Prison media relations – what’s next?

WHEN WILL the powers in charge step in?
We wanted to know.

October 17, 2022

The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety,
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Re:      Correctional Service of Canada,
Commissioner’s Directive 022 – Media Relations

Dear Minister Mendicino:

The CD-022 revision to bring Correctional Service of Canada policies for inmate contacts with the media in compliance with the Charter and “recognized democratic principles,” as Correctional Investigator Dr. Ivan Zinger wrote, began almost three years ago.

Specifically, thirty-four months ago.

“Prisoners talking to the media…..what’s the problem?”, my October 9th posting, is enclosed.  It’s a chronology of the initial written contact on CD-022 between Dr. Zinger and Commissioner Kelly, followed by my numerous exchanges with CSC, the OCI, plus two queries to your office which were ignored.

So, just where is this new media relations directive?  As CSC’s Colette Cibula wrote on July 28 of this year, “It is an important policy that helps us ensure that we are being transparent about Correctional Service of Canada to increase public trust and confidence.”

Where is the transparency?  What public trust and confidence?

Why is CSC holding out?  Explanations?  Plenty.  Excuses?  None.

Do you care?

Charles H. Klassen

This was copied to:-

Ms. Pam Damoff, MP, Parliamentary Secretary, Minister of Public Safety

The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth,
MP, Toronto Centre

Mr. Rob Stewart, Deputy Minister of Public Safety, Public Safety Canada

Ms. Tricia Geddes, Associate Deputy Minister of Public Safety, Public Safety Canada

Dr. Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator,    Ms. Stacie Ogg, Deputy Director,
Office of the Correctional Investigator          Office of the Correctional Investigator

Mr. Patrick White, The Globe and Mail, Toronto

We sent this covering letter with Dr. Zinger’s copy:-

October 17, 2022

Dr. Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator,
The Office of the Correctional Investigator,
Ottawa, ON  K1P 6L4

Re:      Commissioner’s Directive 022 – Media Relations

Dear Dr. Zinger:

CSC’s Colette Cibula wrote in a July 28, 2022, letter to me:  “Part of the consultation for CD-022 included the Office of the Correctional Investigator which has been very helpful.”

I’m pleased you were involved in the process, but I suspect CSC is trying to rewrite the media relations directive to appear to comply with the Charter and the law while changing nothing in practice.  After all, that’s not only a systemic CSC objective in general, but CSC does not want inmates speaking with the media where it is at all possible to prevent it.

I’m sure you’re aware that inmates have always been able to reach print and broadcast journalists through undetectable cell phone connections.  Just so, you also know the publication of identifiable unauthorized material is subject to CSC sanctions.

In any case, an argument can be made that at this point that the CD-022 revision is no longer simply delayed.  It’s stalled.  I’ve enclosed your copy of a letter to Minister Mendicino and a relevant posting.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

So, is this going to get results?  Wishful thinking?  Something concrete other than giving politicians and civil servants heartburn and indigestion?  We are always prepared to be surprised.

What’s next


Prisoners talking to the media…….what’s the problem?

Correctional Service of Canada Commissioner’s Directive 022 – Media Relations lays out the policy for management, staff, and inmate contacts with the fourth estate.  CSC must revise inmate/media policy.  It’s been underway for two and a half years.  Here’s…   


December 18, 2019 – Correctional Investigator Dr. Ivan Zinger writes to Correctional Service of Canada Commissioner Anne Kelly with concerns that where CD 022 governs inmate contacts with media may not be Charter compliant and “in violation of recognized democratic principles.”

February 24, 2020 – Anne Kelly responds, advises “a revision of CD 022 in currently underway,” and, “we have reviewed the comments that you and your organization provided when CD 022 was distributed for external consultation on February 4, 2020.”  Moreover, “we expect that the revised CD 022 will be available by the end of June 2020.”

June 26, 2020 – Dr. Ivan Zinger submits his OCI 2019-2020 Annual Report to the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety.  Page 18 is headed “Inmate Access to the Media.”

May 6, 2021 – Our letter to Anne Kelly questions the delay in publishing the new directive.

June 22, 2021 – Our letter to Ivan Zinger refers to the above letter, adding “I do expect you have not let this matter ‘slip through the cracks’”.

August 27, 2021 – Email from Stacie Ogg, OCI Deputy Director, writing on behalf of Ivan Zinger says their office is in contact with CSC and OCI will “provide additional information when there is more information to share.”

November 29, 2021 – Our letter to Marco Mendicino, copied to Anne Kelly, Ivan Zinger and Patrick White (Globe and Mail), again questions the delay with the revision.

February 8, 2022 – Email from Colette Cibula, Associate Assistant, Communications & Engagement, CSC, acknowledges our May 6 letter to Anne Kelly.  “The renewal of the directive…is still underway.  It was delayed as the tempo of media relations as well as the need for communications with inmates, staff, stakeholders increased significantly during the pandemic.  I can assure you that it is now nearly complete.  We have conducted external consultations and are finalizing internal reviews before publishing it.”

February 10, 2022 – Our email to Colette Cibula acknowledges her Feb. 8th.  “CSC has made a point of headlining transparency as you referenced and having Charter compliant policies is paramount to meeting that objective.  True accountability and transparency are only possible however if the offenders in your care have an equal opportunity to lawfully communicate with the world outside the walls.”

February 10, 2022 – We forwarded the above two emails to Stacie Ogg.  She replied that same day with thanks for the information.  “It is quite helpful.”

February 21, 2022 – Our letter to Marco Mendicino notes he did not respond to mine of November 29th and included this excerpt from Colette Cibula’s Feb. 8th email, “I can assure you that it (CD 022 revision) is now nearly complete.”  To the minister, “It is now approaching two years since the Service undertook to rewrite this directive.  It leads one to wonder just what it is that you all fear from inmate access to media?”

April 20, 2022 – Our access to information request asks, “what documentation do you have to show how many inmates were included in the communications, and the names of the institutions in which they are housed?” referring to Colette Cibula’s February 8 email.  (“The prison industry & media attention,” posted June 26, 2022, questioned CSC’s inmate inclusion in the communications for the CD 022 revision.  Colette Cibula responded on behalf of ATIP CSC on June 27 to say the communications referred to delays with the revision caused by messaging and materials to inmates regarding COVID-19.  As she put it, “I did not indicate in my message that inmates were among the people consulted in the revision of CD-22 Media Relations.”  A careful reading of her February 8 email would indicate she was correct, and we misinterpreted her meaning.  CSC does not consult inmates regarding policy, as we wrote.)

April 24, 2022 – Our email to Stacy Ogg, “Well, we’re still waiting, aren’t we?  Dr. Zinger, you, and the staff at OCI have boundless patience with CSC, don’t you.”

June 18, 2022 – Our letter to Colette Cibula, copied to Anne Kelly, Marco Mendicino and Stacie Ogg, reviewed our correspondence, referenced her February 8 email where the revision was “still underway,” was “nearly complete,” and that CSC was “finalizing internal reviews.” 
“I write simply to stress the interest some quarters in the community have for an imminent circulation of the revised CD,” we wrote.

June 27, 2022 – The Colette Cibula email referenced in the April 20 italicized paragraph above concluded with “CD-22 is in the final stages of approval before being published.”

July 8, 2022 – Another email to Stacie Ogg at OCI quoting Colette Cibula from February 8th “I can assure you that it (CD-022) is now nearly complete,” and “CD-22 is in the final stages of approval before being published” from June 27.
“Good gracious,” I wrote Stacie Ogg, “five months to go from ‘nearly complete’ to ‘final stages of approval.’”

July 28, 2022 – Letter from Colette Cibula in response to my June 18th.  “I am happy to commit to you, Mr. Klassen, to share with you the CD directly once is it promulgated.  In short order.”

There have been at least five entries on this one subject.  To date, there’s nothing to see.  What’s next?