More of our tax dollars at work.

“Do you job….or pay!” was published on June 19 of last year. An Ontario superior court justice awarded two provincial jail inmates at total of $85,000 in compensation for the excessive use of lockdowns in a Milton, Ontario jail.

The two had some legal advice, but as was noted in this post, “Both men represented themselves in court.”

Jamil Ogiamien’s $60,000 portion of the award was to be paid jointly by the province and federal government, since Ottawa was responsible for his detention. He was being held pending a deportation hearing, a removal to Nigeria, a country he left as a child and with which he had no connection.

Subsequently, in late October, Mr. Ogiamien was ordered out of the country at the end of the first week of November. However, in the months after that June award decision, Ontario and Ottawa appealed the ruling, but the hearing was not scheduled until February. Under those circumstances, he’d be gone from Canada and end up with nothing. A last-minute reprieve was granted the day before the deportation order took effect, although border enforcement officials would not give a reason for the temporary suspension.

As an aside, it should be noted that Mr. Ogiamien was charged with impaired driving and possession of cannabis in April of 2013, was acquitted a year later, but was still held under an immigration detention order.

Going back to the original action and award, where two inmates representing themselves in court, taking on the province and feds over jail conditions, and then winning a judgement over the arguments of government lawyers, we were curious about how much taxpayers were billed. Accessing information only from the province of Ontario, we asked, “What legal costs did the Ministry of the Attorney General incur defending this action?”

The answer: Please be advised that this matter was assigned to salaried staff. As a result, the only legal costs incurred for this file have been disbursements. To date (December 20, 2016), the total amount of disbursements incurred in relation to this matter is $9,571.47. This includes disbursements in connection with Ontario’s ongoing appeal of the superior court decision.

It’s not difficult to estimate the salaries and benefits for a few government lawyers over the period of time this case is working its way through the system. Certainly, the figure would multiply the amount of disbursements a number of times.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just not violate the human rights standards the government itself sets in the first place?

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