Last week, in The Globe and Mail, Brian Topp wrote that a little discussed part of the government's Omnibus Crime Bill represents a significant change in policy at Canadian prisons:
To be specific, the Tories want to amend article 4(d) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (1992). The relevant clause establishes the principle “that the service use the least restrictive measures consistent with the protection of the public, staff members and offenders.
Apparently that change had been recommended in a report to former Public Security Minister Stockwell Day back in 2007:
The panel believes that this principle has been emphasized too much by staff and management of CSC, and even by the courts in everyday decision-making about offenders. As a result an imbalance has been created that places the onus on SCS to justify why the least restrictive measures shouldn't be used, rather than on offenders to justify why they should have access to privileges based on their performance under their correctional plans.
Anyone who has followed this government over the years should not find this bit of information surprising. In fact, it is entirely consistent with the worldview of the present powers that be. But as a former senior official of Corrections Canada told Topp:
I've had meetings with prison administrators, and then I've explored every corner of our prisons right down into the hole. I know what's going to happen if they take that clause out of the Act. What's going to happen is that guards are going to feel free to use more force, a lot more force, to control inmates. There's going to be an enormous rise in violence in our prison system.
All of this confirms what should be perfectly obvious by now. The Harper government is a government out for vengeance. Topp writes:
In all of this, the Conservatives are demonstrating the real character of their government. This is rule by angry old uncle. A character in many families, not without his charm and soft side, who shouts his angry views for the hundredth time, demanding firm measures and an end to many abuses, even if the facts all point the other way.
These folks aren't simply grumpy old men.They are angry old men. Even Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt, when she muses about declaring the economy an essential service, sounds like an angry old man. The Prime Minister of Canada -- at the ripe old age of fifty-two -- is an angry old man. One gets the impression that he was an angry old man when he was in diapers.