March 9, 2001
Bullets fly at Mimico
It was like a scene from a Hollywood movie, except there were no lights, no
cameras and the blood was real.
What started out as just another routine Monday morning intermittent inmate
release at Mimico C.C. turned out to be anything but as an inmate was gunned
down just outside the gate. A lone assassin calmly fired five shots, four of
which struck the inmate, and then nonchalantly walked to a waiting vehicle and
It all happened at 5:35 a.m. on Mar. 5, 2001. Outside, a correctional officer
and a maintenance officer were just 35 feet away when the gunfire shattered the
Even before the shooter drove away, these two members were tending to the
inmate’s wounds and calling on the radio for help. Thanks to their quick
action and training, the inmate survived the incident.
The police believe that the shooting may have been gang related. The bullets
were fired at such a close range that they went right through the inmate’s
"Our members never hesitated coming to the aid of the inmate," said
Roger Hogue, a member at Local 521. "They were even able to provide a
description and a licence plate number to the police. That’s what professional
public service is all about."
This incident is a grim reminder that the danger facing corrections members
is not limited to what happens inside the walls. It is also a graphic response
to Ministry statements that provincial inmates pose less danger because they’re
serving less time.
"The inmate was serving weekends." Hogue said. "Yet his
presence turned out to be life threatening."
There was one less serious repercussion to this entire event. One staff
member’s car was the recipient of two of the bullets. To make things worse,
police impounded his car.
We tip our hats to these brave members. They personify why publicly employed
professionals are irreplaceable.
Thunder Bay council now on board
For Resolution Warrior Len Mason of Local 737 (Thunder Bay Jail), it was like
a thorn in his side that pained him constantly.
On his own, Len has managed to bring in over 120 council resolutions
supporting public corrections, yet his own hometown wouldn’t cooperate. That
all changed last Monday night.
After hundreds of hours of preparation, lobbying and paperwork, Thunder Bay
City Council passed the resolution opposing privatized correctional services.
"It took three deputations to get this council on side," Mason
said. "The night of the presentation I was grilled for over 70 minutes by
the councillors. But it was worth it."
Thunder Bay council had initially opposed the resolution to avoid
jeopardizing the provincial government’s planned jail expansion in the city.
With the addition of Thunder Bay, the number of municipalities opposing
private corrections is now 194.
We thank Len for his "never say die" approach.
Mississauga MPP Rob Sampson was reinstated as Minister of Correctional
Services this week after being investigated for the release of young offender
names in the Legislature last December. Northumberland MPP Doug Galt, who
actually released the names, was also reinstated to his former post.
One of Sampson’s first activities was to tour the new Penetanguishene
superjail along with area MPP Garfield Dunlop and members of the Penetanguishene
While in the area, Sampson made the announcement that the deadline for
submissions to operate the Penetang facility has been extended from March 9,
2001 to April 11, 2001. Sampson told councillors that the delay was due to an
outstanding OPSEU grievance and the fact that the Ministry had received no bids
on the jail.
Task force meetings under way
Meetings between local jail representatives and OPSEU’s Corrections MERC
and Health and Safety Teams are now under way. At the meetings, local leaders
are being provided with a survey which will document health and safety issues at
Barry Scanlon, chair of the OPSEU Corrections Ministry Employee Relations
Committee, expects that the results will show that the Ministry is allowing
public service correctional facilities to disintegrate in order to justify
"We need EVERY local to return a survey," Scanlon said. "We
want to provide irrefutable proof that our members are trying their best to work
in a system that is crumbling around them."
A member of either team will contact all locals. If your local has not yet
been spoken to, please contact Don Ford at OPSEU Head Office.
Inmate receives 32 months for staff assaults
An inmate has received a 32-month consecutive sentence for assaulting five
staff members at the Thunder Bay Jail. An Ontario Court judge imposed the
sentence on Feb. 16, 2001.
On Dec. 6, 2000, the inmate bit one of the officers, a wound that required
hospital treatment. On Jan. 1, 2001, the inmate assaulted the other four staff
using a club fashioned from a magazine.
In his decision, Judge R.D. Clarke noted that the inmate showed no remorse
for his actions, and had a lengthy record of assaults. Judge Clarke also pointed
out that correctional officers have the same entitlements to protection that the
"Every time they (correctional officers) go on duty they put their
personal safety on the line," Clark said. "And, the courts must take
steps to protect them by imposing sentences which will deter not only the
particular offender before the court, but other prisoners as well, from
assaulting correctional officers while they are performing the responsibilities
of their duties."
Judge Clark took special note of the officer who had been bitten when he
received evidence that it would take approximately six months to discover
whether or not the officer was HIV positive.
"One can only imagine the anxiety which that time frame would cause to
be thrust upon the officer and his family," Clark said.
Describing the assaults as having a "profound and frightening
impact" on the officers involved, Clark sentenced the inmate to eight
months for the bite, and to six months for each of the four officers assaulted
with the weapon.
Len Mason, president of Local 737 at the jail and one of the officers
involved in the assault, was extremely satisfied with the outcome.
"We know the risks we face every day," Mason said. "But to
hear those risks voiced by a judge in a courtroom is rewarding, especially when
the sentence backs up the judge’s remarks."
So how’s Mike doing?
If MPP Norm Sterling thinks correctional officer attendance is unreasonable,
maybe he should be looking a little closer to home.
Since his election in 1995, Premier Mike Harris has only attended 170 out of
458 Question Periods in the Legislature. That works out to an appearance rate of
37 per cent, or an average of 48 missed sessions per year.
Compare Harris’ 37 per cent to that of former Premier Bob Rae (65 per cent)
and former Premier Bill Davis (76 per cent). Former Premiers David Peterson,
Robert Frost, and John Robarts all had attendance records in the 80s and 90s.
In order to provide the same public service that the Ministry of Correctional
Service’s web site is providing, we will try to get all of the Tory cabinet
member’s attendance figures and post them on the OPSEU web site. Watch for it
For campaign information, call Don Ford (ext. 442) or Carol Whitehead
(ext. 356) at
1-800-268-7376 or (416) 443-8888. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
.Ontario Public Service Employees Union
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8
Original authorized for distribution by Leah Casselman, president.
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