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Newsstand: March 12, 2013

Which day of the week feels longer, Tuesday or Thursday? Our vote's on the former. In the news: A report for the city counters claims made my anti-poverty activists; one Richmond Hill teacher rejects her union's call to boycott extracurriculars; citizens have new powers to arrest ne'er-do-wells; and potential whistleblowers at York kept mum.

newsstand humbetown

An internal report prepared for city council contradicts activist assertions that Toronto has a shortage of shelter beds. The 22-page report by the City’s acting general manager for Shelter, Support and Housing Administration found that shelter beds are available each night in Toronto, and emergency spaces are available when needed. “Notwithstanding this evidence, there continue to be anecdotal reports that people seeking shelter are being told that no beds are available,” the report stated. Ontario Coalition Against Poverty activists camped in front of the mayor’s office last month, saying that bed shortages have contributed to deaths among the city’s homeless. OCAP countered the report by saying that available beds may not match the need in particular areas, for example when shelters serve only men or women.

One teacher in Richmond Hill wrote in an open letter to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario York Region president David Clegg that she intended to continue her extracurricular activities despite recommendations from the union that teachers withdraw voluntary duties as part of the continued protest against contracts imposed by the provincial government. ” I will attend monthly staff meetings. I will run my choir. I will plan field trips. I will attend meetings outside the instructional day, if I so choose,” Walter Scott Public School teacher Susan Beattie wrote in the letter, published in the Richmond Hill Liberal. Ontario public high-school teachers ended their boycott of voluntary activities late last month, but elementary teachers have continued theirs.

New powers of arrest for citizens came into effect in Canada yesterday, to mixed reactions. The Citizens’ Arrest and Self-defence Act allows for perpetrators to be caught within a reasonable amount of time, not only red-handed, after a crime. The law allows citizens to make an arrest when someone has committed a crime on their property or related to their possessions when an arrest by a cop is not feasible. The case of Toronto shopkeeper David Chen, who was charged and later acquitted after chasing down a shopkeeper, inspired the act. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ontario Convenience Stores Association both criticized the new law, saying that its scope is too wide and people making citizens’ arrests could be endangered.

York University documents show that school staff were aware of fraud, but fear of reprisals kept them from reporting it to senior management. York didn’t have protections in place for whistleblowers in 2009, which kept allegations of abuse, harassment, bullying, and financial improprieties from being reported, according to university affidavits and an internal audit. The school has since launched a civil lawsuit against 25 individuals and companies for their alleged role in more than a million dollars in loses.


  • Steveinto

    Can I arrest drivers when they try to run me over while making right, and left hand turn, refusing to yield the right of way to pedestrians?

    • HotDang

      Only if they do so while shoplifting from your small business.

      • Steveinto

        Oh well, I guess the logic is a dead pedestrian makes more room for cars. As we have been told it is the pedestrians fault for not wearing day glow clothes and flashing light on their heads.

    • andrew97

      If you’re in the middle of the street, you can only do a citizen’s arrest if you see someone committing an indictable criminal offense. Assault with a weapon (e.g., deliberately aiming your car at someone and gunning it) is indictable, as is dangerous driving (e.g., zooming through a busy intersection at high speed or against the light with clear disregard for safety).

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        So, “yes”?

        • andrew97

          “Yes” if you are acting in good faith. Failing to yield is a provincial offense, not a crime, so if you citizen’s arrest a driver because you’re mad at them for cutting you off, then you can be charged with false imprisonment.

          • Steveinto

            How about when the car comes close enough to you that it brushes you and/or requires you to jump back for safety? Many close encounters I have had are after the lights indicate the car should stop/yield and the pedestrian gets a signal to enter the crossing.

          • andrew97

            Probably better to ask a lawyer.

          • Steveinto

            In the meantime I have my keys ready

          • n

            common sense or is common sense too complicated?

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            It’s my understanding that you can place someone in citizen’s arrest without confining them. If they leave the scene once arrested they can be charged with resisting arrest or leaving the scene of a crime or somesuch. But I am not a lawyer.

          • andrew97

            I’m not a lawyer either, but:

            “Delivery to peace officer

            (3) Any one other than a peace officer who arrests a person without
            warrant shall forthwith deliver the person to a peace officer.”

            This seems to suggest you can’t arrest a person without requiring that they come along with you.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Or wait until the police arrive.

  • Tedhealey

    Why would a shopkeeper chase down a shopkeeper?

  • Jacob

    Can I arrest someone if they’re groping my ass?

    • andrew97

      Yes! Sexual assault is an indictable offense.

  • CaligulaJones

    Rather hypocritical of teachers who seeming spend an inordinate amount of time teaching about the dangers of bullying and how terrible peer pressure is resort to bullying and peer pressure.

  • kroberts

    “The case of Toronto shopkeeper David Chen, who was charged and later acquitted after chasing down a shopkeeper” – think you meant “shoplifter” the second time :)

  • rich1299

    The “abuse, harassment, bullying” of employees of York U by management isn’t just confined to one dept there, it is very wide spread at least among non-academic employees. I heard non-academic employees at York U have one of the highest rates of medical leave, I can assure you no one is taking advantage of the system unless you believe that hundreds of Dr’s (there are many thousands of non-academic employees required to support the teaching & research that goes on there) across the city have been fabricating their medical records for the benefit of York U employees on medical leave.

    The culture of “abuse, harassment, bullying” of non-academic employees by management at York U makes people far more ill, especially if they have any sort of mental health problems but even if not the stress of working in a toxic environment takes its toll on people with any sort of health problem and it can easily create health problems where none existed previously. Such toxic environments cost York U massive amounts of money, more than they lost in this case, not only in lost productivity from the increase in sick days and medical leave such toxic conditions create but also in employees quitting and the cost of hiring and training new employees.

    Being a non-profit organization there is no financial incentive for management to treat employees with fairness and basic human decency. Plus York consists of many individual “fiefdoms” ruled over by the same manager for decades, most of whom have no training in effective management that increases productivity and reduces employee sick days, medical leave and turnover. While I believe the problems there originate near the top of the hierarchy at York U its been the same under various presidents so it doesn’t seem to originate at the very top. It seems to have become worse in the last 15-20 years or so likely as a result of managers being put under greater pressure due to funding cuts but I have no idea. That’s based on the opinions of those I know who have retired from York U telling me about the culture change in management that started around the mid 1990s or so.

    York U talks a good game about supporting workers with health problems & fighting against “abuse, harassment, bullying” in the workplace and does have rules and regulations in place that is supposed to prevent such things. However management spends much of their time figuring out ways to work around these rules and the provisions in employee contracts and are very successful in doing so. Considering the vendettas carried out against employees dealing with chronic health problems by some managers, at least in some depts., that are normally easily manageable health problems that shouldn’t affect their work but their health is suffering greatly from the toxic work environment which leads to more sick days and medical leaves. Its not at all surprising employees are afraid to use the resources available to report the “abuse, harassment, bullying” they suffer from their managers, especially once they realize just how easy it is for management to get around the rules and regulations that are supposed to be protecting employees.

    But the pay is decent and the benefits very good and in today’s economy finding another similar paying job with similar benefits is extremely difficult especially since new employers who check references and employment history would only ever hear the story told by the managers who subject their employees to “abuse, harassment, bullying” So many try to stick it out as long as possible regardless of the negative impact it has on their health and well being, especially if they have children to support.

    Needless to say its a very demoralized workforce, at least for those who have worked there for than a few years or those who aren’t personal friends of management. Everyone who has worked there for any length of time knows what’s going on at York U, however it always comes down to a manager’s word against an employee’s word, unless as in this case there is supporting documentation.