The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society were scheduled to be in court on January 3rd of this year to begin the first ever comprehensive challenge of solitary confinement practices in federal prisons. As their literature put it, “International bodies and experts, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, have been unwilling to mince words. Solitary by any other name is still torture.”
In the middle of December last year, a judge postponed the start of the case until July 4 due to a “reasonable expectation” that federal legislation will be enacted. BCCLA and John Howard will continue to prepare their case to ensure proposed reforms meet the expected standards.
This excerpt from the March 5th post, “Segregation – a federal snapshot”, is relevant to a Toronto Globe and Mail item published last week in its May 9 edition. A letter to Justin Trudeau voices the concern………….
May 16, 2017
Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Office of the Prime Minister,
80 Wellington Street,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Re: Ashley Smith inquest recommendations
Dear Prime Minister:
Your letter to the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould in 2015 instructed the minister to implement changes to the prison system as recommended by the Ashley Smith inquest. This included the scrutiny of Correctional Service Canada solitary confinement policies.
Justice Peter Leask of the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled on May 8 that a suit by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society first brought in January of 2015 can proceed, as no legislation to reform segregation has appeared. This action, which claims solitary confinement violates Charter rights, was originally scheduled to begin in January of this year. The trial was delayed until July when your government applied for an adjournment, arguing new legislation would address the issue.
Do not let yourself or members of your government be cowed, obstructed and delayed by CSC management or UCCO-SACC-CSN(*) members. Correctional Service has had more than sufficient time to do right, and do it without government prodding. Expediency and efficiency demands Don Head and his subordinates at 340 Laurier Avenue West(*) be swept away, and replaced by progressive revisionists in some European and African countries.
You have both the mandate and the power to do just that.
Charles H. Klassen
cc Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Honourable Ralph Goodale
(*)UCCO-SACC-CSN is the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, representing prison guards, and 340 Laurier Avenue West is the Ottawa address of the National Headquarters of Correctional Service Canada.
The Globe’s May 9th “Ottawa fails to act in time to stop lawsuit on segregation” is an ideal example of how well-intentioned objectives are subverted by opposing agendas.
Are the prime minister and his cabinet falling prey to the same tactics that have thwarted government innovators since the dawn of democracy?
We’ll examine how this works next time……