Weeknote 4, 2023

§1 Justfacts: Overrepresentation of Black People in the Canadian Criminal Justice System

Justice Canada, the Research and Statistics Division (RSD) conducts and publishes social science research in support of effective policies, programs, and legislation in Canada.

Their website lists their reports but it’s only if you run a search on research and publications, will you also see their JustFacts fact sheets alongside the Reports they produce.

Screen capture of the Justice Canada database of research reports and fact sheets

I took note of the Overrepresentation of Black People in the Canadian Criminal Justice System fact sheet. I think we would be better served if people would speak to these facts when the conversation of civilian oversight of our local police services boards arises.

§2 They Rule

This week I stumbled upon a couple interesting data-driven projects.

The first is They Rule: a visualization of the corporate boards of USA’s 100 largest corporations that has updated with 2021 information from Wikidata. It invites the reader to discover what sociologists call, board interlocks.

visualization of board of directors using tables and figures of people connected by lines

Fun fact: in August of 2018 I was interviewed by the CBC to speak about my own board visualization project although mine was made with the intention to represent the scope and the size of all the representatives of the city of Windsor’s municipal government.

Being the CBC, they didn’t include a link to my work so here it is: https://civics.aedileworks.com/2019/07/22/what-is-the-percentage-representation-of-women-in-the-city-of-windsors-council-advisory-groups-agencies-boards-and-committees/

§3 Public Interest Databases from Canada’s Investigative Journalism Foundation

I learned of this project from Harvard’s Nieman Lab:

“Think of us like ProPublica meets OpenSecrets.” That’s how editor-in-chief Zane Schwartz describes Canada’s newly launched Investigative Journalism Foundation.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan news startup aims to “expand the breadth, depth, and long-term financial sustainability of investigative journalism in Canada” by building public interest databases, collaborating with other newsrooms, and publishing its own investigations. A week after launching, IJF has shown some political leaders have been breaking their party’s pledge to stop allowing lobbyists to attend cash-for-access fundraisers, taken a sobering look at the country’s public-housing system in partnership with The Walrus, and cataloged, alongside the National Observer, a lobbying blitz by Canada’s largest oil and gas group.

The IJF mission is fairly simple. They hope to follow the money — and leave the door wide open for other journalists. But that doesn’t mean compiling this amount of data into useful, searchable databases has been easy.

While there is some cost to access the entirety of their work, they have made free versions of their databases available via https://theijf.org/databases