After I had got over my initial outrage at the arrogance and high-handed way in which Ford and Clark had handled the jail announcement, my next thought was “welcome to the perils of a safe seat”. I have read with interest the views of supporters of this government, for whom taxes and property values seem to be paramount, and can’t help but notice that these same people remain silent when the Ford government decides to do similar anti-democratic, anti-social and anti-environmental things to others. This is what happens when you don’t hold governments to account. Our chickens have indeed come home to roost.
They aren’t wrong to be concerned about taxes. After all, it was a Harris Conservative government that downloaded police costs from the province onto municipalities, (and a few other things as well), so no doubt there will be some fiscal price to pay there. When these people complain about municipal taxes, they might want to remember that they were complicit, having supported a government that does these sort of things.
This seems to be a mantra of Conservative governments, cutting programs to save taxes, or dumping them onto municipalities, though they seldom tell you that last part when campaigning for election. We still end up paying for it, one way or another. Cuts in support services not only cost jobs, they force the poor and the disadvantaged among us into desperate situations whereby they make poor decisions, and end up on the wrong side of the law. We then end up paying far more to incarcerate them than we would in supporting them. That is both unfair and counterproductive.
It is interesting that, in order to reduce the chances of Covid 19 outbreaks in our prisons, hundreds of inmates, mostly those who have been accused of minor crimes, have been released on bail. There has been absolutely no surge in crime, which leads to the question: ‘just why these people are being incarcerated in the first place”? I read an article recently on the Toronto South Detention Centre, in which the situation was so bad that the Ontario Supreme Court has characterised conditions there as “Inhumane, and fail to comport with basic standards of human decency”. We have every right to be outraged that our town is being used to expand a failed and inhumane correctional system.
Building new jails is an admission of failure in controlling the system. The money being put aside for this would be better spent on restoring funding to social programs, such as crime prevention, mental health, workers education, etc., that keep people out of jail in the first place.
If Ford cared about keeping communities safe, if he cared about basic humane treatment inside our institutions, if he cared about good financial stewardship, new jails would not be built in anybody’s back yard. But Ford has admitted that he is looking at this complex to fuel, in part, our economic recovery. It is all about money.
Personally, I am more in tune with the opinions of your correspondents, Colleen Lynas and Veronique Roy, inasmuch as it is also about our quality of life, and what this prison is going to do in degrading it, particularly with it being built just across the road from the Kemptville Campus, in which so much of our time and energy has already been invested.
Then, when you factor in that this building is being located on prime farmland, and that there is a major concern regarding the lack of infrastructure in place to service this facility, you have to wonder just what Ford and Clark were thinking.