Politics on TV: Brazeau, Baird and the mentally ill

The three things you need to see


Here are the three things you should not have missed:

  1. Senator Brazeau
  2. John Baird goes to Washington
  3. Getting tougher on mentally ill offenders

Senator Brazeau:

Power & Politics started off with a briefing from Terry Milewski, who replayed some of the more controversial moments from Brazeau’s Senate career and those swirling about the time of his appointment. Hannah Thibedeau then spoke with NDP MP Megan Leslie, who said it was appropriate to kick Brazeau out of caucus, and that Harper needs to think about how to recoup Brazeau’s salary, while she made a number of general comments about the appointed nature of the Senate. Thibedeau then spoke with Chief Gilbert Whiteduck from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, who was asking for Brazeau to resign and take some time to look at his life. Whiteduck noted that his community is angry with Brazeau for the statements he makes, especially about Chief Theresa Spence.

John Baird:

Power Play spoke with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who met with new US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington today. Baird said it was gratifying to know that Kerry things so highly of Canada that his first meeting was with our foreign minister, and on the matter of Keystone XL, he said that Kerry was committed to completing the supplementary assessment out in short order, and was approaching it with an open mind.  Baird said their discussions also touched on the issues of the Beyond the Border initiative, and the progress on the new Windsor-Detroit bridge. Over on Power & Politics, Baird added that their discussions did touch on Mali, but said that there is no pressure for Canada to contribute more.

Mentally ill offenders:

After the government tabled new legislation today to deal with offenders deemed criminally not responsible, Thibedeau spoke with an MP panel comprised of Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Françoise Boivin, and Sean Casey. Findlay said the legislation makes public safety the paramount consideration when dealing with these offenders, and gives more consideration to victims. When asked for statistics on recidivism rates or who was consulted on the bill, Findlay said that the bill wasn’t about statistics, but about restoring faith in the system. Boivin said that she was disappointed in the bill, as it had no guarantees that it would correct any lapses as it leaves it to the court to decide which offenders are high-risk. Casey said that the bill plays on the fears of the Conservative base as a fundraising tactic, and was not based on empirical evidence. He added that by looking at the issue of these offenders through the lens of victims’ rights, it didn’t provide any balance with the dignity or constitutional rights of the mentally ill.

Worth Noting:


Politics on TV: Brazeau, Baird and the mentally ill

  1. john baird(hi mom,look at me !) looked like a novice next to john kerry at the news conference yesterday. there will be no pipeline in the near future ! thats all anyone had to notice yesterday was the body language.obama is smart enough to know how the harperites operate. i think the relationship between canada and the us has shifted from being great nieghbours,to,lets just try to get along and do whats in the best interest for each others country.the us is still very upset with harper over the intelligence breach and the “its a no brainer”(keystone)bonehead comment when an enviormentally freindly american prez is just starting a second round of elections . canada shouldnt expect alot from the us for a long time to come . we(canada)will pay dearly for the stupid security breach on stevos watch.i dont even feel as safe in this country since the security breach. F35s,security breach,student ID breach,native peoples issues and the list goes on and on with this bunch(cons).how many more mulligans does this harper goverment get ?

  2. Ms. Findley found the lack of compassion for victims shocking. While this in itself is a bit of a straw man (Im sure people on both sides of the debate are compassionate to them), I found it her lack of concern for evidence about recendivisim when formulating justice policy shocking.

    She says that recendivisim has nothing to do with the measure, as it was about bringing confidence in the system back. How can making policy without evidence bring confidence to the system? This is kind of like saying the best way to have confidence in perscription drugs is to stop having clinical trials before approval. Not basing justice policy on evidence is the easiest way to kill confidence in the system. Now we cannot trust that the government is making an effort to ensure that justice is served. Rather it is making measures that will make people “feel” confident.

    As for a lack of compassion, I am appalled at the lack of compassion she has shown for the mentally ill, who are victims of horrible illnesses. The fact that they committed crimes should not lessen our compassion for them, or hope for their recovery or reintigration into society. That she would consider keeping them imprisoned for 2 more years simply to “restore confidence” in the system without evidence that it will improve public safety is appallingly caviler towards mentally ill persons in the system. I am not saying that it might not be warrented, but it must be demonstrated to improve public safety, not “our confidence”, or else our confidence in the system is an illusion, because it was made arbitrarily.

    • If you have been following this issue you must know that the entire reason for this need to overhaul the policies governing the policies surrounding how the justice system approaches people who are found “not criminally responsible”. That is the case of Guy Turcotte, a Quebec doctor who killed his children and was released less four years later., He does not suffer from psychosis or profoundly low cognitive abilities…rather he was intoxicated and depressed. He is now trying to return to practicing medicine and is planning to remarry and have more children. Understandably the mother of the children he murdered, who is also a physician, is upset and is lobbying the government for tighter controls. Now, having said that….what you are going to get is tighter controls.
      You seem to be concerned that people who are suffering from psychosis at the time the crimes are committed will be unjustly “punished” through longer sentences. Given that there is really no cure for Schizophrenia but that ongoing treatment is the only way to ensure that a person remains living in “reality”, these people already remain in some sort of supervised care forever. They are mandated to visit a psychiatrist and receive antipsychotics for the rest of their lives. There is no “reintigration” into society or “recovery”. There is no cure. As long as they take their medication, they are well. However, very very few ever work and therefore, most are on permanent lifelong disability. As for repeat offenders, they usually only repeat offend if they go off of their medication and lose touch with reality. That is why if their charges are serious, they are always mandated to remain on medication and they have to have injected medication. If they miss their appointment, they are brought into custody.
      What this change in policy will ensure is that the forensic system will scrutinize each person who is charged with a crime more completely to ensure that they have the diagnosis right. Hopefully in the future, there won’t be any more Guy Turcotte’s but rather people who are truly mentally ill or cognitively impaired that are found not criminally responsible.

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