For the times they aren’t a’changin….

Back in 2008/2009, we spent some time looking at CSCS, the Ontario provincial jail system. Good grief, if taxpayers would only pay attention. You can look at the January 24th posting, “Ontario’s Provincial Jails – a Comment”, for an update. What follows is another letter to Yasir Naqvi around health care in particular.

March 10, 2015

The Honourable Yasir Naqvi,
Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
18th Floor,
George Drew Building, 25 Grosvenor Street,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Minister Naqvi:

Over many years, health care in our provincial jails has come to my attention as leaving much to be desired. This may be a generalization, and while I have numerous examples of professionals in the system working as we would expect, there are just too many instances of callous, negligent, and even dangerous responses to the medical needs of inmates.

Why would certified health-care workers not exercise best practices? In one case on file, a nurse in a Toronto facility told an inmate that, “health care is a privilege, not a right.” Frankly, minister, this makes no sense. That is, until a casual conversation on the subject with someone inside your ministry provided a likely explanation.

Whether remuneration and benefits in jail health-care units are competitive with the private sector is debatable, but in any case, money is not necessarily central to the situation as it exists. What is more to the point are the CSCS hiring practices for positions such as registered nurses. I’ve been told that persons holding valid certifications as RNs are considered eligible for available openings, without additional vetting. This has led to some questionable hires.

Minister Naqvi, I don’t expect to hear from you on the subject, but too many people in the community know a problem persists. If nothing else, your conscience demands that the rhetoric on health-care in our jails matches the reality.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen


Do not be silent!

The text of these two letters is self-explanatory. What a joy to write them:

March 9, 2015

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper,
Prime Minister of Canada,
Office of the Prime Minister,
80 Wellington Street,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Re: Government, judiciary set to clash over no-parole bill
Globe and Mail, Saturday, March 7, 2015

Prime Minister:

As with so much of the Reform Party’s so-called tough on crime legislation, your latest regressive effort around sentencing will cost taxpayers millions of dollars to implement, millions of more dollars to defend, and even further millions in compensation.

So, why would an intelligent person persist in governing by looking through the rear-view mirror? There are two relevant explanations. Firstly, he is pandering to an uninformed and mean-spirited voter base. And then, he is reaffirming his position as Canada’s leading troglodyte.

Nonetheless, neither is an excuse for discreditable behaviour.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

March 13, 2015

The Honourable Peter MacKay,
Minister of Justice & Attorney General of Canada,
509S Centre Block,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Life Means Life Act

Minister MacKay:

Perhaps the nicest thing that can be said about C-54 is that it’s a piece of troglodytious lex talionis legislation.

Yes, I think that fits.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

Democracy? Stephen Harper’s nimbyism.

“Information is the lifeblood of a democracy. Without adequate access to key information about government policies and programs, citizens and parliamentarians cannot make informed decisions and incompetent or corrupt governments can be hidden under a cloak of secrecy.”
Stephen Harper,
Montreal Gazette, 2005

Stephen Harper became Prime Minister in 2006, and since then he and his caucus have worked with diligence to drain that lifeblood. A most effective tool has been funding cuts to slow the flow of information, followed closely by looking the other way when government ministries, agencies, and anyone subject to information legislation simply refuse to comply with the law.

In a parliamentary system like ours, the Prime Minister is but one office, and culpability is shared among the many who form the government. Almost every day, our newspapers give us cause for alarm, and one can wonder just how long before the media itself becomes a target. Farfetched perhaps, but history tells us that far worse happens when people ignore what is in front of them.

What do we do about this? Unfortunately, too many Canadians align with a comment in a letter to the Toronto Star editor in September of 2013 which read, “If you don’t know what’s going on, you have a perfect excuse to do nothing.”

We hear too the talk of choice. If not what we have now, then what? Consider the “Ford Solution.” In the fall of 2014, David Soknacki was announcing his withdrawal from Toronto’s race for mayor. He wouldn’t endorse another candidate, but as he turned away from the microphones, very clearly all could hear him say, “My cat would make a better mayor than Rob Ford.” Does it really matter who the next Prime Minister is, as long as it’s not Stephen Harper?

Gosh! Nobody’s done anything wrong!

On November 2, of 2014, I posted “Body of complaint letter to Quebec College des medecins”. Dr. Michel Joyal responded on behalf of the College in a two-page letter dated February 16, exonerating Dr. Lesage after an examination of the records. “I am therefore left to conclude that there was no breach of any kind on his part”, Dr. Joyal wrote. He also attached the necessary document should we choose to ask their Review Committee for a second opinion. We won’t be doing that. As I wrote in my March 6 letter to Dr. Joyal in answer (which follows here), “My February 16th (sic) letter was intended to put Brennan Guigue’s position on the record.” (My letter was actually dated October 31)

March 6, 2015

Michel Joyal, M.D., Assistant Syndic,
Collége des médecins du Québec,
2170 Réne Lévesque Blvd. West,
Montreal, QC H3H 2T8

Re: Doctor David Lesage/Patient: M. Brennan Wayne Guigue/Your file: 54856

Doctor Joyal:

I’m in receipt of your February 16th letter in response to mine of October 31st.

To quote a relevant paragraph: “After careful examination of all the documents consulted, I believe that Dr. Lesage’s clinical approach during your son’s assessment on August 19, 2014, was appropriate and in keeping with established standards. After his assessment, he issued a prescription consistent with his diagnostic opinion and, given the difficulty in positing a more precise diagnosis, referred him to a medical specialist. I am therefore left to conclude that there was no breach of any kind on his part.”

We did not anticipate a different outcome to your inquiry. My February 16th letter was intended to put Brennan Guigue’s position on the record. After a long wait, my son is only now about to consult with a specialist in the community. In the meantime, all remedies prescribed by various health-care professionals have been for naught, but we’re confident there is a connection between his present condition and the chemical assault at the Regional Reception Centre in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines on July 22 of last year.

Brennan Guigue’s recollection of his contacts with health-care professionals at Donnacona Institution from July 23rd onwards is as presented in my letter, regardless of what any records may suggest to the contrary. Nonetheless, I am satisfied with your due diligence in investigating my complaint, and I thank you for a reasonably prompt reply.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
Dr. David Lesage, Centre Méd. Hochelaga, Montreal
Elain Tousigmant, Deputy Commissioner, Regional Headquarters – Quebec
Marc Lamoie, Director/Warden, Donnacona Institution, Donnacona
Stephen Fineberg, Montreal
Brennan Guigue, Toronto

….and, I had to say something.

To compliment the February 26th entry to “Justice for Brennan Guigue”, Frédéric Héran’s February 12th letter needed a follow-up. Here’s my March 2nd response to Mr. Héran, and a March 6th letter to the Director/Warden at the Regional Reception Centre in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines north of Montreal. Both are self-explanatory.

March 2, 2015

Frédéric Héran, Manager of Investigations,
Office of the Correctional Investigator,
P.O. Box 3421, Station “D”,
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L4

Dear Mr. Héran:

On behalf of Brennan Wayne Guigue, thank you for your February 12th letter regarding your Office’s findings around the July 22nd incident at RCC at Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines. He acknowledges that the OCI has now closed this file.

Brennan Guigue will continue to have an interest in this, however, as RCC staff members not only acted inappropriately, as you concluded, but contravened CSC policy on the use of OC, and behaved criminally as well. Needless to say, they also violated provisions of international treaties on the treatment of prisoners to which this country is a signatory. In addition, there is a real and probable possibility other inmates have been subject to the same abuse. One point that did not come to light here was the “seed” from which this experience sprang, but then, the reasons that ignite and inflame these situations rarely do.

These concerns are outside your purview of course, but Brennan appreciates the work you and your Office has done to bring the substance of this incident to CSC’s attention.
In gratitude, I am,

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
cc Stephen Fineberg, Montreal
Don Head, Ottawa
Brennan Guigue

March 6, 2015

Stephane Lalande, Director,
Regional Reception Centre,
246 Montée Gagnon,
Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, QC
J0N 1H0

Re: Brennan Wayne Guigue, FPS104902C
RCC use-of-force incident, July 22, 2014

Director Lalande:

The Office of the Correctional Investigator wrote Brennan Guigue on February 12 to say that with respect to the July 22, 2014 use-of-force incident at RCC, “the conclusion of the local management and the regional review from Correction (sic) Service Canada (CSC) which is consistent with our review of the fact that the level of force used was inappropriate and inconsistent with the Situation Management Model.”

This circumstance began when a guard made an unwarranted and unjustifiable decision contrary to CSC practice. Other CSC staff members escalated what should have been resolved quickly and without fanfare into an “inappropriate” action that also contravened both CSC policy and the manufacturer’s recommendations on the proper use of OC, crossed the line into criminality, and violated the provisions of international treaties on the treatment of prisoners to which this country is a signatory. In addition, there is a real and probable possibility other inmates have been subject to this same abuse.

According to the OCI letter referenced above, “CSC has identified and completed the corrective actions to address the concerns our Office had in regard to this incident.” This writer objects to the disregard for the law and CSC directives by many CSC employees on the one hand, and the absence of substantive consequences on the other. It’s important the public is made aware when civil servants do not act in our best interests, and I am keen to be an instrument to that end.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen
cc blind copies