Being a migrant isn’t a crime and mental illness should not be punished

Canada routinely detains undocumented migrants, often in holding centres and sometimes in maximum security jails.  This includes non-citizens who are extremely vulnerable: asylum-seekers, torture survivors, and those who have serious mental health issues.

The number of non-citizens held in immigration detention in Canada has been steadily climbing in recent years. In 2013, over 7300 non-citizens were held in detention in Canada for some period of time, and over 60% of detentions occur in Ontario.  Almost a third of migrants are detained in provincial jails, most often co-mingled with the general prison population. 

IWe are not speaking of non-citizens who have been charged with a crime, tried before a judge, convicted, and serving a criminal sentence. The migrants in detention may have been on their way into Canada as refugee claimants, or on their way out of Canada because they have been ordered to leave. A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer unilaterally decides whether to order detention, usually on grounds that the person needs to be held in custody to facilitate imminent deportation, and/or out of concern that the person might ‘go underground’.  But deportation may turn out not to be imminent because the country of origin refuses to issue travel documents, or is so conflict-ridden that it is unsafe to send anyone there.  The end result: detainees are sometimes jailed for months and years.

The Promise and Peril of Adapting the Regulatory System to the Pharmacogenomic Context: New Paper McGill Journal of Law and Health

Recent years has seen growing hype around pharmacogenomics—the study of the influence that genetic factors have on drug response—and its alleged revolutionary impact on the practice of medicine. Part of the expanding field of personalized medicine, pharmacogenomics is said to show promise for helping to diagnose disease, identify people at risk of disease, and fine-tune treatments. Drug companies are developing an interest in increasing the efficacy of their products by developing companion diagnostic tests that can stratify patient populations according to genetic predisposition to respond to drug therapies. Part of the reason for the interest in pharmacogenomics also appears to be profit-related: many of the highly specialized drugs pushed through the regulatory system in the context of personalized medicine come with an extraordinary price tag, which raises questions about the affordability of this drug development model. In earlier papers, we already explored the significant issues associated with the move towards niche markets (see this paper), and the use of ‘orphan-drug’ designation to speed up drug approval and extend monopoly-like protections (see this paper).

Penalties that do not Punish: Administrative Monetary Penalties Under the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation

University of Toronto philosophy professor Joseph Heath argues for a reinstatement of rationality in social and political discourse in his new book, Enlightenment 2.0.[1]   This book provides modern examples of statements by politicians that are not based on proper factual or logical foundations.

We could use some rational logic  in the world of administrative monetary penalties. The new Canadian Anti Spam Law, (CASL)[2] is enforced by a  maximum administrative  penalty (AMP) of $1,000,000 in the case of an individual, and $10,000,000 in the case of any other person.  AMPs defy logic in two significant ways. 

First, CASL states explicitly under the heading of "Administrative Monetary Penalties",  "Violations" and the "purpose of penalty" that  "the purpose of a penalty is to promote compliance with this Act and not to punish."[3]   .   The proposition that penalties do not punish not only defies logic  but also violates basic rule of the English language.  Penalty is defined as "A punishment imposed for breaking a law, rule, or contract."[4]  

Minnesota Legislature Must Hold Hearings on Psychiatric Research Misconduct

By Trudo Lemmens, Raymond DeVries, Lois Shepherd and Susan M. Reverby (this op-ed was originally published on April 28, 2015 in the Minnesota Post)

(The following commentary was also signed by 159 scholars of health law, bioethics, medicine and pharmacy from institutions in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and other countries. Their names and affiliations are listed in a document attached to the Minnesota Post commentary. Earlier UofT Law blogs already reported on the initiatives and controversies mentioned in this commentary. See here)

As scholars of health law, bioethics and medicine, we are calling on the Minnesota Legislature to conduct public hearings on psychiatric research misconduct at the University of Minnesota.

Respect the weight of 800 years of law in Khadr bail

 

Portrait of Audrey Macklin

 

This oped by law scholar Prof. Audrey Macklin, commenting on Canadian Omar Khadr's release on bail pending his appeal, appeared in the print and online versions of the Globe and Mail today. Read the full commentary online here, or below.

 

Respect the weight of 800 years of law in Khadr bail

By Audrey Macklin, Professor & Chair in Human Rights Law

One Million Dollar Fine Confirms the Shift of Corporate Criminal Liability From the Boardroom to Middle Managers

On April 17, 2015, Justice Tôth of the Quebec Superior Court imposed a one million dollar fine on a corporation found guilty of price fixing in the case of R. c. Pétroles Global inc ("Global Fuels"). This case is important because it affirms that corporations will be penalized for the actions of middle level territory managers, even where there is no evidence that the head office of the company was aware of the misconduct.

 

The Pharmaceutical Industry’s Shift towards Niche Markets and ‘Personalized Medicine’: New Article Reports on Qualitative Study and Critically Analyzes Ethical and Regulatory Challenges

Reports abound of an apparent innovation crisis in the pharmaceutical sector, with some sources citing escalating drug development costs, declining new drug approvals, and an increasingly stringent regulatory environment. Concurrently, commentators refer to the death, or at least the decline, of the blockbuster model of drug development—where large, brand-name pharmaceutical companies rely on a portfolio of drugs that gross more than U.S. $1 billion per year—which has dominated the pharmaceutical sector for decades.

Decreasing the Data Deficit: Improving Canada's Drug Regulatory System

Decreasing the Data Deficit: Improving Canada’s Drug Regulatory System: Paper by Trudo Lemmens & Shannon Gibson now publicly available on SSRN.

 

New Canadian Securities Administrators' rules would discourage takeovers

Financial Post

This week, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published draft rules under which a takeover bid would have an irrevocable 50 percent minimum tender condition. Once met, the rules would require an additional 10-day right to tender for undecided shareholders.

The bid, however, would also remain open for a minimum of 120 days. The 50 percent condition is laudable, because it offers effective decision-making capacity on the part of shareholders. The 120-day requirement, however, would cause uncertainty in the market, to the detriment of target shareholders, and of bidders.

The CSA proposal seeks to strike a balance that might lessen the prominence of litigation relating to shareholder rights plans or “poison pills.” The bidder must obtain a “majority of minority” approval before it can take up shares; securities of the bidder and its joint actors would not be counted in the 50 percent. The advantage is that a minority of shareholders cannot force the majority to sell control.

The proposal would therefore likely sound the death knell for some pills such as the “just say no” pill, whereby the bidder can remove the pill only via a proxy contest. But it would prevent bidders from being able to corner target shareholders into the undesirable choice of selling into an underpriced offer or being stuck with illiquid shares.

Home care rethink is needed

Home care rethink is needed

Cost-cutting measures at CCACs have fragmented and confused patient care

Hamilton Spectator

Home care in Ontario has been a controversial subject for decades. In 1995, the Mike Harris government implemented Community Care Access Centres or CCACs, and a managed competition model for service providers. This system changed the face of home care, but did it cause more harm than good?

In the 1980s and 1990s, political parties unanimously agreed that reform was needed, as there was no formal home care system and provincial government spending in health care was too high. Each party proposed a new home care model, and after their election the Harris government passed the Home Care and Community Services Act.

CCACs were introduced to better help individuals live independently at home and to provide information about care options through community support agencies. However, the introduction of a competitive procurement process was driven by an effort to cut costs.