Saturday, December 6, 2014

Canada could learn from Mississippi on human rights

My Globe and Mail had an excellent account today of the state torture inflicted on a young Native man, Edward Snowshoe.

Mr. Snowshoe died by his own hand while serving a sentence for armed robbery. When you read the story, you get the impression that the crime itself was a cry for help.

This multi-page feature story challenges many of the sanctimonious assumptions that Canadians, and especially our politicians, routinely make when it comes to Canada's track record on human rights. I'm a regular reader of the press releases churned out by our Department of Foreign Affairs, and you don't have to read very many before you conclude that Canada is indeed that most enlightened of nations, saving the less fortunate everywhere in the less fortunate world, especially if they happen to be women or girls.

Evil-doers world-wide cringe at the prospect of being lambasted in a John Baird barrage of self-righteous condemnation.

Yes, our leaders are ever-vigilant in ferreting out human rights abuses in other countries, but are beyond blind when it comes to seeing what's going wrong in their own.

Overall, journalist Patrick White does a great job drawing attention to Canada's increasing reliance on solitary confinement as a management tool within the penal system. The fact that Mississippi is closing down solitary confinement facilities while Canada expands them will come as a shock to many readers who take our moral superiority for granted.

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