by Jim Bertram

In my wanderings through town, I am often asked how the “Great Jail Debate” is going. My usual tactic is to throw the ball back and ask how the questioner would like to see it go.

So far, in the only count I have done involving 200 persons, only approximately 8 have favoured the building of a new jail in Kemptville. In my experience, then, most residents of Kemptville by far line up against the jail. By a score of 200 to 8. Quite a score. That’s why I fight on this issue.

Alright, but how about an assessment of the strength of claims made by Mr. Clark and Council in favour of the jail? How about the “economic growth” argument put forward by the province and the Mayor last autumn.

Oops. Not so, said the province a few weeks ago, contradicting its own position of last autumn. Just as I argued in one of my articles last year, economic growth due to the prison is not going to happen.

In spite of the extensive references to Canadian and American research in my past articles, Council echoed Mr. Clark’s line last October touting significant economic growth owing to the new prison. Turns out that the “500 jobs” the province touted so snappily early on were in reference to growth for the whole province.

So – manipulation, misplaced facts, obfuscation with a political twist. Your choice.

The Mayor is now quoted in the NG Times, in the face of provincial backing down on the topic, as saying there will be “some employment”. Hmmm. I see. Employment score: 500 to some (5 or 10?) Poor score! Abysmal! Disgraceful and deceptive line of argument.

Well, alright, not a very good score so far for the province and Council. But what about transparency? How are they doing there on the prison issue? Surely, with all the resources at their command, the score here should be immaculate and resoundingly positive. Well – not quite! I conclude from extensive experience on this issue over the last 9 months that the best way to use the word transparent concerning the province-Council team is to not use it at all, and substitute the word murky, or opaque, in its stead.

For example, JOG and CAPP made an Access to Information Request concerning the Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex (the jail) some time ago. After pursuing the matter, of the 145 pages of government documentation in existence, I am told that CAPP and JOG received – – wait for it now (DRUM ROLL)- 10 pages. Ten out of 145 pages! Wow. If that was an exam, the candidate would be getting a 10 out of 145. A score of 6.89%.

And I would say that is typical of the casual disregard with which well-motivated questions by concerned citizens about the jail have been received by Council and Province. Lovely score for so-called transparency on the part of taxpayer supported government.

In addition, the province wants, of course, to AVOID paying its way in terms of property taxes. Once again, the province wants the local taxpayer to pick up the tab for provincial spending by being allowed to pay a small occupancy charge per prisoner, in lieu of paying its share of taxes. Who pays the difference between occupancy charges and the amount due under a fair tax regime? Yeah – you know. Take a look in the mirror.

The one-time only 2022 International Plowing Match is the “last man standing” of benefits supposedly due, according to the Mayor, to the imposition of the jail. Well, I’ll agree it is nicely placed close to an election for a credit accruing to Council. But if there is anyone dull enough to think the alleged potential plowing match is a fair trade for the imposition of a jail on this town, that person is beyond the workings of rational discussion.

I have much more to say, but must surely stop here in fear of the editor’s axe, kind though he be. Help JOG and CAPP help you and your town.

Stand up! Take a lawn sign now to help make our campaign for Kemptville visible! Please.


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