Legal News Articles

Legal Phone Applications

question markHave you ever found yourself in a situation where you wish you were aware of your legal rights? Individuals who feel targeted by practices such as carding: being stopped by a police officer and asked to produce ID due to your racial background. An individual who felt he was targeted due to his racial profile created a phone application to assist laypersons with navigating the legal system – he named LegalSwipe.

Christien Levien, the creator of the application, came across this idea while working in legal rights workshops and completing his Law degree; he realized that many individuals could not completely appreciate the advice being given or how to apply it.  Being a victim of carding himself, he advocates for the importance of such an application. The app is meant to assist individuals during interactions with the police. The app also videotapes encounters with the police and uploads them to Dropbox. The app allows the user to ask a question and have it answered almost promptly.

The application was launched in Toronto in July of 2015 and had about 10,000 downloads in the first day. Toronto and Quebec have had the most downloads for the app.
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What does this phone application offer you?

It seems relatively easy to navigate compared to searching for answers online. It is aimed to be easy to understand so the average person is not confused by the use of legal terminology. There is also a broadcast messaging factor that allows the users emergency contacts to be sent constant messages about the user’s location. Finally, the product also offers a Dropbox Audio and Video Recording that will be emailed to emergency contacts and uploaded to synchronized Dropbox accounts. That last part is still a bit confusing to me, to be completely honest.

Although I have not used the application myself, I cannot imagine a police officer responding well to someone pulling out their phone while being arrested or questioned. Mr. Levien acknowledges this issue and encourages individuals to familiarize themselves with the product before they may need to use it. I think it’s a fantastic idea to educate laypersons about the law, after all, that is the objective of this blog.

What are your thoughts?
How effective do you think this app can be?
Have you used the application?

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Aboriginal Women Targeted By Police Officers

abVal d’Or is known for its longstanding history with aboriginal communities including the Algonquin and Cree tribes but not without conflict. Aboriginals have protested against how the police force treats their women for years and are now finally being heard.

Countless aboriginal women have stated that Sûreté du Québec officers have assaulted or punished women for being intoxicated by driving them out of town and abandoning them in the cold.  Police brutality towards aboriginal women was no surprise to many Quebecers but the presence of sexual abuse was shocking.

Many aboriginal women have stated that police officers would occasionally request the women to perform oral sex. Refusing to follow through would often result in agonizing repercussions. According to the women, the authorities were well aware of these complaints before they went public but chose to ignore them. Will this time be different?

Quebec’s public security minister stated that eight Sûreté du Québec officers were suspended due to 14 complaints of abuse of power and assault in a news conference. The officers are presumed innocent until proven guilty based on substantial evidence to support the claims made by the aboriginal women. Since the initial story was released additional aboriginal women have shared their own parallel accounts of sexual violence inflicted by the police force.

Retired judge Lawrence Poitras supports the concern expressed by aboriginal women when he stated “officers accused of abuse often retaliate with criminal charges against the accusers in order to cover their tracks.” – CBC article http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/val-dor-cameras-1.3290119

The Montreal police force is now responsible for overseeing the investigation. The aim is to prevent the SQ from overseeing the investigation and protecting its officers. Furthermore, Pierre Veilleux, the president of the Quebec provincial police union (APPQ), shared with CBC that the force is aiming to place cameras in cruisers beginning December to assess the severity of the situation.

Politicians are raising concerns about how prevalent this abuse of power might be in other parts of Quebec with aboriginal communities. Many politicians have also suggested the need for a provincial investigation to ensure that the protection of vulnerable members of the community.  Advocates have stated that a victim’s background including drug addictions and prostitution do not justify the abuse of power displayed by the officers.

Abuse of power results in a lack of trust in authorities and often results in rebellion; for example, many individuals are protesting against the abuse of power in the streets of Quebec. Furthermore, some aboriginals chose not to attend work as a form of protest.

If these allegations are proven true then one must question where aboriginals are to turn to seek justice if the authority that is supposed to provide them protection is exploiting them? Consequently, many officers are perturbed by the abuse of power and even angered by the lack of respect these officers displayed for their positions of power.

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Justice For Amanda Todd

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This picture was created by one of her peers. Amanda was tagged in numerous photos similar to this one by her peers after leaving her school. In her video she elaborates on the difficulties she had moving on due to her peers tagging her in similar pictures such as this.

Amanda Todd was 15 when she took her life as a result of online bullying. She was blackmailed into exposing her breasts on webcam to an online predator and was stalked and bullied by him. She changed schools but he found her again and made a Facebook page with her friends showing her breasts as the profile picture. As a result, she was continuously bullied by peers. She committed suicide in October of 2012.  The Canadian justice system is trying to persecute the man allegedly behind this heinous crime, Aydin Coban, but is facing considerable difficulty due to international law regulations.

Aydin Coban resides in the Netherlands and was under suspicion for distributing child porn in Amanda’s case but was not formally charged with her death. Upon further investigation it was determined that Coban had been arrested in January of 2014 for harassing victims online and charges including indecent assault and production and dissemination of child pornography.  A few months later, the RCMP declared that he was also charged with five accounts including extortion, internet luring, criminal harassment and the possession and distribution of child pornography in B.C in relation to Amanda Todd’s case. Coban has been suspected of blackmailing youth from all over the world to perform sexual acts over webcam. He is also facing sextortion and distribution of child pornography in a case of another Canadian youth.

Coban’s trial is currently in pretrial-motion hearings stage; the parties argue before a judge what evidence should be admissible, who can or cannot testify and if the case should be dismissed completely. It has been stated that Coban will not be charged in relation to non- Dutch victims (including Amanda). Christian van Dijk, Coban’s lawyer, has disclosed that Coban is on trial for 39 alleged victims. De Bruin, the Canadian lawyer for Todd has stated that Coban could be handed-over to Canadian authorities if the authorities choose to take that path. Conversely, Van Dijk has explained that extradition is not an option so long as the case continues in the Netherlands.

With the expansion and complexity of technology it has become difficult to determine the jurisdiction and legal implications of international crimes. Cybercrime and exploitation have become easier through the internet and various social media facets. Alternatively, these tools also serve to create social awareness and can be used as tool for victims to have a voice. For instance, Amanda Todd made a YouTube video explaining how she was exploited and bullied.

Countless youths are targeted and blackmailed by unknown faces online and then isolated by their peers when their story is brought to the public eye. Unfortunately, there are still individuals who suggest “don’t show your boobs online “is the solution but the topic is far more complex than nudity, legally and morally. Sometimes victims are unaware that photos are being taken of them or being shared. Predators often have information about the victim’s family, their residence, their school and more to manipulate their victims such was Amanda’s story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOHXGNx-E7E .

What are your thoughts?

Do you believe Coban should have a Canadian trial?

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Game of Thrones Meets Canadian Politicians

GotI recently found an article portraying election party leaders as The Game of Thrones characters. Needless to say, the comparison was brilliant! I decided to expand on the article by supporting some of the statements with corresponding legislation and my own thoughts. If you aren’t up to date with the show, there are some spoilers.

Harper; Joffrey Baratheon

Harpers government has been known to swiftly remove individuals who oppose their regime and ideals. One may argue Bill C-51: The Anti-terrorist Act, Bill C-24: The Citizenship Act and the niqab debate have resulted in an “us vs. them” mentality. The article states that Harper is largely disliked by many. Some women argue that Harper’s government lacks respect for women. For instance, many Aboriginals argue that not enough has been done to protect and find missing Aboriginal women. Finally, opposing politicians have argued that Harper (much like Joffrey) has disgraced the global perception of Canadians due to his choices. Nevertheless, unlike Joffrey, Harper still has a strong following.

Jon_Snow_and_Ghost Trudeau; Jon Snow

Trudeau has a famous father and aims to bring a new approach to politics. Like Snow, Trudeau was underestimated by his seniors but has become a leader to many of his followers. Trudeau portrays himself as a teacher, advocate and leader – all of these qualities are possessed by Snow. Trudeau claims to be concerned about climate change, like Snow, he too acknowledges “winter is coming”. Trudeau argues that supporting the Anti-terrorism Act was a means of survival; he felt forced to support the legislation to protect Canadians against ISIS but claims he will amend the bill once in power. Similarly, Snow had worked with the opposing group (the Wildings) for survival as he took up arms against the white walkers to protect others.

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May; Khaleesi

Khaleesi: a powerful woman with great plans for empowering the vulnerable members of society. She advocates for the homeless, displaced and marginalized individuals in society. She wants to provide homes, a safe environment and protection for Canadians by improving the National Housing Strategy and implementing her Guaranteed Liveable Income. She is creating a strong and loyal following based on her social policies. However, much like Khaleesi, she is overlooked by her male counterparts.

TyrionMulcair; Tyrion Lannister

Mulcair has considerably more political experience than his opponents. He has demonstrated opposition to the throne (Harpers government) by opposing bills such as the Anti-Terrorism Act. He has compassion for marginalized individuals within the community and is often close to but never on the throne – however, that can change in this election. He claims to be willing to work with the green party to create the change he believes Canada needs. Similarly, Tyrion is willing to work with Khaleesi to create as well. Finally, if Mulcair doesn’t win the election, much like Tyrion, this probably won’t be the last you hear of him.

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Points of Discussion:

  1. Are these characters a good fit?
  2. What else would you add to each of these characters?

The original article link: http://www.joeydevilla.com/2015/10/12/game-of-thrones-canadian-elections-edition/

Police Can’t Return Stolen iMac

With technology advancements occurring every day, it is no shock that the legal realm is having difficulty keeping up. There are many instances where the legal system is just not able to help a victim of technology related crimes; such is the case for Mohamed Tahar.

Mohamed Tahar resides in Montreal and lives in an apartment building with his family. Due to a small fire, all residents of the apartment were asked to evacuate the premises. Tahar was put into a hotel with his family. Upon returning home, Tahar found that his apartment had been broken in to. The burglar had taken his wife’s gold jewelry and his Mac computer along with numerous computer accessories.

Naturally, being the technological wizard he is, Tahar decided to track down his Mac via remote computer tracking tools specifically through iCloud’s Find My Mac tool. He then chose to remotely lock his computer and ask the thief to return his belongings. However, his attempt was futile.

Tahar then chose to approach the police with this his concerns in hopes that they could return his computer and other belongings to him after he had pinpointed the apartment building where his belongings were. Tahar faced a predicament when the officers advised him that their hands were tied.

You might wondering, how can someone do all the work involved in tracking a burglar and then be told that they are out of luck?

Canadian LawEvery_Canadian_Needs_A_Copy

Although Tahar was able to pinpoint the apartment building in which the burglar had supposedly stored his stolen items, iCloud did not specify the apartment number the burglar resided in or an IP address.

Why couldn’t the police officers just go into every apartment and search for the items? Simple, because it would violate an individual’s Charter rights to be protected against illegal search.

Why didn’t the police just get a warrant to search the apartments? In order to get a warrant, the police would require a judge’s approval for a warrant to inspect every apartment in the building. A judge would not grant a warrant that would result in countless innocent individuals having their homes searched. Also, the judge would need proof that the burglar resides in the specified apartment building.

What’s the issue there? Assuming the iMac and jewelry are found in one of the apartments, it does not establish proof that the individual in possession of the iMac is in fact the burglar as it possible that the possessor merely unknowingly bought the iMac from the burglar.

Where does this leave Tahar?

Tahar is hoping to obtain his belongings at some point. His wife’s jewelry has significant sentimental value and he wishes for it to be returned. He continues to check pawn shops, hoping that he might come across it.

Although the legal realm is having trouble staying up with technological advancements, citizens should continue to bring their findings and information regarding legal issues to the police. Information helps the authorities assess how to proceed and build a case.

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Points of discussion:

1. If you lived in the apartment would you be willing to have the police search your home?

2. Were you surprised by any of the information shared?

Vandalizing an Elementary School in the Name of Protest

It’s that time of the year again, when parents take a sigh of relief while children return to school. However, this year returning to school has been different for many students and teachers. Why? Teachers school facility, MPP’s and school buildings are facing the backlash of the new sex education curriculum.

AidsIn the first two days of schools alone, two schools were vandalized supposedly by parents in protest of the newly revised sex education curriculum. The phrase “shame on you” was spray painted on the walls of Thorncliffe Park public school and Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy. Personally, I found this behaviour to be immature. Canadians have the right to protest but this kind of action is just unacceptable especially in the case of elementary schools.

Students shouldn’t be exposed to vandalism as a means of adult protests. It’s not fair for the children to have what is supposed to be their safe space to learn vandalized. Imagine seeing these words in a space where children aged 4-10 play and learn. Imagine how upsetting it was for parents to explain to their children why that writing was on the wall. Sex-education is a sensitive issue and it is understandable why parents have their concerns. Everyone has the right to protest and follow their beliefs however; I don’t believe vandalism is the way to achieve that goal.

Furthermore, half of the students from Thorncliffe were removed from their first day of classes as a protest to the new curriculum. Thorncliffe is known for having a large Muslim population of students. However, some Muslim community members such as Farrah Marfatiah have chosen to take a unique role by creating a guide to the new guidelines by explaining the changes in accordance to Islamic beliefs. Read more about it here: http://tinyurl.com/qbqpohg. In the past, some parents have protested outside of Liberal MPP offices against the new legislation.

Wednesday, “the day of protest” was put together by the pro-life group Campaign Life Coalition. Some parents went as far to suggest that they are considering removing their child from public school and placing them in Catholic schools or home schooling their children in order to avoid having their child learn the new sex-education material. Other parents are arguing that sex-education should be taught at home. Conversely, some parents are accepting the sex-education curriculum for the most part but object to parts of it including teaching children about homosexuality.

LgbtqDespite the backlash, many students, parents and school boards support this movement and believe that it should’ve been updated much earlier. Some children have stated that they understand the material better and had many of their questions answered. Moreover, parents are arguing that they may not have the time to stay up to date with the new technological threats which have evolved over the years and are glad that schools are taking on this responsibility.

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What does the new sex-ed curriculum include? Find out here:https://thesocialparalegal.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/lets-talk-about-sex-ed-new-legislation/

Daycare Gone Wrong: Toddler Fight Club

As schedules become increasingly busier many parents are looking to place their children in daycares. Daycares are meant to be safe spaces for children to learn and interact with other children while parents are at work. Unfortunately, some daycares fail to satisfy the required standards, such is the case of a New Jersey daycare.

Two employees at Lightbridge Academy daycare in New Jersey decided to run a toddler “Fight Club”. The daycare employees had approximately a dozen children aged four to six striking and tackling each other. Erica Kenny, who was one of the supervisors, made a Snapchat video of the children rumbling and shared it with her followers. Kenny was heard encouraging the children to fight each other while reciting Fight Club dialogues in her Snapchat video. Fortunately, the video was recorded by a viewer and shared with the authorities. To make matters worse, Erica Kenny is a teacher’s aide and Chanese White is a teacher.

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The two employees Kenny, 22, and White, 28 were criminally charged for their behaviour. Both employees were charged with fourth degree child abuse. Kenny was further charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Both employees were fired. The daycare continues to insist this was an isolated event.

Parents were outraged to learn what had occurred in the daycare. One parent went as far as to state her son had returned from the daycare with a broken finger and she now questions if it was a result of the toddler wrestling ring.

That’s the U.S what about Ontario?

Updated Child Care Laws in Ontario

Ontario is trying to tackle the shortcomings of the existing childcare legislation by updating legal standards set out in the the Daycare Nurseries Act (DNA). As of August 31, 2015, under the new rules of the Child Care and Early Years Ac t (CCEYA), the only requirement for an unlicensed daycare is that there must be less than five children under the age of 6 (not including the daycare owners own children) being supervised at one time. This limitation applies regardless of the number of adults in the home.

In August of 2016, the government would like to make an amendment that requires unlicensed providers to count their children under the age of 6 and can only take care of two children under the age of two. In August of 2017, the legislation aims to “include children who are 10, 11 and 12 years old in the total care of children they care for”. Noncompliance may result in administrative penalties and convictions that may include fines.

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Points of Discussion:

1. What are your thoughts regarding Ontario’s proposed updates?

2. Do you feel the decision against the employees was just? How would you do it differently?

If you are a parent or know someone who has child in a daycare, please share this piece and help educate others about the law.