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.

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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Terrorism in Orlando

This past Sunday, Orlando U.S was faced with an act of terrorism that left 50 individuals dead and countless individuals traumatized. The attack targeted the LGBTQ community at a nightclub known as Pulse. A man armed with an assault rifle and handgun began shooting in the nightclub during the late hours of the night.

LgbtqAccording to some sources, the man worked for homeland security in the United States. Thus, this man was legally permitted to carry the firearms.  The assailants’ co-worker explained that the assailant had a short-temper when it came to topics regarding women, homosexuality and religion.  The assailants’ ex-wife stated that she had divorced him due to his “bipolar personality” and physical abuse. She also stated that the assailant had a history of using steroids which she believes altered his mental stability. Media sources had stated that the shooter, Omar Mateen had allegedly pledged himself to ISIS.

Today it was revealed that the man had ties to the LGBTQ community, in fact he was a regular at the nightclub. He was also an avid user of gay dating apps. Mateen’s ex-wife later explained on a Portuguese media station that the FBI had asked her not to share that he was gay with media.

Many Muslims are outraged and feel the FBI is orchestrating a hate crime of their own as conflicting theories have been released stating that Mateen had connections with ISIS and Al Qaida, two ideologies that run parallel to each other.

americanIn contrast to Canada, Americans have a legal right to bear arms. June is recognized as PRIDE month in Toronto. The LGBTQ community floods the streets of downtown Toronto to celebrate liberation, acceptance and freedom to be who they are. However, this event in Orlando has left many individuals scared for their safety. In light of the fear, the Canadian government has agreed to provide more security during the PRIDE parade this year.

There have been many attacks against the LGBTQ community including bombings of venues, setting homosexuals on fire and targeted mass shootings. However, some argue that the distinct factor in this case is the high death toll. Members of the LGBTQ community often face stigmatization relating to HIV and AIDS; consequently, LGBTQ members are also more likely to become victims of physical abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. Furthermore, teenagers belonging to the LGBTQ community are more likely to be suicidal than their heterosexual peers. This group of individuals is considered a vulnerable minority due to this harsh reality.

Canada has taken significant steps to embrace the LGBTQ community by proposing legislation to help protect their rights and choices. To read more about the proposed legislation, click on the links below.

What are your thoughts on this incident? How do you think the media handled this tragedy? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Transgender developments Bill C-16

The Liberal government promised equality and change, Bill C-16 may be a step in that direction. B C-16 was proposed by the Liberal party in the House of Commons this Tuesday. Simply put Bill C- 16 would help legally protect transgendered individuals.

Many individuals are not familiar with the differences between being a transsexual and being transgendered. Sexuality is related to biology, specifically genitalia. Conversely, gender is a social concept and allows an individual to choose what they identify with. Gender is rooted in social constructions of what it means to be male, female or genderless, irrelevant to one’s anatomy. Transgendered individuals usually identify with a gender that differs from how society may categorize them. Consequently, this leads to complex legal issues.

Every_Canadian_Needs_A_CopyBill C-16 proposes to protect transgendered individuals in the following ways:

  1. The Human Rights Act will expand to protect individuals based on their “gender identity” and “gender expression”. Thus, individuals would be protected from being discriminated based on how one chooses to express their gender and what gender they identify with. For example, if a female chooses to wear a tux to prom, she will not be removed from prom due to her attire (this is a real life example). Individuals will also be protected against being denied a job based on their gender expression; for instance, if a male chooses to express himself as a female, he cannot be denied employment on these grounds.
  2. The Criminal Code of Canada would also be amended to protect individuals from hate speech based on their gender identity and gender expression. Judges will be required to consider the use of such language as aggravating factors in a case. For instance, if someone is assaulted due to their appearance and are called words like “faggot”, “dyke” or “she-male” these terms will be viewed as aggravating factors and result in a more serious conviction.

This bill was proposed a half a dozen times before by the New Democrat party but it was shot down every time. This is the first time that the bill has been brought forward by the party in power. Many MP’s are hoping that the legislation will be passed this time. If this bill is passed, Paralegals will be able to defend victims at the Human Rights Tribunal.

Stay tuned to TSP for more developments!
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Security vs. Privacy

CCTV_Surveillance_Notice_svgEveryone wants to feel secure in their home and neighborhood. Many individuals and families take measures to help protect their families from harm including: locking their doors, installing security systems, and closed circuit video systems (CCTV). The presence of CCTV’s in particular, is used to deter perpetrators from committing crimes due to a fear of being caught. Although this mechanism can be effective for some, it can also create hindrance of privacy for others, especially neighbours.

Few individuals question the presence of surveillance cameras placed on their neighbour’s property, in fact, for some it is a sense of relief, especially if one does not have their own camera. These devices can help identify individuals involved in criminal or deviant behavior and serves as a reliable source of evidence in cases.

The issue arises when individuals who are not committing a crime or deviant act are under surveillance without their consent and without knowledge. Surveillance cameras often cover a larger portion of the premises than just one property or lot. Hence, many cameras will also capture the comings and goings of neighbours. Furthermore, some of these cameras can be angled to look directly into a neighbours home, through a window for example. Imagine someone being able to peer into your home without your knowledge – that’s a scary thought for many individuals.

Although cameras can violate a neighbours right to privacy, it also upholds the right to safety for the person installing the camera. With two conflicting rights – who would win? It is likely that the person who has installed their camera would be able to keep their camera so long as they agreed to not violate their neighbours rights to privacy. The complainant would likely be encouraged to shut their blinds to mitigate surveillance as well. Sometimes a discussion with your neighbor can help alleviate any tension and diffuse a potential violation of privacy law suit.

There are some parts of Ontario, such as Hamilton, that have in place by-laws to help regulate the use of cameras. Conversely, in B.C the laws are far less regulated and even ambiguous.

A CCTV system can assist police officers in solving issues far quicker than two individuals providing their verbal accounts of a situation. In fact, in dispute situations, police officers regularly check CCTV systems to gather information and draw conclusions.

What do you think – are CCTV’s an effective tool or a nuisance and violation of privacy?
What carries more weight, privacy rights or safety?

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Do safe-injection sites make sense?

I found this topic to be particularly interesting due it’s controversial nature. Many individuals have strong opinions about safe- injection sites. Supporters believe that they help regulate health risks while opponents argue that these sites encourage drug-use. This post will explore both sides.

What are safe-injection sites?

1207px-Syringe_Needle_IV.jpgSafe injection sites allow drug-users and addicts to use drugs with fresh needles provided by the government. The needles are disposed rather than reused after an individual injects themselves. The aim is to discourage addicts and drug-users from sharing used needles which can lead to transferring diseases.

The Liberal government unlike the former Conservative government supports drug injection sites as they believe safe-injection sites serve a financial and health benefit for Canadians. There have been numerous studies that have supported the ideology that injection sites help reduce the risk of health epidemics such as Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.
Some additional facts suggest:

1. Treating someone with hepatitis C can cost up to $60,000 over the course of six months (this is typical treatment). Hence, it’s a hefty cost for the government to pay.

2. The use of safe-injection sites has proven to reduce the spread of health epidemics.

3. Nurses watch the addict inject the drug to prevent the user from overdosing. Consequently, statistics suggest that death due to overdosing has also decreased where these sites are used.

4.  Insite, a popular safe-injection site in Canada has proven to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and crime within a ten block radius of the safe-injection site

Is it any surprise the Liberal government is interested in this plan?

Conversely, opponents argue that safe-injection sites enable drug-users and provide a safe haven for drug addicts to get their high. It is also argued that addicts should be encouraged to address their addiction rather than provided with a medical practitioner to watch them inject themselves.

Perhaps the most common argument against safe-injection sites is that crime will increase in safe-injection premises and no one wants a safe-injection site in their neighbourhood. The main concern is often the well-being of the children in that particular area – will they be more prone to use drugs?

What do you think? Are there safe-injection sites where you live? How well have they worked?

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What Does a Canadian Citizenship Mean To You?

There is an ongoing debate surrounding what constitutes a Canadian citizenship. Is it a privilege or right? Has Canadian citizenship become a two-tier system? Many have conflicting attitudes when answering these questions. Media has portrayed the new Canadian citizenship act (Bill C-24) to be a two-tier system. Many individuals, especially immigrants are outraged to be considered “less Canadian” than their Canadian born counterparts. Zakaria Amara’s case highlights this issue.

Zakaria Amara is a convicted terrorist for his part in the Toronto 18 group. The group had planned to plant three bombs throughout Toronto which could have potentially killed hundreds of individuals. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 with a chance of parole. He has resided in Canada for most of his life but was born in Jordan. However, due to Bill C-24, his citizenship has been revoked. Consequently, he will likely be deported upon parole.

Some individuals argue that deporting Amara is a sign of xenophobia and only feeds the idea of a two-tier citizenship model within Canada. Many are perturbed by the idea that only individuals with dual-citizenships, largely immigrants, are subjected to this kind of treatment as another Canadians without a dual –citizenship would not have their citizenship revoked. These individuals argue that citizenship is a right and not a privilege; thus, his citizenship should remain intact and he should serve his sentence in Canada.

In addition, many individuals have begun questioning why citizenship revocation hasn’t been extended to other criminals including rapists and serial killers. The idea is other criminals with citizenships are tried within the law and they do not have their citizenship revoked and neither should terrorists. Terrorists should not be sent to their parent’s homeland as a result of their criminal conduct.

In opposition, Amara’s choice to partake in a premeditated terrorist plan to bomb Toronto shows he has no respect for his fellow Canadians. Consequently, terrorists should not be considered Canadian as they have failed to uphold their allegiance to the country and its values. Hence, anyone involved in a terrorist attack should have their citizenship revoked, regardless of if their parents are immigrants or not. Some individuals also feel that if you are born in Canada only then citizenship is a right and if born elsewhere it is a privilege.

FlagThis case has highlighted the question, what is a Canadian citizenship worth? Canadians and politicians are conflicted and divided in their opinions and sentiments. In the recent Munk debate, Trudeau and Harper stood on opposite ends of this issue. The Harper government put in place Bill C-24 while Trudeau wants to address its shortcomings and believes that terrorists should not have their citizenship revoked.

Where do you stand?

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Points of Discussion:

1. What are your thoughts?

Long-term Costs of Uber vs. Taxis

TaxiTravelling within Toronto is not cheap, just ask a Torontonian. Sitting in cab will cost you $4.25, an additional 25 cents for every 0.143 km and another 25 cents for waiting time under engagement. It may not seem like much but it most certainly adds up. Conversely, in Paris $15 could get you to the other side of town. Hence, it is no surprise that Uber which only charges $2.50 to sit in has more affordable time cost expenses is flourishing, especially in times of recession. Perhaps this is why Toronto is changing its stance against Uber.

After fighting long and hard against Uber, Toronto has considered embracing Uber’s cheaper fees. Like the U.S, Toronto is currently considering legalizing Uber and regulating it under transportation network companies (TNC). Hence, Uber will be regulated under a different system than taxi drivers. Other cities looking to embrace this regulation include but are not limited to: Ottawa, Edmonton and Waterloo. Edmonton has already employed a strategy to incorporate Uber into its culture.

Edmonton regulation

Although Uber is less expensive for clients, it is far more costly for Uber drivers in Edmonton. Uber regulation could cost drivers up to $6791.50 per year. Edmonton bylaws require Uber drivers to obtain commercial insurance that costs up to $6,000 annually. Although Uber offers to cover Uber drivers up to 5 million dollars for bodily injuries and property damage, Canadian law requires commercial insurance for drivers charging for their services. Additionally, drivers need to undergo criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and license applications. Non-compliance to these regulations could cost illegal drivers up to $5,000 in fines. One may feel these expenses justify legalizing Uber however taxi drivers disagree.

Taxi Drivers

Many taxi drivers believe the fees simply aren’t enough. While taxi drivers have capped rates for providing their services, Uber drivers have no such limitation as they can set their own rates. This is a troubling reality for taxi drivers. Numerous taxi drivers are petitioning against the legalization of Uber and insisting taxi fares be reduced. Taxi drivers fear that taxi usage will plummet and that they will consequently lose their jobs.

Pros vs. Cons

If Uber is legalized, travelling would be cheaper for Torontonians as the base fare is only $2.50 compared to $4.25 for taxies. Legalizing Uber would also help small communities with less transportation options find affordable means of transportation.

Conversely, legalizing Uber could result in a significant setback for those who drive taxis for a living. In addition, there have been multiple cases of sexual assault where authorities have had difficulty catching the perpetrators. Also, without commercial insurance, consumers are left vulnerable and unsafe. Finally, requesting Uber in bad weather may cost more than a taxi. If you’re also against high taxi fares, then you can sign the petition prepared by Beck Taxi to lower taxi fares

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Points of Discussion:

  1. Which side do you agree with?
  2.  Is Uber legalized where you live? If so, what is your take on its legalization?