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June 15, 2001
Billboard launch exposes tax break
billboard launched this week by Citizens Against Private Prisons (CAPP) will
send a loud and clear message to all residents of Simcoe County. The message
should be hard to ignore, especially by Simcoe North Tory MPP Garfield Dunlop.
The billboard features a large black and white photo of
Dunlop along with this message: “Simcoe residents are paying for a U.S. prison
firm’s $1 million dollar tax break. Ask MPP Garfield Dunlop: WHY?”
The billboard should receive a wide audience. It is posted
on Highway 11, south of Orillia, and will be viewed by most area residents as
well as thousands of cottagers every weekend.
CAPP chair Sharon Dion wants to alert all Simcoe County
residents of the enormous tax break being given to an American
private-for-profit prison firm.
“This has been a hot issue here in Penetanguishene, but
all other residents of Simcoe County need to know that they have lost over
$400,000 in tax revenue thanks to the policies of Garfield Dunlop’s Tory
Corrections Minister Rob Sampson promised residents at a
public meeting in April, 2000 that the private company selected to run
Penetanguishene’s 1,200-bed superjail would pay normal business taxes, as does
every other business in the province. Despite that promise, Sampson failed to
make a legislative change to allow the taxation to happen. As a result,
Management and Training Corporation of Ogden, Utah will dodge $1.1 million
dollars in taxes, $400,000 of which would have been paid to the County of Simcoe.
“It is appalling that our property taxes are rising
while a foreign company gets this kind of hand out,” Dion said. “Even worse,
our tax money will flow south of the border as profits to a U.S. firm. It’s
corporate welfare at its worst. Obviously, MPP Dunlop is more concerned with
staying buddies with Mike Harris than he is representing the citizens who
When asked about the billboard by reporters earlier this
week, Dunlop is quoted as saying, “Quite frankly, there may be legal action.
If it is slanderous, then I’m not taking it.” However, Dunlop also stated he
hadn’t seen the board yet.
We’re not exactly sure on what grounds Dunlop would take
this so-called legal action. Really, Garfield, summer isn’t a good time to
develop a thin skin.
Six hurt in Whitby riot
An inmate disturbance at the Whitby Jail on Tues., June 12
has resulted in six officers being injured and a living unit severely damaged.
The uprising, which began at 11 a.m., wasn’t quelled
until later that evening. Institutional Crisis Intervention (ICI) Teams from
Whitby and Toronto East D.C. were activated to respond to the disturbance.
The commotion began when eight inmates in Corridor 5
refused to clean the unit or return the meal cart. The situation then escalated
as the inmates began tying off the doors to the unit, fashioning weapons and
breaking windows. The inmates also ripped a toilet from the wall and set fire to
plastic meal trays and mattresses. Inmates then tried to stab officers who
attempted to extinguish the flames.
Two officers had to be taken to hospital for smoke
inhalation, and a third suffered a leg injury while moving into the unit as part
of the Whitby ICI Team. Three other officers were also injured while moving
inmates out of the area due to falls on wet floors.
The exact cause of the disturbance is not yet known.
However, management at the jail instituted a policy a year ago to remove from
regular units any inmates labeled as “troublemakers” and house them all
together in Corridor 5. The union has fought this policy since its inception,
and, just weeks ago, the provincial OPSEU Health and Safety Team made
recommendations to split up this group of inmates.
“We’ve had three major disturbances here in two years,”
said Local 359 steward Troy Brittain. “The union has tried to get management
to change this policy, but they refuse to listen to us.”
Liberal MPP and Corrections Critic David Levac was quick
to praise the members who were involved. “These officers have my utmost
respect and admiration,” Levac said. “I am proud of the professional job
they did under such dangerous circumstances.”
As the investigation into the incident gets underway,
disturbing questions are being raised: If eight inmates can cause this kind of
destruction, what will happen when 1,200 inmates arrive in the new superjails?
And what happens in a privatized facility that doesn’t have the ability to
call on other institutions for back up?
“Reckless” purchases nixed by Minister
Purchase requisitions for the female unit of the
Maplehurst superjail were vetoed this week by Corrections Minister Rob Sampson
after copies of the requisitions were leaked to the Toronto Star.
The purchase orders, submitted by Superintendent Sherri
Cybulski, included 13 Bunn coffee makers for $7000, a CD player for $1,200,
three barbecues for $1,000, two volleyballs for $173, two basketballs for $173
and coloured bed covers for $17,000. Reasons for the inflated costs were not
given, but there is an unconfirmed report that the volleyballs in question are
close relatives of “Wilson,” the volleyball co-star of the film Castaway.
Hence, the hefty price tag.
Sampson was outraged at the cost of the items, and
perturbed that these items were going into his “no-frills” jail.
The Minister appeared at a press scrum the following day
holding two basketballs he apparently purchased for the photo-op, one which cost
$5 and the other which cost $80. Sampson drove home the point that the
extravagance was unnecessary, and he had the balls to prove it.
Barry Scanlon, chair of the OPSEU Corrections Ministry
Employee Relations Committee, said that this amount of spending has much better
“We have nothing against these types of items in
general,” Scanlon said. “But that kind of money could buy a lot of female
inmate programming which would be of much greater benefit.”
Sampson, however, made a rather disturbing comment in the
Toronto Sun that “reckless spending is the reason that private
operators are being brought in to run provincial jails.”
Whoa, hold on a minute. These are senior bureaucrats that
are under direct ministerial control. With the stroke of a pen, the Minister
could ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
The bottom line is that with the volume of purchase orders
generated by the Ministry on a daily basis, it is unlikely that the Minister
would have caught this one, had it not been leaked to the press.
Members are losing their jobs because of cost-cutting and
privatization. It will be interesting to see how the Minister handles this
After a brief hiatus, the resolution machine has cranked
up again with the addition of five new municipalities.
The Municipality of Huron Shores (southwest of Elliot
Lake), the Town of Grimsby (east of Hamilton), the Town of Pelham (west of
Niagara Falls), the Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen (east of Peterborough)
and the Township of Coleman (near Cobalt) have added their names to the list of
municipalities opposed to privatized corrections. This brings the total count to
Thanks go to the Resolution Warrior, Len Mason of Local
737 (Thunder Bay Jail) for taking time out to continue this worthwhile campaign.
For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) or
Pam Doig (ext. 687) at 1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888.
Ontario Public Service Employees Unionwww.opseu.org
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8
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