Carding…why are we still putting up with it?

November 26, 2014

Bill Blair, Chief,
Toronto Police Service,
40 College Street,
Toronto, ON M5G 2T3

Re: Blair opens up to students at rights symposium
 Toronto Star, Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chief Blair:

“You’ve got your own agenda….” is how the Toronto Star’s Patty Winsa quoted the beginning of your response to a question from the paper around the police practice of carding at a Know Your Rights meeting for youth at the Toronto Police College on Wednesday, November 19.
If by “agenda” you mean the Toronto Star’s ongoing efforts to make our police service transparent and accountable, then I would assume your comment was complimentary. As it is, the November 26 Police Board meeting to which you referred has been delayed, and that stalls the release of “Community Assessment of Police Practices”, a survey that would be of considerable interest to many.
It’s problematic understanding why there is any difficulty in implementing the Police Board’s policy on carding. You are an executive, authorized to issue directives and orders, supported by compliance staffers to ensure the measures are carried out, and with further resources to iron out what wrinkles may arise in the process.
“Carding” is an abhorrent infringement by the public service on the sovereignty of the citizenry. It’s a fishing expedition coupled with a reverse onus stipulation. Taken to an extreme, it could be likened to putting everyone in jail until each individual provides surety for good behaviour. Odd, given that those people in jail are the very ones who determine what good behaviour is required of us all.
Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

cc John Tory, Office of the Mayor
Patty Winsa, The Toronto Star


Tough on crime? Smart on crime?

During the 1980s, we saw many news items out of the United States around judges dismissing criminal charges on the grounds of human and constitutional rights violations. Many of these cases before the courts involved serious charges carrying substantial penalties. The din grew louder as media attention focused on what seemed an increasing number of incidents where potentially guilty parties walked free. However, one retired American judge whose credentials I failed to note at the time pointed out that if all concerned with the pursuit of justice, in particular police officers and prosecuting attorneys, did their jobs properly then these circumstances would not arise as frequently.
Perhaps the American ‘tough on crime’ impetus into the 1990s was in part a backlash to what were often seen as miscarriages. Federal and state governments became intent on correcting flaws in a system that too often appeared to favour the guilty. Prison populations grew, new facilities were built, and some jurisdictions privatized their penal systems; California passed its three strikes law in 1994.
Eventually, the United States had the distinction of having 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prisoners.
With a new century came an awareness in the U.S. that this lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key mentality didn’t measure up, and was quite probably doing more harm than good. What was going to happen to all the ex-cons after their release back into the community? Doug Sanders’ January 24, 2004 article in Toronto’s Globe and Mail, “600,000 ex-cons add up to a U.S. headache”, referenced President George Bush’s January 20 State of the Union Address where he remarked on the challenges facing U.S. society by moving that many ex-offenders back onto the streets in just 2004.
With time, governments realized the mounting costs were not offset by measurable benefits. One spokesperson for a southern U.S. State suggested a few years ago that it might be confronting a choice between financing prisons and paying for schools. Still later, California began quietly releasing some prisoners to reduce crowding, and the financial liability on the public purse.
The Washington Post published statistics in September of this year referencing America’s emptying prisons, noting the U.S. federal prison population dropped this year – the first time in decades the number of people behind bars had shrunk. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder highlighted the decline as a breakthrough for criminal justice reform.
The newspaper listed a number of indicators:
The cost of incarceration in the United States is 2010 was $80 billions of dollars.
Growth in the number of prisoners since 1980 was 800%, while the general U.S. population increased by about 33%.
The prison population had declined by 4800 at the end of fiscal 2014, to about 215,000 federal inmates.
The last decline in prison numbers was in 1980.
A further decline of 10,000 prisoners was expected in fiscal 2016, the equivalent of six full federal prisons.
Is it any wonder so many American law makers looked askance at Canada when the current federal government here launched its own tough on crime agenda. Why would we do something that had been tried and failed elsewhere? And not just from the United States are we hearing this. Legislators and law enforcement in Great Britain and Australia echoed the Americans. Others, like the Swedes, were more diplomatic when speaking of their own policies.
Canada’s prison population began to climb in 2007 in spite of falling crime rates. Why do intelligent men and women follow a course they know will meet with failure, and which will be costly to the fabric of our society, financially and socially? Further, these same intelligent men and women continue to ignore what they have before them, pushing forward a program contrary to good governance. Not only that, intent on squeezing budget surpluses out of limited revenue at the expense of programming and oversight, we can look forward to a surfeit of ex-offenders ill prepared to reintegrate successfully into our communities.
Why would intelligent men and women do this? Well, here’s a thought. This has nothing to do with safer communities, restorative justice, social order, or right and wrong. Rather, let’s look at this as pandering to an uninformed and mean-spirited support base by pillorying an easy target.
Thanks to Mssrs. Harper, et al, we’ll pay dearly for this.

Health Care in Canada’s Federal Prisons

The Office of the Correctional Investigator is mandated under Part III of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to serve as an Ombudsman for federal offenders. Perhaps as long as two years ago, the OCI reported that a prison term, particularly a lengthy prison term, could knock ten years off the life of an offender. CSC’s own resources tend to support this. Lifestyle plays a role of course, but so too does the availability and delivery of health care within federal institutions.
Referring again to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, Chapter 86, Section (1), The Service shall provide every inmate with, (a) essential health care, and, (b) reasonable access to non-essential mental health care that will contribute to the inmate’s rehabilitation and successful reintegration into the community. Also, Section (2), The provision of health care under SubSection (1) shall conform to professionally accepted standards.
In addition, Correctional Service of Canada’s Commissioner’s Directive 800 – Health Services, provides specifics which on paper do meet CSC’s argument that federal inmates receive the same levels of care as the rest of us, although there are exceptions such as dental care where what’s approved matches services available to persons in the community living on social assistance. Two of the big BUT’s are that delivery is uneven and inconsistent across the Service, and inmates must access health care personnel via non-health care staff members.
To cite only a couple of examples from Brennan Guigue’s (Rahim) own experience, many years ago he put in a request to see the dentist at Kingston Penitentiary. This wasn’t an emergency but he had concerns that needed an examination. It was seven months until he was in that dentist’s chair. Later, at Cowansville Institution in Quebec, he was taken to the local hospital for an x-ray of a shoulder on January 9 of 2014. The x-ray had been ordered by a doctor at Port-Cartier Institution in September of 2012. That’s not a typo…..2012! The injury had occurred months earlier, but his complaints had been ignored. This is a typical response, perhaps systemic, and can be attributed to any number of reasons like liability issues, budget factors (health care is a budget line item subject to performance bonus considerations), or explanations best left to speculation.
In any case, and understandably, the results of that x-ray wouldn’t be available to him until he saw the Cowansville Institution’s doctor. He’d asked for an appointment when he first arrived there in December of 2013, but that appointment was set for April… long as he wasn’t transferred to yet another prison.
An inmate in western Canada with whom I’ve corresponded discovered a lump is his groin in the fall of 2012. He was in pain and his requests for help were ignored. By January of 2013, he had his lawyer call the director/warden of his institution to persuade the system to act. It was cancer, he had surgery, but the delay puts him at risk for further tumors. As well, he had to initiate a court action in order to get proper pain relief.
Yet another inmate I’ve had contact with was asking for counseling as part of his preparation for reintegration into the community. He was turned down in more than one institution. He was released on parole and sent to one of the CCC (Community Correctional Centre) half-way houses which are operated by CSC in a number of cities. While there, the staff suggested he needed counseling, and set up a date weeks down the road, but the parolee was returned to prison for a minor infraction before the process could begin. He asked again for counseling while in custody, and again was told he didn’t need it. When his parole was reinstated to the same CCC half-way house, the staff there once more set up a far off date for counseling because, according to them, it was a necessary part of his reintroduction to the community. Once more, he was sent back to prison for a minor parole infraction, and once more he was told that he didn’t need counseling.
So, how does something like this happen? Well, consider that this counseling is covered under the provincial health care system when the inmate is in the half-way house, but CSC pays when that same person is in an institution. Confusing? Well, yes, if someone is trying to get on the right course, and after all, CSC is charged under the CCRA with helping offenders reintegrate.
The pressure on the prison health care system is about to get considerably worse. A disproportionately high number of prisoners are HIV+ or are infected with Hep C, or both. As expensive as the HIV anti-retrovirals are, there are a number of effective new drugs either available or awaiting approval to treat Hep C, and these can cost many tens of thousands of dollars. CSC will be squeezed by requests for treatment on the one hand, and calls for fiscal restraint on the other.
The bottom line here is simple. The next time you hear about prison inmates being treated to free and extensive health care, don’t be too quick to sign up. It could cost you your life!

Body of complaint letter to Quebec College des medecins

October 31, 2014

Inquiries Division,
Collége des médecins du Québec,
2170 René-Lévesque Blvd. West,
Montreal, QC H3H 2T8

Re: Dr. David Lesage, Attending Physician,
Donnacona Institution, Quebec Region
Brennan Wayne Guigue. FPS104902C

Dear Inquiries Division:
Dr. David Lesage offered an uncaring, cursory, and unprofessional examination of Brennan Guigue at Donnacona Institution on Tuesday, August 19. Brennan Guigue and his family object to his treatment, and as his father, supporter, and champion, I’m appalled that a physician would accept tax dollars for a federal prison rotation and not provide the contracted services under the CCRA, and Commissioner’s Directive 800 Health Services.
Brennan Guigue was a temporary detainee at the Regional Reception Centre in Ste-Anne-des Plaines who suffered serious injury from an extraordinary and unjustified use-of-force incident there on July 22. A liquid chemical agent was sprayed on his naked body. Quite simply, guards at the RCC:
Ignored CSC policy, and engaged in prohibited activity.
Acted unlawfully under sections of the Criminal Code.
Violated provisions of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisonsers, to which Canada is a signatory.
He was then surreptitiously transported to Donnacona the next day as an expedited substitution on a “load”, placed and held indefinitely in segregation there under what convenient justifications were available to prevent interaction with population and to limit contact with the outside, and further, put on ‘cuff status’ when a doubtful excuse arose. Miriam Gautier, the attending nurse in the health care unit at Donnacona on Saturday, July 26, refused to document Mr. Guigue’s injuries and condition. She gave him “Glaxo Base Cream” as a remedy, which was an unsatisfactory solution.
Brennan Guigue did not see Dr. Lesage until Tuesday, August 19, the escorting guard refused to remove the hand cuffs and the doctor did not insist they be taken off in order to facilitate a proper examination and documentation. In any case, Dr. David Lesage’s dismissive attitude excluded any substantive evaluation; he opined that Brennan had dry skin and walked away.
I can’t claim that the management of Donnacona asked Dr. Lesage not to look too closely at Brennan Guigue. What I can say is that Dr. Lesage did not provide adequate medical care, or address the concerns of a patient with obvious trauma.
Yours truly,


Charles H. Klasssen

cc: Dr. David Lesage, Centre Méd. Hochelaga, Montreal
Elain Tousigmant, Deputy Commissioner, Regional Headquarters – Quebec
Marc Lamoie, Director/Warden, Donnaconna Institution, Donnacona
Blind copies

Material/evidence requested from CSC

Using the Access Act and the Privacy Act, Brennan Guigue has requested through his lawyer a list of material from Correctional Service of Canada related to the July 22. 2014, incident essayed in his July 23 summary in this file.
The lawyer advises CSC will refute/delay/resist/subvert/waver/obstruct in response, and exercise what resources it has to bury this inquiry.
What we have here then is only phase one of the process to obtain the relevant data.
Keep in mind these are our civil servants, living from our public purse, and acting under the auspices of men and women we have elected, appointed, and employed to represent our best interests.


* Security Management Protocol governing the case Brennan Guigue on July 22, 2014.

* Report of Security Intelligence Officer concerning the incident of July 22, 2014.

* All logs of the Security Intelligence Officer for a week beginning on July 22, 2014.

* All logs of the Associate Warden for Interventions for a week beginning on July 22, 2014.

* The morning shift briefing reports of July 23, 2014.

* Brennan Guigue’s security incidents on RADAR / OMS.

* Threat risk assessments about Brennan Guigue for a week beginning on July 22, 2014.

* The executive summaries of any grievances made by Brennan Guigue on July 22, 2014, or during the following two weeks (i.e. up to and including August 5).

* The executive summaries of all reports concerning the use of chemical spray on Brennan Guigue occurring on July 22, 2014.

* Reports of any data issuing from all institutional, regional, and national reviews of the use of force against Brennan Guigue on July 22, 2014.

* The names and photographs of all staff who participated in any events and movements involving Brennan Guigue on July 22, 2014 from the time he was placed in the dry cell in the early afternoon until his return from the nurse’s station to his cell in the evening. The term “staff” is intended to include nursing staff.

* All log book entries of any units holding Brennan Guigue for a week beginning on July 22, 2014.

* All log book entries of the Correctional Manager of any units holding Brenan Guigue for a week beginning on July 22, 2014.

* All Operations log book entries for a week beginning on July 22, 2014.

* All log book entries of the Security Intelligence for a week beginning on July 22, 2014.

* All log book entries of the Associate Warden for Inventions for a week beginning on July 22, 2014

* For the period beginning when Brennan Guigue was placed in the dry cell on July 22, 2014, to the end of July, 2014, all emails to or from:

the Institutional Director,
the Deputy Director,
the Associate Warden on Interventions,
the Assistant Director Operations,
the Security Intelligence Officer,
the Correctional Officer (CO II) in charge of the Dome,
the Correctional Manager in charge of detention,
any other Correctional Manager on Shift,
all Parole Officers assigned to Brennan Guigue during the time he spent in the Regional Reception Centre,
the Nursing Staff.

* Hand-held video camera recordings of all staff interactions with movements of Brennan Guigue on July 22, 2014 beginning with his placement in the dry cell in the early afternoon and ending in the evening after his return to his v=cell from the nursing station.

* Film from the fixed security cameras facing the dry cell on July 22, 2014, during the time it was occupied by Brennan Guigue.

*Film from the fixed security cameras facing the shower on July 22, 2014 during Brennan Guigue’s arrival at it and departure therefrom and during the time Brennan Guigue was in the shower.

* Film from the fixed security cameras facing the protocol cell used for decontamination of Brenan Guigue after the use of chemical spray on July 22, 2014. The requested period extends from Brennan Guigue’s arrival at the shower to his departure from it.

* Film from the fixed security cameras facing the nursing station to which Brennan Guigue was brought. The requested period covers the time during which Brennan Guigue was present there in the evening of July 22, 2014.

In short, we wish everything in the possession of CSC that sheds light on Brennan Guigue’s July 22, 2014 confrontation with staff and its aftermath.