What say you, Minister?

Matthew Hines died in the Dorchester Penitentiary on May 27, 2015. For 13 months, his family in Cape Breton believed what they were told by Correctional Service of Canada, which said that Hines, who had a history of seizures, died from a drug-induced seizure.

CSC’s press release at the time said Hines was “found in need of medical attention” and staff “immediately” performed CPR.

Correctional Service of Canada’s own internal board of investigation report was released to the family in June of this year, and among other findings, noted that correctional staff were with Hines throughout the incident and prison medical staff did not treat him. It’s likely the cause of death was oxygen starvation after Hines was pepper sprayed five times by guards, four times by one guard within one minute.

No matter the CSC policy, it is common practice for prison guards to not only target the face, but the mouth in particular. The agency didn’t comment on the particulars of these policy violations.

Not only has a coroner’s final report on the cause of death not been released after 15 months, but Gregory Forestell, New Brunswick’s chief coroner, won’t say when the information will be made available.

It’s at this point that CBC News stepped in with its own August 22nd and 24th investigative reports. Google “Matthew Hines” for two relevant entries:- “Prison guards in N.B. used ‘inappropriate’ force”, and “Public must know what happened to Matthew Hines”.

In the second posting, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale insists that allegations of inappropriate behavior be “thoroughly and transparently investigated.”

First, we wrote the New Brunswick coroner on August 24. After all, it doesn’t inspire confidence in our public institutions to have agencies from two levels of government appear to collude in withholding important information from the family and to which the public is entitled.

August 24, 2016

Gregory J. Forestell, Chief Coroner,
Office of the Chief Coroner,
Department of Public Safety, Province of New Brunswick,
P.O. Box 6000,
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5HI

Re: Matthew Hines

Dear Chief Coroner Forestell:

I am a Correctional Service of Canada ‘specialist’, which means I would defer to an ‘expert’, but have nonetheless tracked the agency for over twenty years. I characterize CSC as dishonest, abusive, morally and ethically corrupt, and a blot on the landscape of this country. Supporting evidence is plentiful, and the circumstances around the death of Matthew Hines is a recent example.

According to “CBC Investigates”, fifteen months after Mr. Hines death, your office has not submitted a final report as to the cause of death and gives no indication when it will.

One wonders why. Speculation of your reasons for the delay can only fuel a distrust of the good work your office undertakes, and misgivings for your intent. Mr. Hines family is more than entitled to know your findings, no matter the consequences.

I encourage you to act promptly.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

We made an unsuccessful attempt to reach one of Matthew Hines’ sisters, intending to encourage her to speak to a lawyer. Her voice mail was full and it’s probable she’s had all the advice needed to pursue a remedy for the ordeal her brother suffered.

Then we dropped Ralph Goodale a line.  Again, if he feels so strongly about transparency in the public service, why are we having such difficulty getting Correctional Service of Canada to produce relevant material about Brennan Guigue’s July 22, 2014 tortuous experience in Montreal.

September 19, 2016

The Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Matthew Hines/Brennan Guigue

Dear Minister Goodale:

“But let me be clear that there can be no tolerance for inappropriate use of force or other serious misconduct.”

This is part of the statement issued by your office Wednesday evening, August 24, referencing the death of inmate Matthew Hines at Dorchester Penitentiary back on May 27, 2015. You not only insist the public has a right to know what happened to Mr. Hines, but “any allegation of inappropriate behavior must be thoroughly and transparently investigated.”

I agree. You reserve comment because this is under investigation by Correctional Service of Canada, but it’s no secret to federal inmates that guards using OC in aerosol cans target the mouth area, violating both policy and best practice.

If this is your position with respect to Matthew Hines, it should be no different in the matter of inmate Brennan Guigue who was pepper sprayed at the Regional Reception Centre in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines on July 22, 2014. Mr. Guigue did not die as a result of this assault but the actions of CSC guards are no less questionable, disturbing, and deserving of a thorough and transparent investigation….and public disclosure.

There are a very few distinctions between the two incidents. One of import is that an OC aerosol can was used on Mr. Hines while guards at the RCC in Montreal deployed an OC canister with a nozzle to ‘paint’ Mr. Guigue’s naked body with pepper spray. Extensive data is published at http://www.turnoverarocktoday.com, scroll to Justice for Brennan Guigue.

It begins with “Just another day on the range? The Guigue summary”, published on September 26, 2014; three posts later see “Material/evidence requested from CSC” from November 2 of 2014. Of particular note much later is “…..now we have the names” from April 17 of this year.

Correctional Service of Canada management confirms there were “violations of law or CSC policy” on July 22, 2014, but thumbs its nose at our attempts for disclosure. We have not had a satisfactory and complete response from CSC to our information and privacy requests, the agency is withholding incriminating video evidence in particular in spite of the alarming nature of the assault, and all staff members involved are still employed by CSC. In the meantime, the outcome of an investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is pending.

“….there can be no tolerance for inappropriate use of force or other serious misconduct.”

What say you, Minister!

Charles H. Klassen

cc Honourable Bill Morneau
Stephen Fineberg
Brennan Guigue



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