human rights case. Helping LEAP obtain consultative status with the United Nations. Serving as the founding president of LEAP’s Canadian branch. There were many other great moments but those are a few that stand out.

I’m not against the idea of LEAP evolving. But this next step of the journey was not for me. These days I am more focused on my family, and my career.

My departure from LEAP is also about the need for me to be able to communicate with fierce independence. I have some things to say about the justice system. I don’t want anything I am saying or writing to be misconstrued as the official views of Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

I am grateful to many folks at LEAP for the past eight years. Jack Cole, Peter Christ, Steve Finlay, Neill Franklin, Leigh Maddox, Inge Fryklund, Steve Downing, Terry Nelson, Tony Ryan, Rick Van Wickler, Diane Goldstein, Norm Stamper, Randie Long, Dan Mulligan, John Anderson. Jerry Paradis (rest in peace). The current and past staff of LEAP, including Shaleen Title, Tom Angell, Kristen Daley, Antoinette O’Neil, Bill Fried, Darby Beck, Mikayla Hellwich, Lindsay Akin, Amos Irwin and Roshun Shah. Apologies if I missed anyone. Neil Woods replaced me on the Board of Directors – I am very happy about this and it made my decision to step down much easier.

I learned so much from the thousands of volunteer hours that I dedicated to LEAP.  And I wish the very best for LEAP 2.0 as it moves forward.

Narcos Season 2 coming to Netflix on September 2nd

Perseids meteor shower TOMORROW

The Perseids meteor shower will take place during the next two nights (Thursday and Friday):

“It is typically the second richest shower after the Geminids every December,” Slooh Astronomer and The Old Farmers Almanac Astronomy Editor Bob Berman said. “[The Perseids] offer very fast meteors, and about 30 percent of them leave behind lingering trains. The number of meteors increase quite a bit after 12 and 1 a.m. when the ‘radiant,’ or the place in the sky the meteors emanate from, rises in the northeast.”

The shower’s peak will occur on Thursday night, but Friday night will also offer a good opportunity for those looking to experience the Perseids, according to NASA.

Discovered during the American Civil War by astronomers Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle, debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet colliding with the planet and burning up in the atmosphere provides the spectacular light show, but cloudy skies might block the view for some stargazers.

“One of the best things about the Perseids meteor shower is the fact it occurs during the summer months across the Northern Hemisphere,” AccuWeather Meteorologist and astronomy blogger Dave Samuhel said. “Summer tends to feature more clear skies than the colder seasons.”