by Jim Bertram

Imagine the following analogy for a moment: you are feeling ill. Chills. Slight temperature. Given that it’s “Covid Time”, you do what is necessary: get a Covid test and go home to wait for results. For several days. Finally, you get a call from your doctor calling you to their office to discuss your situation. You arrive. The doctor outlines the various information bits, and summarizes your symptoms.

“Well?”, you ask. Your doctor looks at you and says: “Well, I’m waiting for more information from the Ministry of Health in Toronto – and they’re very busy you know.”

You reply: “But you have my physical symptoms, my positive test, and months of medical reference information concerning possible effects and treatment of the disease. What ARE we waiting for?”

“Well”, says the doctor, “one never knows. There just might be something new that we don’t know about right now, don’t you think?”

You reply: “ Look, we know what Covid is. And what it does. We know I’ve got it. Medicine already has compiled a huge amount of useful information on this illness. So, let’s go. Use your medical skills to treat me.”

Of course, the patient in the analogy is becoming impatient because the doctor, with great amounts of information at hand owing to research over the last several months, insists on waiting for possible small additions to that accumulated pile of information before launching a treatment program for them.

Now let’s jump to another problem where I feel a similar degree of frustration. That problem is the threat posed economically, tax-wise, crime-rate wise, social development-wise, and environmentally by the prison which Mr. Clark’s government has decided, without a moment of consultation, to abusively inflict on the town of Kemptville. A series of articles, comments, and letters by various community members have pointed to serious “symptoms”, which the jail, like an illness, would cause with the completion of the jail project – a life sentence for the people of Kemptville, once built.

Such results, or “symptoms”, are known to be associated with the imposition of prisons in small towns. These results have been tabulated in many studies carried out in Canada and the United States. I have written on the subject and distributed references concerning those research projects to all who asked. Those who read the studies became more informed on the subject, as did I myself after having read them in early September.

And yet, there are those, like the doctor in the Covid analogy above, who can’t make up their minds about the problem before them, notwithstanding the great amounts of information readily available on the subject. I expect they have refused to take the opportunity to inform themselves from the voluminous research work already done and available. They do, in fact, declare that they must wait for further information to come from the very people who have made the very bad political decision to impose the jail on Kemptville, in order to satisfy their own political needs. They really believe they will get a complete and honest picture from those in government who are doing their level worst to hide the truth about the jail from the people of Kemptville.

Am I the only person who sees what’s wrong with such a naive and dependent way of thinking? I have expended quite a bit of effort, working with other members of our community, to get our provincial government to take the jail decision back and allow Kemptville residents time to become fully aware of what is happening to their little town with the proposal of this jail. Of course, that would allow residents to learn that no long-term economic development would ensue following the building of the proposed jail. Only heavy taxes, increased criminal activity, and a long-term economic decline relative to other small towns which have no prison. Readers: that is not MY opinion. It is the condensed opinion of numerous American and Canadian researchers studying the economic and social effects of jails on small towns. Once again, if you don’t want to take my word, write me and I’ll send you references to research in the field. I have yet to find an independent research report which contradicts the above findings.

To conclude: we are told by some that we need to wait for information. Personally, I prefer the information available from disinterested researchers to the shaped and very smooth and selective presentations of a provincial government which seeks to save money and satisfy interests in Ottawa on the backs of Kemptville and other North Grenville taxpayers. That is basically the nub of the issue. So, beware my friends. Covid is not the only dangerous disease out there at this time. Fight back by being independently informed.


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