Category Archives: History and Policy

“This half century of struggle”: A Look Back at Child Care Advocacy

Lisa Pasolli If you know one thing about the history of child care in Canada, it’s probably that it is a story littered with disappointment. Over and over, studies and task forces have called for the building of a universal child care system. Over and over, governments have promised action only to walk back their commitments or have their plans… Read more »

Take a Look Inside: What did we learn from a prison riot fifty years ago?

On April 15, 1971, rioting prisoners in Canada’s oldest prison invited reporters to take a look inside. They wanted the entire world to come to the infamous Kingston Penitentiary to see how the forgotten were treated and how they lived. Fifty years later and after five decades of government policy shifts and bureaucratic fumbling on penal reform, we are still waiting to take a look inside.

Public Health, Rights, and Protest in the Age of COVID-19

Jennifer Tunnicliffe COVID-19 and the steps taken to inhibit its spread have inspired significant opposition across Canada over the past ten months. Protestors have rallied against measures implemented by provincial governments, and movements such as The Line Canada and March to Unmask have used public demonstrations and social media platforms to denounce mandatory mask-wearing, quarantine procedures, travel restrictions, and lockdown… Read more »

Psycho Killer, Qu’est-ce que c’est?

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By Amy Bell On a hot night in June, 1966, 18-year-old Matthew Charles Lamb woke up from a beer-fueled evening nap at his uncle’s house in East Windsor, Ontario. Released from the Kingston Penitentiary only seventeen days earlier, Lamb was resentful about the conditions of his parole, and depressed about his future. He got up, grabbed his uncle’s gun and… Read more »

Building a white Canada: gender, sexuality, race, and medicine

By Allison Lynn Bennett Sexual control is inherent to empire. Colonial authorities and doctors understood sexuality as key to maintaining white superiority. Reproduction and health were the focus of eugenic measures that played on gender, sexual, and racial stereotypes. As a settler colony, Canada imagined itself as “British”, or “white”, and therefore regulated the sexual lives and behaviour of both… Read more »

Race Relations, Psychological Testing, and Resistance to Change: The Toronto Police, 1970s-1980s

David M. K. Sheinin As a city changes, as tensions grow between the police and the communities they serve, how can we know if a candidate has what it takes to lead a major police force? Is it possible to predict success (or failure)? Those questions are at the core of a debate that has raged for decades on whether… Read more »

From ME to WE to the CYC – Liberals and the Controversial History of Youth Volunteerism

Kevin Brushett On June 25, 2020 Justin Trudeau announced the creation of Canada Student Service Grant, a program that encouraged young Canadians to volunteer in their communities while paying them up to $5000 to do so. Within days however, Trudeau’s feel good announcement began to turn sour as questions arose over the program’s links to the ME to WE charity,… Read more »

That Other Time the Toronto Police Tried to Solve the Race Problem: The Ethnic Relations Unit, 1970s-1980s

David M. K. Sheinin In the early 1970s, to gain insights into the Italian immigrant community in Toronto, the police set up an Ethnic Relations Unit. In 1975 the unit created a “Black Section” followed by Jewish, Southeast Asian, and other sections. The experiment in building bridges to ethnic communities failed because this solution to growing police-community tensions reinforced rather… Read more »

Defund the police

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Tamara Gene Myers Amidst the call to “Defund the police,” it bears thinking about removing police from our schools as well. “Defund the police” has become the rallying cry of anti-Black racism protests following the public murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Relentless police violence has generated heated discussion about how decades of policies intended to “reform”… Read more »