Roundup: Tough on the mentally ill

Yesterday, news came out that Vincent Li (now known as Will Baker) was given an absolute discharge; he of course was the man who beheaded someone on a Greyhound bus in 2008 while in the midst of a psychotic episode due to undiagnosed schizophrenia. He was later deemed not criminally responsible because, as stated, he was not in his right mind when the incident happened, and has since received treatment and is unlikely to reoffend. And predictably, social media lit up with outrage, particularly from the Conservatives who declared this an absolute travesty and an insult to the family of Li’s victim, Tim McLean, and how this “proved” that our justice system cared more about the rights of criminals than it did the victims. Rona Ambrose brought this up in QP a few days ago, when Li’s release was pending, and not once did she mention the fact that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was found not criminally responsible. (In his response, Justin Trudeau didn’t either, for the record).

But here’s the really galling part. Just days ago, Ambrose and many of these very same Conservatives were all over social media for #BellLetsTalk Day, talking about how important it is to take away the stigma of mental illness. And now here’s Li, who is as much a victim in this as McLean was because he was mentally ill, and the Conservatives are considering him to be an unrepentant murderer because of his mental illness.

So what is it? Are you serious about having adult conversations about mental illness, even when it’s inconvenient to your political agenda of being “tough on crime” (never mind that the courts established that he wasn’t criminally responsible because he was mentally ill)? Or are you going to insist that people who were mentally ill and have received treatment remain locked up in perpetuity, thus “proving” why people with mental illnesses should be stigmatized and marginalized from society? Because it’s one or the other. You’re all looking like a bunch of hypocrites right now, and like you were lying to the Canadian public when you wanted to #BellLetsTalk about mental illness.

Good reads:

  • With Justin Trudeau off to Washington on Monday, here is a look at some of the issues that may be on the table.
  • While in Iqaluit, Trudeau got a bit feistier in answering about the Phoenix pay fiasco, pointing out that the Conservatives left them a “big steaming pile.” He’s not wrong.
  • In Yellowknife, Trudeau elaborated about why he pulled the plug on electoral reform. Kellie Leitch later responded by saying Trudeau is the “fringe,” not her. (Sure, Jan).
  • The Globe is now digging into what dealings Rona Ambrose had with billionaire friend Murray Edwards’ companies while she was a minister.
  • The government’s long-term fiscal forecast was prepared in advance of the fall economic update but kept out of it…but I’m not quite seeing the scandal here.
  • Here’s some interesting data on Canadian vs American attitudes toward things like Muslim headscarves and surveillance, in which we are less progressive.
  • There has been an upswing in citizenship revocations since Trudeau came to power because the Conservatives started investigations into fraud. We settled this already!
  • A declassified CBSA report shows that Syrian refugees are considered relatively low security threat.
  • Éric Grenier crunches census data to compare it to political trends, and finds the Conservatives are strong in high-growth areas, and the NDP in slow-growing areas.
  • Kevin O’Leary says he supports the prescription herion programme that the Conservatives constantly rail about, and that he understands harm reduction.
  • Michael Petrou suggests that Trudeau use some of his political capital to take a stand against the Assad regime and its industrial-scale slaughter.
  • Susan Delacourt wonders if the government is really listening to all of the consultations they’re engaging in, based on some decisions to date.
  • Kady O’Malley drafts an apology that Trudeau could use if he’s in mea culpa-mode around electoral reform.
  • Andrew Coyne talks about the need for collective action amongst nations to contain the Trumpocalypse.
  • Colby Cosh writes about Trump discovering that being president isn’t like being CEO of a family company, and wonders if the American public will also figure that out.

Odds and ends:

Rumour has it that former Quebec cabinet minister Yolande James is considering running to replace Stéphane Dion, which would be great as she’s impressive on Power & Politics.

One thought on “Roundup: Tough on the mentally ill

  1. How very sad to see politicians use a private citizen and his struggle with mental illness as a football to score points. How can any of us believe people like Rona Ambrose, who believes in power and influence but not much else it would appear. No wonder people think of politicians as corrupt and self-satisfied. In Canada the mental health crisis is out of hand and needs attention but nothing will be done simply because it cost $$$.

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