Ontario? What rules?

………and 25 Grosvenor Street pretends not to know.

September 7, 2018

Minister Michael Tibollo,
Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
25 Grosvenor Street, Toronto

Re: It ain’t easy!

Dear Minister Tibollo:

I characterize your unflattering assessment of the previous government’s management of MCCS as partisan, and frankly dishonest. I concede a lack of experience in this portfolio leaves you unaware of the walls Marie-France Lalonde, David Orazietti, and Yasir Naqvi encountered. Surely you can’t believe these Liberal ministers didn’t attempt to push an elephantine bureaucracy towards a more enlightened 21st century purposeful perspective?

My specialty focuses more on provincial jails than policing, and the 2016 appointment of Howard Sapers as the Independent Advisor on Corrections’ Reform to the Ontario Government was welcome and progressive. That Bill 195 which adopted several of his recommendations never received Royal Assent is a setback, and I urge you to review Mr. Sapers’ work as you go forward with your agenda.

Know though that any overt staff sycophantic enthusiasm for whatever you propose will be coupled with a shrouded obstructionist determination to derail change. CBC’s August 23 posting, “Convicted drug dealer faced ‘oppressive’ conditions inside Toronto jail, judge rules” is only one instance of how little concrete has been accomplished to bring Toronto South Detention Centre’s operations up to standard. And, I’ve exampled but one facet in one institution.

MCCS needs an enema. It won’t be easy.

cc Sam Erry, Deputy Minister/Corrections

Michael Tibollo is a rookie Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP who came under strong criticism for wearing a bullet-proof vest on a police ride-along in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, a predominantly black community with a history of gang violence.

The CBC posting cites frequent lockdowns and poor treatment in freeing a small-time drug dealer from the Toronto South Detention Centre. Justice Katrina Mulligan noted “unduly harsh custodial conditions” at TSDC in her ruling, described them as “qualitatively oppressive and physically detrimental”, aggravated by “questionable” medical treatment. Judges continue to message Ontario’s ministry in many decisions for what they consider a bad situation.


Oath of Allegiance

“I, …………………… , do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors according to the law.
So help me God. (Omit this phrase in an affirmation)”

Oath of Office and Secrecy

“I, ………………….. , do swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties as a civil servant and will observe and comply with the laws of Canada and Ontario, and, except as I may be legally authorized or required, I will not disclose or give to any person any information or document that comes to my knowledge or possession by reason of my being a civil servant.
So help me God. (Omit this phrase in an affirmation)”

These are the oaths sworn by Ontario’s civil servants, including guards and staff at the province’s jails.
So, what do they mean to our jail guards? Not much.


We have anecdotal evidence in two specific areas, primarily at Toronto South Detention Centre, although conditions should be considered uniform throughout the provinces prison industry.

Nothing has changed in Ontario in spite of the previous government’s commitment to improve MCCS and plans by the new government to do the same. Institutional staff is not paying attention to policy, procedure, or the law in some cases, if it doesn’t meet an anti-inmate agenda, believing guards and middle-management can act with impunity.

Reducing the use of solitary confinement as an objective prompted guards to create segregation cells on population ranges. They simply select the most isolated cell on a range, use it for segregation, allow the subject inmate out for two hours per day as prescribed, but only when other inmates on that range are locked away.


What’s the problem? Manifold and many, no question, and they won’t be resolved even with a total rethinking of the penal system. A requisite first step though is accountability, now nowhere to be seen. And good luck to anyone at MCCS to get that idea past the guards’ union!


One thought on “Ontario? What rules?

  1. “Correctional ministry won’t release video of inmate’s last hours.” I don’t understand how this statement could exist. Isn’t this obstruction of justice? Why can’t the OPP just enter the ministry’s office and take the video. Civil and administrative rights are essential but when it impacts the course of justice there should be no rights to protect the irresponsible obstruction of evidence. Marshal law is frightening but essential in certain circumstances. That’s, of course, is only good with responsible government. Do we have responsible government at any level? There are a lot of “Little Trumps” throughout starting at the top.


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