A significant protest against the proposed Kemptville prison took place outside Steve Clark’s constituency office in Brockville last week. Around 60 people from North Grenville brought their signs, t-shirts, and concerns home to the local MPP and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP) and the Jail Opposition Group (JOG) arranged the protest, and they were joined by concerned citizens, including Liberal candidate for North Grenville, Josh Bennett and members of the media.
The protest was moderated by Colleen Lynas of CAPP who said a few words to the crowd, as did Kirk Albert of JOG. The protesters marched from a nearby park to Mr. Clark’s office, chanting and calling on Steve to come out and talk to them. Although there were reports that he was in the office, and had briefly watched the group gather at the park, he did not make an appearance while the marchers were in front of his office.
Kirk Albert from JOG explains a few of the reasons for staging the event:
“We want to remind MPP Clark that the residents of Kemptville and the surrounding Municipality of North Grenville have a voice, and that our collective voice has been communicating legitimate concerns about all aspects of this proposed prison for over a year now which he has distanced himself from. We want to remind him and the Ford Government that, as constituents, we are the people who will be directly impacted by this plan, and that continuing to by-pass public consultation and public input is not only dismissive and undemocratic, it is also not what we expect from our own MPP and other elected officials. It is time for the government to admit that mistakes have been made. They need to reconsider their proposed plan rather than heedlessly continuing to impose the prison on a rural town where the government’s own documents indicate that the location doesn’t meet their requirements.”
There is a great deal of anger and disillusionment surrounding Steve Clark, owing to his role in bringing the proposed prison to North Grenville, and specifically with what are seen as misleading statements made by the Ford government about the economic benefits that would come with the prison.
“After the announcement, we looked into these claims and consulted leading prison experts”, explains Victor Lachance of CAPP. “The touted economic benefits for our community have been proven false and all signs point to an increase in property taxes, and undue strain on our local infrastructure, healthcare, and other resources. Reasons for opposition are wide-ranging and include not only local concerns, but broader economic, social justice and environmental issues, and disbelief in the undemocratic and arrogant behaviour of office holders in Queen’s Park including our MPP Steve Clark.”
A notice from Minister Clark is published in this issue of the Times announcing what he terms a “public engagement on the design of the new facility in Kemptville” to be held in November.