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Results: 1 - 15 of 126
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Hopefully, my voice survives this whole process.
I want to say while I have the floor as I move the amendment that in seven and a half years as a parliamentarian, I have not seen a bill that has been panned by every single witness who has appeared before this committee, notwithstanding the minister and his officials.
That said, the amendments that I'll be presenting today, including this one, represent what the witnesses have suggested to us would be the best possible solution, again, notwithstanding that this is probably a bill that would be best thrown out and taken back to the drawing board. We'll wait to see what happens in the B.C. courts.
Mr. Chair, NDP-1 seeks to reintroduce language that used to be in the act prior to being removed a number of years ago. It was actually in Bill C-56, the original attempt this government made at resolving the awful issues related to solitary confinement, and is constitutional, but, as many witnesses said when it came up, should also be in the legislation.
That language is:
the Service uses the least invasive and restrictive measures consistent with the protection of society, staff members and offenders;
It is so moved.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Chair.
I agree with your ruling. I think there's enough in there about security classifications by the commissioner.
Excuse me. I hope my voice will make it through this meeting.
The Chair: I hope you and Mr. Motz are not sharing the same glasses.
Mr. Matthew Dubé: I hope not. We hope we're not sharing your glasses. I think that's the issue.
The other thing I wanted to add, Chair, is that beyond the question of whether it's within the scope of the legislation, we saw the result when the news came out on the situation having changed, and it's pretty clear that the corrections that were brought to the directives following the minister's review have obviously had the result that was hoped for.
I think some of the things that are put forward here are within those directives in language that I believe is more appropriate, so I will be opposing the amendment.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In the case of both amendments, we've heard about Liberals not supporting this idea and wanting to look at taking corrective measures and having it looked into. As Ms. May has stated much better than I could, the proposals mostly stem from two sources: first, from folks like Senator Pate, who have expertise that I certainly do not have, and so we look to them, and second, from the Ashley Smith inquest.
I think now is the time to put this into legislation and to cease studying it. This particular issue has been studied for decades now, and I think it's time to give it the power of law.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Chair, as Mr. Motz and I continue our race to the bottom to see who will lose their voice first before the end of this meeting.
NDP-2 seeks to bring greater clarity to specify that any area that's being used for anything that in any way can be interpreted as segregation be deemed an SIU. This is to prevent the creation of similar areas that aren't required to follow the same type of review or accountability.
The example we have in mind is pod C at the Nova prison for women. We want to make sure that any time a prisoner is being in any way segregated, there are the appropriate accountability mechanisms, as lacking as they may be, provided by a law that is going into place. The amendment would add, after line 9 on page 4, a subsection that would read:
(2) Any area of a penitentiary where an inmate is segregated from the mainstream inmate population and is required to spend less time outside the inmate's cell or engaging in activities than an inmate confined in the mainstream inmate population shall be designated as a structured intervention unit.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Chair.
This amendment seeks to, first of all, prohibit SIUs in women's facilities, which is probably one of the more ambitious parts of the amendment.
Currently there are only 10 women in segregation in all of Canada, and when Dr. Zinger was here, he said that he firmly believes we could immediately eliminate segregation in women's prisons altogether. He's obviously not the only one. Many stakeholders have expressed similar views.
The other issue is that it prohibits their use for individuals suffering from a serious mobility impairment or who are in need of palliative care.
The last part prohibits use of SIUs if it has been recommended by a health professional that the person, for their safety, not remain in an SIU. This would give actual legal force to not just having it be a recommendation from a health care professional, but actually making sure the full protection of the law is there with regard to health care professionals.
Chair, I want to mention the mobility impairment and the palliative care piece in going back to some of the arguments that have been made on a variety of amendments that have been presented.
We talk a lot about what the service's policies are, and I think it's important for the record that we distinguish between policies and law. Currently the policy prevents those with serious mental illness or disorders, for example, from being put into segregation, but it's just policy. It's not actually in the law. I think we can all agree that if we want to have the proper human rights protections in these instances, this should be in the law.
Naturally, as I said at the outset, this is a pretty ambitious amendment that seeks to go with the recommendations of many stakeholders, including folks like Dr. Zinger, who, as the correctional investigative officer, can be deemed to be quite reasonable. Quite frankly, I think all of the witnesses are quite reasonable on this issue. Even in the status of women committee, we've seen witnesses make recommendations to move towards this, given the way that women are disproportionately negatively affected by the use of segregation.
I would also like a recorded vote, please.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Chair.
I appreciate that answer, but I think that's just it. The issue is that it “could” be taken into account, but it's far from being binding.
I'll just read the key part of the amendment. Unfortunately, I'm feeling unable to read the whole thing. I want to save whatever voice I have left for later, but I do think this part is worth reading.
Subsection (2) after line 20 on page 6 would read as follows:
Upon receipt of a recommendation under subsection (1), the institutional head shall take measures to have the inmate removed from the unit.
Here we're making it explicitly clear that should the health care professional make the recommendation, it's not a matter of taking it under advisement; they must. I know “must” isn't the word I used there, but it's obviously pretty explicit in empowering the recommendations of health care professionals in this instance.
If the government is serious about wanting those medical professionals to be empowered, this is much more in line with that, and certainly with what we've seen in a variety of arenas, whether the United Nations or the Ontario and B.C. courts.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Chair.
This is again in the same vein as what's been expressed when we talk about “least restrictive”. We're looking here for SIUs to be a measure of last resort, really making it clear that we don't want to see systemic and banal use of them, which has unfortunately been the case far too often over the last number of years.
The bill would be amended by replacing line 11 on page 4 with the following: “(a) provide, only as a measure of last resort, an appropriate living environment for an”, and then it would go on.
Thank you.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I support this amendment and have a similar one—one where I put some water in my wine after that, in keeping with our tradition here at this committee.
On a more serious note, I do remember Ms. Dabrusin's line of questioning. I believe that when we use the words “no reasonable alternative”, we still run into the issue that has been raised, which is that if there is a lack of resources, the commissioner could make the determination in the event that an inmate meets the criteria outlined in proposed paragraphs 34(a) and 34(b). For example, if there are no psychiatric services—which speaks to the correctional investigator's report—it could be deemed that because of a lack of resources, there is no reasonable alternative than to put an inmate there.
Notwithstanding that language, I think the same problem exists. For that reason, I'm supportive of both Ms. May's amendment PV-10 and also my amendments further on that are in that same vein.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
There are so many issues with that comment, with all due respect. Let's look at proposed paragraph 34(b), which states:
(b) allowing the inmate to be in the mainstream inmate population would jeopardize the inmate’s safety;
Who's jeopardizing the inmate's safety? It could be because the person has mental issues and finds himself or herself drawn into violent altercations such that he or she does need psychiatric services.
Proposed paragraph 34(a) talks about someone who has acted or intends to act in a manner that jeopardizes safety, and so on. Again, there's no protection that says that in the event that they don't have resources to properly treat an inmate who may meet any and all of these criteria, quite frankly, and who actually requires proper help, an inmate will not be put into an SIU, which is essentially solitary confinement.
There are all kinds of points there that are of concern, and this in no way alleviates that concern. If it did, I'm sure the witnesses would have said as much.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Amendment NDP-5 is similar to the amendment Ms. May just proposed, except that I'm adding key elements that were raised in the questions I put to witnesses and in the exchange we just had. We want the bill to state clearly "for security reasons other than the lack of staff members or cells in the penitentiary."
At the time—it was during the last Parliament, if I'm not mistaken—this committee had tabled a report addressing the overpopulation of certain penitentiaries, which had led to violent incidents and could result in inmates being transferred to segregation cells. The shortage of officers is a resource problem that was raised many times. We want it to be expressly stated that inmates must not be confined in segregation as a result of a lack of staff in the penitentiaries.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Chair.
I appreciate the amendments that Ms. May brought forward. I think that having that definition was very clear. It's unfortunate that it was defeated. I'm happy to have voted in favour of it.
That said, I know that the next amendment, if I'm not mistaken, from Ms. Dabrusin, is very similar. That's something that I wholeheartedly agree with. It adds a record-keeping requirement, which I would support, so I will withdraw mine and support LIB-3.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The purpose of this amendment is to specify that this tool must be used only as a last resort. It states that this measure, the confinement of inmates in this unit, should be applied only "if there is no reasonable alternative... and is to end as soon as possible."
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In this amendment we're trying to be ambitious on two fronts: applying the Mandela rules relating to the number of aggregate days in a 365-day period, and going back to Justice Arbour's recommendation for judicial review.
I didn't have time to finish debating the minister on that point, but I don't believe it's something that requires royal recommendation or I imagine I would have had a ruling from the chair on this front. I will ask for a recorded vote.
The amendment would read that Bill C-83, in clause 10, be amended by replacing line 20 on page 4 with the following:
unit is to end as soon as possible, and may never be, subject to subsection (2), for more than 15 aggregate days in a 365-day period.
(2) The Federal Court may, on request by the institution head, authorize the confinement of an inmate in a structured intervention unit for up to an additional 15 aggregate days in a 365-day period, as long as the aggregate days of confinement of the inmate in such a unit, irrespective of the penitentiary, do not exceed 60 in the 365-day period.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I just want to say that Justice Arbour's recommendation dates back to when I was in elementary school. I'm not saying that to be glib. I'm saying that to demonstrate how long-standing this issue has been.
I think it's pretty clear from the minister's comments and his inability to provide me with an adequate response that he has already prejudged what he believes this will look like.
Both Bill C-56 and Bill C-83 have had nothing in terms of proper independent review with any kind of teeth. Moreover, I think the very fact that the government is appealing the B.C. decision has just left a bunch of bread crumbs that do not allow me, unfortunately, and with all due respect, to make the same leap of faith. I believe, from what I've heard from witnesses, what I've read and what I've heard Justice Arbour say many times over the years, that this is the way to go.
At the end of the day, I go back to what Justice Arbour articulated as the reason here: The minute you start going beyond a certain number of days without this type of review, you're actually influencing sentencing. You're changing the punishment that has been brought out by a court of law on an individual.
I understand that circumstances can change within a prison, but unfortunately, history has borne out that this has been abused and has gone against the way our system is supposed to work. I believe this is the only way we can properly correct that abuse. Having heard witness testimony, and through my own discussions with stakeholders, that's what I believe.
Unfortunately, on this file, with the dithering we've seen from the minister, both with his actions in appealing the decision through the Department of Justice and in his own testimony, I just do not have that same faith.
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