Michael Bryant urges repeal of law that ‘criminalizes homelessness’

Posted on December 15, 2014 in Inclusion Policy Context

TheStar.com – Queen’s Park – Former attorney general Michael Bryant is urging Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government to right a wrong he “failed” to do as Ontario’s top lawman.
Dec 15 2014.   By: Robert Benzie, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief

Former attorney general Michael Bryant is urging Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government to right a wrong he “failed” to do as Ontario’s top lawman.

Bryant on Monday implored his fellow Grits to repeal the Safe Streets Act that police have been using since 2000 to charge panhandlers and so-called squeegee kids.

“Let’s stop arresting the poor for being poor. It criminalizes homelessness,” he said at Queen’s Park, noting people soliciting money for charities on city sidewalks are rarely ticketed for doing the essentially same thing.

Asked why the Liberal didn’t scrap the law enacted by former Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris during his four years as attorney general under ex-premier Dalton McGuinty, Bryant did not mince words: “I failed. I am accountable. I have no excuses.”

He noted that amending the law would be “consistent” with Wynne’s policies on poverty reduction and helping the mentally ill.

Stephen Gaetz, a York University professor of education and director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, said the law is a “waste” of the justice system’s resources.

Gaetz estimated that it cost Toronto police almost $1 million in time to hand out $4 million in tickets between 2000 and 2010 — 99 per cent of which are never paid because homeless people cannot afford the fines that range from $60 to $500.

“That is a waste of money and a waste of services,” he said.

Mary Birdsell, of the Justice for Children and Youth Legal Clinic, said the Act is “a primitive and degrading response to homelessness.”
“It is mean, it is bullying, and it is beneath us,” she said.

Officials in the office of Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur were not immediately available for comment.

< http://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2014/12/15/michael_bryant_urges_repeal_of_law_that_criminalizes_homelessness.html >

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One Response to “Michael Bryant urges repeal of law that ‘criminalizes homelessness’”

  1. Jasvir says:

    An adventure!!! We all wish you the best in this next stage of your life, and hope that you and your dogs enjoy wlanikg muzzle-free perhaps you can continue the therapy dog training that was interrupted by the Ontario Fibs’ unfounded, unjust, vague and shoddy law motivated by career ambition.Travel safe, live well!! And keep blogging!!


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