Committee
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 60 of 66788
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Witnesses, I offer insincere apologies for our late start. This has been a curse of this committee and appears to be a continuing curse of this committee.
However, I think we'll extend the meeting at least to 6:30. I want to get this done.
First up is a motion received and promoted by Madame Damoff.
I would appreciate it if she could speak to that motion, and then we can dispose of it quickly.
Collapse
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you so much, Chair.
I filed a motion last week with the clerk, and it has been distributed. I'm hoping that we can deal with this quite quickly, because we need to turn to a very important private member's bill that's before us today on recidivism. I thank Conservative MP Bragdon for bringing that forward.
Last week, following the tabling of Bill C-21, our government's new firearms legislation, the National Firearms Association took to their show, NFA Talk, where extremely dangerous words were uttered. This video from the NFA now has close to 7,000 views.
My motion today seeks to have our committee condemn this behaviour.
During the broadcast, NFA president, Mr. Sheldon Clare, said the following, and it's in the motion: “...revisit our old woodworking and metal working skills and construct guillotines again. [Laughter followed.] That would really be the best kind of Committee of Public Safety to get re-established. If they want to make it about public safety that was the way.... [T]he sound of this [person's] voice was not one that is joking. He was not joking. I don't think they understand that this is not New Zealand, this is not the United Kingdom, this is not Australia. This is a country made up of people who've been here for thousands of years, [our] aboriginal people, immigrants from Europe who fled tyranny, who fought against tyranny and know tyranny when they see it. And this my friends is tyranny.”
Mr. Chair, words matter. We saw in the Unites States, on January 6, what happens when inflammatory words provoke insurrection and violence. We've seen it here in Canada, with someone breaching the grounds of Rideau Hall and someone else following NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
It sent a chill down my spine to hear talk of building guillotines when referencing the Committee on Public Safety by the NFA and its leadership.
By no means are these the only statements that the NFA has made, and I want to read some of the other ones that have been made by NFA executive director Charles Zach on social media.
In June 2020, he posted this, along with a photo of four men holding large rifles: “Coming to a Canadian Main Street near you. If the police will not protect you during a violent riot, you will have to protect yourself and others who cannot defend themselves from dangerous and armed organized domestic terrorists.”
On June 25, 2020, Mr. Zach posted an article about gun and ammunition sales soaring, with his heading saying, “Buy more guns and ammo. The police will not protect you.”
In May 2020, Mr. Zach said, “Perhaps we would see organized demonstrations in front of the homes of these civil disarmamentalists”—his term.
There is another one in which he posted a caricature of me and Minister Freeland that says, “But... but... think of the women!!”, with another picture of two women holding firearms saying, “I think we'll be fine”—talking about our firearms policy.
Mr. Chair, I think I'll leave it there with the statements I'm going to read, but what I find extremely concerning is that when confronted with the concerns around their statement, the National Firearms Association has actually doubled down.
In a Global News story yesterday, Mr. Clare is quoted as saying “I've merely related comments from upset people who have a real big problem with tyranny. And I think the virtue-signalling woke liberal left has a problem with being called out as being tyrants.”
Mr. Zach has called me “a rabid anti-gun civil disarmamentalist”, and remember he called for organized demonstrations in front of the homes of “civil disarmamentalists”—his term—in May 2020.
Mr. Zach also told Global News, noting that his use of the metaphor is intentional, “We're locked and loaded.... And I say that unapologetically and unabashedly.”
Today Mr. Zach posted, “If the Liberals feel offended for being called 'tyrants'—then should stop acting like tyrants”, but still has not apologized for talking about the need to start constructing guillotines.
Mr. Chair, this kind of language is dangerous. Sharing these comments on their platform—which, as I mentioned, has had 7,000 views—can lead to violence, as we saw in the United States. The storming of the U.S. Capitol by an armed mob was spurred on by similar language.
These calls for violence against those who want a safer community are not tolerable, and it is incumbent on all of us to condemn them. I'm asking the members of the committee to support this motion and condemn the National Firearms Association and the statement made last week.
Mr. Chair, I ask that the motion be amended at the end to include “and the committee report this to the House”.
I'm hoping we can deal with this quickly and vote on this right away.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Is there any debate?
Collapse
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I'm sorry. When we do vote, could we have a recorded vote, please?
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's fine.
I saw Mrs. Stubbs first, and then Mr. Harris.
Collapse
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-02-22 16:45
Expand
Thanks, Mr. Chair. I appreciate your coming to me, and I hope the committee will indulge me a little bit as I go through a couple of the issues that I see and develop this from my personal perspective.
I first want to say, Pam, that if there is a perception of a personal or public safety threat to either members of Parliament, specific to the public safety committee or in general or to you, then I need you to know that I take that, as do all Conservative members on this committee, extremely seriously.
We hope...and I would invite you to say, if you wish, whether or not that complaint has been made to police, as should be the case; perhaps the chair can confirm whether or not such a complaint has been made to the Sergeant-at-Arms, which should be the case if the comments constitute a threat to members of Parliament at large.
I would note—and I guess this is why we ought to get to the place of having this discussion in camera—that any matters related to MP security and safety are generally dealt with in camera, from what I understand of the procedure and House affairs committee. I understand that PROC just did a briefing on security risks for members of Parliament, and the entire thing was in camera, because of course it's about the safety of MPs, and because that is the committee that deals with those issues.
I really need you to know how seriously I take this or take the concept of the safety and security of individual members of Parliament being threatened or feeling threatened. Since being elected in 2015, I have received personal and direct threats to my safety and security. On two separate occasions, I and the three female staff members in my constituency office in Two Hills have also faced direct and personal threats to our personal security and safety.
In one incident, the RCMP was called to our constituency office. The office was put on lockdown, and that individual was removed from the office property. He showed up at the office; he was screaming and swearing, and said he no longer identified as Canadian and was not subject to their laws, and there was no place in this world for elected officials or their staff. In the second incident, a man had begun on the phone by screaming at my 19-year-old female staffer. He was then transferred to her manager, another woman, whom he proceeded to swear at, and he told her he hoped that she would be raped and that she would die. We reported that incident to the Sergeant-at-Arms to be dealt with, and we do have a very close relationship with the RCMP detachment, which happens to be two blocks from my constituency office.
I'm also aware that another member of this committee—and I'll let him speak for himself, if he wishes—a Conservative colleague of ours who sits with us here, has also faced personal threats. Those personal threats resulted in the laying of charges and the conviction of the individual who was making threats.
If this motion is prompted by a perception or an interpretation—and all of that is legitimate, because we are all thinking, considerate, rational people who all have the equal right to perceive and to debate and to interpret the way comments are made—then I do hope that those complaints have been made to the proper authorities. But I would also say that it would necessitate that this committee have this discussion in camera and that we must be extremely careful not to be seen to be politically influencing or interfering with what ought to be—by now, I hope, if this is the motivation—an actual current and ongoing legal investigation.
If, on the other hand, this is an attempt to have the public safety and national security committee function as a tool to be a judge and jury of individual Canadians or organizations, and to wield the special privilege, scope, status and power of members of Parliament and a parliamentary committee against individual Canadians or organizations about comments that may or may not be considered in their full context, then of course I have no desire to get into that.
Also, of course, in the motion we're debating right now, there are key comments missing. That's why the motion starts with an ellipsis. There's also, right in the middle of the motion and the quoted comments, even a sentence that's missing.
My view would be that I think Conservatives certainly don't believe that a parliamentary committee ought to be used as a judge and jury and a condemnation of comments made by individual Canadians or organizations, comments that may or may not be taken out of context and that may not be fully considered in context right here in the case of this motion, where perceptions and interpretations can legitimately differ and can legitimately be debated by fair-minded, honest, good-willed people. Personally, I believe that if the committee were to take such an action, there are real, important issues relating to fairness and serious power imbalances if this were to become a tactic of parliamentary committees as a matter of course, which I would find concerning.
Again, I must reiterate that if a member believes comments have been made that constitute a threat to personal and/or public safety, then those should be reported to authorities—in fact, I hope they have already been, if that is the interpretation—and committees should not influence that process.
Either way, I would move that we continue this conversation in camera, for all the reasons I've just outlined.
I, too, believe it is critical for us as a committee to move on with a very important initiative by our colleague Richard Bragdon on legislation to prevent recidivism of offenders, to protect the public safety of all Canadians and victims of crime and to reduce repeat offences, about which I know all members on this committee, across all parties, are seriously concerned.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Just as a point of procedure, it was reported by Ms. Damoff and me to the appropriate authorities, so it is before them at this point, and it's their decision as to how, where and when it's dealt with.
Collapse
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-02-22 16:53
Expand
Thank you very much for that clarification, Chair.
I suppose my next question, then, would be, has either the Sergeant-at-Arms or the police, if the committee has been elevated with them, suggested this course of action insofar as the argument is being made that this may or may not constitute a threat to public or private safety? Obviously, we need to know that, if this committee has been advised in this way to undertake this discussion. If that hasn't been their advice, then I would suggest that very answer, especially if we also learn that a complaint has been made to the police, is very much the reason why this committee should continue that discussion in camera.
Of course, we all know that as members of Parliament, or members of an extremely powerful parliamentary committee with extraordinary scope, we would never want to be seen to be attempting to influence, wag the dog, intervene, comment on, opine on or contribute to an ongoing official investigation in any way. I know that we would all be concerned about not wanting to give that appearance.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think there may be a conflation of several ideas there. I take your position to be that you would prefer to defer this discussion to another appropriate moment. I will treat it as a motion to be dealt with prior to Ms. Damoff's motion, but before that, I want to hear from Mr. Harris, and now I see that Ms. Damoff's hand is up.
I'll deal with Mr. Harris first and then Ms. Damoff. If there are no other intervenors, I'll call Mrs. Stubbs' motion, and depending on the outcome of that motion, we'll deal with the subsequent motion.
Jack, go ahead.
Collapse
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2021-02-22 16:55
Expand
Thank you, Chair.
I just note that my colleague Don Davies is here, and I have a call for me to appear on an interview on another computer. I think I'll leave the discussion to Mr. Davies, who has been briefed on what is taking place.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
Ms. Damoff, go ahead.
Collapse
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Perhaps we can double-check with the clerk, but I think my motion takes precedence over Mrs. Stubbs'.
As you said yourself, there are a number of things being conflated here. The entire video is available online if people want to watch it, but the statements made by the National Firearms Association specifically reference the committee of public safety and talk about constructing guillotines.
They laughed about it. They have refused to make any kind of statement subsequent to that. As I said previously, given what happened in the United States and what has happened in Canada when organizations make inflammatory comments like the National Firearms Association did last week, I think it is incumbent on this committee to condemn their statements. It's time to stop accepting this kind of rhetoric, and vague threats and suggestions to their membership that guillotines start to be constructed. It's time that we as a committee take a stand.
The Committee on Public Safety was mentioned by them. This has absolutely nothing to do with what the Parliamentary Protective Service is or is not doing. That is absolutely separate from this discussion.
I think we need to take a stand. We need to shut down this kind of language, this way of talking and thinking that it's okay to talk about building guillotines and laughing about those kinds of comments in a public forum. I think we as a committee need to condemn this kind of language, and that's the reason I brought this motion forward. I really hope that other members of the committee will support it.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Unless the clerk contradicts me, I take the view that the motion to defer by Mrs. Stubbs does take precedence over the main motion.
I want to make sure. Am I on solid ground, Mr. Clerk?
Collapse
Mark D'Amore
View Mark D'Amore Profile
Mark D'Amore
2021-02-22 16:57
Expand
Yes, you are.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
With that, I'm going to treat it as a motion for deferral, for want of a better term.
Is it the will of the committee to defer this motion?
If we want to go on a voice vote, that's fine. If we want to have a roll call vote, that's up to members.
Collapse
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Can we have a roll call vote, please, Chair?
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Clerk, would you call the vote?
(Motion negatived: nays 6; yeas 5)
The Chair: We move to the main motion. Again, we will have a call on the main motion.
Collapse
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Chair, I also amended it at the end. Do we need to vote on that first?
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think as the mover you can amend your own motion. I think I'm on good ground there. My very able clerk will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you can, in which case it's Madame Damoff's motion, moved as amended.
(Motion agreed to: yeas 7; nays 0)
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
I don't need to ask for a separate motion to report it to the House, as that's contained in the main motion. That being the case, we will now return to the main business.
I apologize, Mr. Bragdon and witnesses, for the further delay. That being said, we will stick with what we talked about, which was a five-minute presentation by Mr. Bragdon, followed by five-minute presentations from the witnesses, and then we'll do a five-minute round of questions, and see where that leaves us. Let's start there.
Am I missing anything else procedurally, Mr. Clerk, before I call on Mr. Bragdon?
Collapse
Mark D'Amore
View Mark D'Amore Profile
Mark D'Amore
2021-02-22 17:02
Expand
You might want to just read the order of reference.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
If I had the order of reference, I would read it. I'm at some disadvantage as I don't have all the documents.
Collapse
Mark D'Amore
View Mark D'Amore Profile
Mark D'Amore
2021-02-22 17:02
Expand
You can just call the bill.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
We're calling Mr. Bragdon's bill.
What's the number?
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
We're calling Bill C-228. And there it is.
I apologize, colleagues. I am removed from my normal office and not able to print out things that I would normally like to print out so that I have some coherent presentation here. Others are far more advantaged than I am.
Let's proceed on that basis.
Mr. Bragdon, you have five minutes.
Collapse
View Richard Bragdon Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I consider it an honour to be able to speak with regard to this private member's bill. It's been a labour of passion, and I'm truly excited to hear from the witnesses tonight. I'll get out of the way as quickly as I can so that you can hear from those who are truly on the front lines of making a real difference and impact in reducing recidivism.
I know that all of you, or perhaps most of you, are aware that nearly 25% of those who have been released from federal prisons—and that statistic is much higher when they're coming out of provincial prisons—end up back in the federal prison system within two years. The rate amongst indigenous communities is nearly 40%. It is also a sad reality that the children of those incarcerated are seven times more likely to become incarcerated themselves. It is abundantly clear that we must stop this cycle. We must arrest this cycle.
This bill aims to address the ever-revolving door within our prison system and to break this perilous cycle that sees individuals consistently reoffend. This bill will make the Minister of Public Safety establish a task force and create a national framework to reduce recidivism. We'll do that in part by looking at some of the working models that have had some tremendous success internationally, as well as some that are having some good success here locally and within Canada.
I'm very excited to hear a little bit later.... Here this evening you'll hear from Ms. Naidoo, who's going to be sharing a model that's had tremendous success south of the border in the big state of Texas. It's called the Texas Offender Reentry Initiative. She'll speak about the statistics that relate to that. I'll just say this. She recently—I guess it was in 2016—received from then president Obama a champions of change award for the tremendous work that this initiative has done in reducing recidivism in her state. Now it's growing exponentially. You'll be hearing from her.
I'm also honoured to have Mr. Nicholas here. He has a tremendous background, obviously, in knowing the law, in being a former judge, in being a former lieutenant-governor and in being a person from the Wolastoqiyik first nation community. I'm so glad that Mr. Nicholas will be here to offer his perspective.
Of course, I see that Ms. Latimer is here from the John Howard Society. There's tremendous work that they do in helping people reintegrate back into communities.
Needless to say, there are some tremendous models and organizations that we can learn from, that are doing great work on the front lines, and hopefully we can import some of the best practices and contextualize them to the Canadian context. I feel that, as we look at that, we can find great hope.
I won't get down into the specifics of how some of these programs work, but I feel that what I would call the sweet spot of lasting societal change is oftentimes found at the interface where we break down the silos and get various sectors working together—whether they're governmental, non-profit, private sectors—bringing all their various gifts, talents, abilities and resources to the table to bring about that lasting change.
One thought that is really one of the centrepieces of this—I heard this one time and it stuck with me—is called the principle of three. When someone is serving time, if the work begins for that lasting change while the individual is on the inside, if within the first three minutes someone trusted is meeting them at the gate to make sure that the individual has someone to walk with in those initial steps upon being released, if within three hours living arrangements are being made and put in place for the individual, if within three days life skills development, employment and other programs are starting to come around the individual, if within three weeks there are education completion programs, etc., and if within three months the individual is making noticeable progress and transition is complete, then, within three years we are going to witness and see a lasting lifestyle change and that individual contributing back to society.
I'll close with this, Mr. Chair. I don't know how much longer I have, but I'll just say this in conclusion. I'll never forget the first time that I visited a prison. It was with my dear friend—Mr. Nicholas probably knows of him; he's passed on now—Mr. Monty Lewis, who started an organization called Bridges of Canada. He himself had served time in federal prison. He was from Cape Breton. He made some tough choices along the way. He didn't have an easy upbringing. He and his wife, upon release, felt a passion to start a ministry, an organization, a non-profit to help those who had found themselves in similar situations but wanted to successfully get back into the community.
Once we went to a prison. It was my first visit. It was Dorchester Penitentiary. He said—and you have to understand how he talked; he had kind of that rough accent—“Now, Richard, I want you to know something. You're going to a place where there's the highest concentration of the worst kinds of vile actions and feelings, anger and dysfunction that there could ever be. It's behind the walls of this prison that you're going to today. I want you to also know that you'll never visit a place where there's a higher concentration of the incredible power that the opportunity of a second chance, forgiveness and hope can bring. I've been a recipient of that in my own life, and if you start on this journey, you'll never be the same; you'll never regret it.”
I was very naive, and I must confess, when the doors were closing behind me to go in for my first visit, I felt a little bit of anxiety. However, I'm glad to say that several years later, I've seen many lives that have been changed, and for the better. They're back in community making a big difference for themselves and their families, and everybody comes out ahead.
I want to thank you for considering this bill. I'm excited. We can offer together the gift that transforms all lives, and that's the gift of hope. I look forward to hearing from these witnesses.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I've taken too long. I'm all excited. Over to you.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
You have, Mr. Bragdon, taken too long, but it was quite inspirational. I do recall the first time I went to a prison as well. I think I only got one half of that message.
I understand that Mr. Nicholas—Your Honour or Your Excellency, I'm not quite sure which—has to leave at 5:30, so I'm going to call on him next for a five-minute presentation, in the expectation that he has to leave at 5:30.
Sir, you have the next five minutes, please.
Collapse
Graydon Nicholas
View Graydon Nicholas Profile
Graydon Nicholas
2021-02-22 17:10
Expand
Thank you very much.
Good afternoon, everyone.
Good afternoon, members of the House of Commons who are studying this private member's bill, Bill C-228. I am grateful for this opportunity to share some experiences I had during my days as a social work student, as a lawyer representing persons before the courts in New Brunswick, and as a provincial court judge.
I am a member of the Wolastoqiyik Nation from the Tobique First Nation. I worked with indigenous persons who are incarcerated at the Guelph Correctional Centre as a social work student during my studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in a field placement in January to April, 1973. Persons who were sentenced to two years less a day served their imprisonment there. It was an eye-opener for me, because I was already a lawyer before I went to study for my master's degree in social work. I defended indigenous and non-indigenous persons charged with summary and indictable offences under the Criminal Code of Canada.
When a client is found guilty or pleads guilty, information gathered by a probation officer is very crucial in making submissions to the sentencing judge on behalf of their client. As a probation officer, your duty is to make the best submission on their behalf to a judge for an appropriate sentence.
As a provincial court judge, you must listen to what is presented by the Crown prosecutor and the victim, read the victim impact statement, and listen to the submissions of the defence counsel and the accused, who may wish to speak. You must also read what is in the pre-sentence report and letters of support, and you must apply the principles of sentencing found in the Criminal Code. Whatever sentence you decide to give is not easy and is subject to appeal.
I have seen many persons who were repeat offenders. It could be because of their psychological state of mind, addictions or a deliberate refusal to abide by the conditions of a probation order or bail conditions, or because they didn't care. I call them “the walking wounded”.
There are no winners in the criminal justice system. The victims and the communities have legitimate fears that the offender will exact revenge unless fundamental changes are introduced into their lives. Programs must be made available for the rehabilitation of the offender. It depends on the length of the sentences in institutions or in the community, which need the resources to change the behaviour of the offender. Often, counselling may continue beyond the time served, and this can be put into the conditions of a probation order.
Indigenous persons have a high and a sad representation in penal institutions in our country. There are many factors that contribute to these statistics. Many are historical, many are because of poverty, and many are because the current justice system does not reflect the values of their communities. There have been many studies done to recommend fundamental changes in the criminal justice system, but not enough has been done to implement them.
I want to commend the initiative of the member of Parliament, Mr. Richard Bragdon, and your other members who have introduced this important legislative blueprint.
Thank you very much. Woliwon.
I can stay until about 5:45 your time.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for that and for your brief presentation.
Before I call on Madame Naidoo, could the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party indicate to the clerk who the lead questioners will be, before we finish with the witnesses, please? Thank you.
Madame Naidoo, you have five minutes. Go ahead, please.
Collapse
Tina Naidoo
View Tina Naidoo Profile
Tina Naidoo
2021-02-22 17:13
Expand
Good afternoon, Chairman and Mr. Bragdon.
Thank you, members of the committee, for inviting us to be a part of this.
My name is Tina Naidoo, and I am the executive director of the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative, also known as “T.O.R.I.” We have been in operation for 17 years and have had the opportunity to serve over 30,000 returning citizens throughout Texas.
Texas is widely considered the incarceration capital of the United States. In fact, 70,000 people return to Texas each year from prison. Despite paying their debt to society, these individuals will find themselves saddled with collateral consequences of a criminal record. They will face discrimination in employment, housing and education and will come home to a fractured support system. This will lead to their nearly inevitable recidivism.
We, too, began with a call from elected officials when our program’s founder, pastor and global thought leader Bishop T.D. Jakes founded the T.O.R.I. program in 2005.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in 32 Americans is under the control of the criminal justice system. I can say with clear certainty that by allowing the problem to continue, you will only build more prisons and broken families.
T.O.R.I. began with a federal challenge grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, meaning that every two dollars we spent on the program was matched by the government with one dollar. This initiative was a five-city collaboration that targeted the cities in Texas considered the five hot spots for most releasees—Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Dallas. We served more than 400 returning citizens that initial year, with a staggering 13% recidivism rate, proving that the intervention was both replicable and effective.
In the coming years, T.O.R.I. was awarded funding through the Second Chance Act by the United States Department of Justice. These initiatives better equipped the returning citizens upon release and increased cross-sector partnerships.
This type of relationship, in which a federal framework filters to the states—or in this case, provinces—makes a real impact that is critical to lasting change. This position was further emphasized years later when T.O.R.I. worked in partnership with the Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas. The evaluation confirmed that comprehensive re-entry services provided through community-based initiatives significantly impact this social issue when provided in partnership with government entities.
The program evaluation revealed that 18 case management sessions led to a rise in self-sufficiency outcomes. In this project, the success rate of the participants was over 90%. These individuals, who statistically had an income of around $10,000 U.S. annually, emerged from this program making a living wage, effectively lifting their families out of poverty and propelling themselves into socio-economic mobility.
Following T.O.R.I.’s successes, the program was afforded the opportunity to become the first provider in the nation to partner with the Department of Housing and Urban Development—otherwise known as “HUD”—through its local housing authority. The partnership provided government-subsidized housing for returning citizens working toward self-sufficiency. This type of housing assistance was previously off limits to those with a criminal background. However, through this resource over 500 families were reunited. This equated to diminished post-incarceration homelessness, stronger families and safer communities.
As you likely know, Canada reports a recidivism rate of close to 35%, compared to 65% in the United States. This gives me hope for the incredible impact this bill will have on recidivism reduction in Canada.
At a recent T.O.R.I. client graduation ceremony, United States Senator Tim Scott provided the commencement address and applauded T.O.R.I.’s efforts, proclaiming the program a national model to reduce recidivism.
After studying the bill before you, I believe unequivocally that this would set you on the path to immeasurably improved outcomes. The answer is in the cross-sector collaboration this would foster. As we have seen, the interplay of these systems has the power to address the issues through all the sectors, leaving no cracks to fall through.
Finally, you may have concerns about the ability to implement such a program in the shadow of COVID-19. The common perception is that returning citizens have a technology gap in addition to a skills gap. Let me assure you that this perception is inaccurate.
At T.O.R.I., we were forced to adapt to a virtual service platform in a matter of days at the onset of the pandemic. We were able to serve more individuals in less time while eliminating transportation barriers. Clients were able to participate in rehabilitative services and counselling more effectively. In the heart of the pandemic, our client employment rate rose by over 30%. The outcomes were remarkable.
Those who will benefit don't always fit the stereotype. One young lady joined us, stripped of her licensure and unable to work, despite having two master's degrees. Today she is a practising registered nurse fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is an example of the kind of restoration that is possible here.
Truly, this bill is one that will place Canada at the forefront of criminal justice reform and recidivism reduction. This is a true definition of government working for the people. Returning citizens of Canada must simply be given an opportunity without penalty, based on the merits of their rehabilitative efforts.
Thank you.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
I know that Mr. Motz is the first questioner from the Conservatives, but I still don't know who the Liberal first questioner will be. If that could be communicated to the clerk, it would be helpful.
Madame Latimer, you have five minutes, please.
Collapse
Catherine Latimer
View Catherine Latimer Profile
Catherine Latimer
2021-02-22 17:20
Expand
It's a great pleasure to be before the committee and to share John Howard's views about Bill C-228.
John Howard Society, as many of you know, is a charity that serves more than 60 communities across Canada. It's committed to just, effective and humane responses to the causes and consequences of crime, but our roots are really in supporting the reintegration of prisoners and looking at prison reform.
We enthusiastically support Bill C-228. While there may be differing opinions about the appropriate quantum of sentences and the best way to discharge people's debt to society, I believe there is broad agreement that we want those leaving prisons and returning to communities to be law-abiding, contributing members. Not only does this help the individual rejoining the community, but it prevents further victimization, saves state resources and benefits us all.
The road back for former prisoners is a tough one. It's as tough in Canada, in many ways, as it is in Texas. Many face loneliness, stigma, grinding poverty, discrimination in employment and housing, barriers due to race, religion and gender, inadequate identification, gaps in the continuity of mental and physical health care, challenges reuniting with families, inadequate skills, serious marginalization and fear and hostility from community members. For some, drugs and alcohol are a temptation to blunt the discomfort they feel, and post-release drug overdoses are high. Suicide rates in the first year after release are significantly higher than they are for the average person.
Given the hardships they encounter, it is a testament to their enormous resilience and willpower that the majority of those released do not return to prison. However, far too many do return to prison. Much more can be done and should be done to facilitate a successful transition.
The Department of Public Safety gave the John Howard Society of Canada a small grant to do a series of podcasts involving peers and interviewing former prisoners about the challenges they faced reintegrating into the community, with a view to providing advice to others. For those interested, those podcasts are called Voices Inside and Out and can be found on your podcast providers.
While there were many individual differences in the challenges faced, there were many key elements that were similar, including housing, employment and health care. Many felt that correctional authorities had not adequately prepared them for release, not even provided acceptable identification, and with only a two-week supply of prescription medication.
Solutions to the challenges were often creative. Those who had help valued it enormously, and the help came from peers, organizations active in criminal justice, family, good Samaritans and others, who assisted them in navigating a slew of municipal, provincial and federal requirements and resources.
The framework proposed in Bill C-228 would be enormously helpful in ensuring that the key elements for successful transition are identified through a collaborative effort, which I hope would involve those with lived experience as well as those from organizations that provide reintegration services, and representatives from municipal, provincial and federal governments and communities, including indigenous, Black and faith communities.
The provisions of the bill that would require the Minister of Public Safety to report back on progress on the implementation of the framework would be an important impetus to having the framework as something more than words on paper. We could actually see progress being made.
Collaboration here is key. We identified an absence of housing post-custody as a serious impediment to successful reintegration, and received funding from CMHC for solution labs to tackle complex housing as a complex problem: post-custody homelessness. We've been partnering with Public Safety, Correctional Services, Employment and Social Development Canada, the National Associations Active in Criminal Justice, former prisoners with lived experience, a number of John Howard societies, Lansdowne Consulting, community organizations and housing experts on this project. What was emphasized to us is that it's not just the housing. We need the whole supportive community pulling together to aid the successful reintegration of these prisoners.
In conclusion, I would urge you to support the passage of Bill C-228. The tragic death of Kimberly Squirrel, who died on the street exposed to freezing temperatures just three days after being released from a provincial prison in Saskatchewan, should be a wake-up call to us all that we must do better. The framework is a tool to make progress towards reducing crime and making our communities safer.
Thank you.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, and thank you for respecting the time.
Collapse
Catherine Latimer
View Catherine Latimer Profile
Catherine Latimer
2021-02-22 17:25
Expand
I hear my buzzer going off. I apologize for that.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
You were within two seconds. That's pretty impressive.
Mr. Motz is up for five minutes.
I will remind members that Mr. Nicholas has to leave by a quarter to, so he has basically 20 minutes before the committee.
Mr. Motz, you have five minutes.
Collapse
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Bragdon, for bringing forward this private member's bill.
I had the pleasure of being in your riding and seeing first-hand the benefits this has for your community, for the not-for-profits there and for the people who are actually benefiting after coming out of prison. It's fantastic.
We all know that there has been a bit of a pattern in Canada where government tries to do everything itself rather than bringing groups and communities together. That's been a pattern for decades. Your bill is intended to break down silos and to have governments and non-government groups work together.
Am I understanding that correctly, Richard?
Collapse
View Richard Bragdon Profile
CPC (NB)
Absolutely, Mr. Motz. It certainly is about effective partnerships and bringing together federal, provincial and indigenous leaders, as well as the non-profit sector and also the private sector. In terms of the role the private sector can play, whether that be farms or businesses, giving employment opportunities is such a huge part of this in making sure that all of us are working together to get the outcome that I know we all share, which is reducing recidivism.
Collapse
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you for that.
I'm going to turn to Mr. Nicholas or Ms. Latimer, and maybe even to Ms. Naidoo, for an American perspective.
In your experience, how do charities and not-for-profits work with parole boards and correctional services to help? I'm going to add one more level to that. They do a great job of helping, but from your experience, how do they compare to government-run programs, which sometimes have less of a success rate? Can you comment on that for me, please?
Go ahead, Mr. Nicholas.
Collapse
Graydon Nicholas
View Graydon Nicholas Profile
Graydon Nicholas
2021-02-22 17:27
Expand
Thank you very much, Mr. Motz.
My experience was with the ones who come back to the courts, I guess. When I was a provincial court judge, recidivism was high as well, but I found that if an individual actually had an option of going to a particular residence where, for example, like Mr. Lewis, as Mr. Bragdon mentioned, and then other bodies here.... They're more receptive, because they're treated with greater respect. They're accepted as a person, even though they maybe have tripped in their lives. For their psychological needs, they can get the counselling they need, and they can get camaraderie as well, from other individuals who are in the same particular area. That helps them in their self-confidence and self-esteem as well. I found that very productive.
Mind you, some of these agencies do get government monies, but I think they can run better programs than what is in the institutions.
Collapse
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Ms. Latimer, do you have anything further to add in your experience?
Collapse
Catherine Latimer
View Catherine Latimer Profile
Catherine Latimer
2021-02-22 17:28
Expand
No, I agree with that. I think that many times the enforcement/oversight role of corrections can lead to some measure of distrust or lack of confidence from the prisoners and former prisoners. It is very important to have that human connection, where someone actually believes they can do it and is supporting them along the way.
I think you get that more from people who are not doing it because it's part of their employment or because they're making a profit from it. I think prisoners feel the kind of genuine human connection that a lot of charities and others can provide for them, and it goes a long way, that human connection.
Collapse
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
Ms. Naidoo, do you have a similar experience in the U.S.?
Collapse
Tina Naidoo
View Tina Naidoo Profile
Tina Naidoo
2021-02-22 17:29
Expand
Sure. I think what we have found over the years is that the collaboration between law enforcement and social services is where we find a common thread. Both of us have a motivation to reduce recidivism, but we have different approaches, so we find that common thread between both organizations and we jog alongside each other.
Part of what our non-profit would do is to help the client stay compliant with all their probation requirements, all their parole requirements without.... As you know, a lot of times, parole and probation don't have the opportunity or the time to provide those resources, and a lot of times that creates those technicals that in turn create the parole revocations that send them back to prison. That's how we jog alongside each other.
Collapse
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
I have one last quick question. From your experiences, are you aware of any studies that outline the return on investment for transition programs such as the one we're talking about to reduce recidivism for offenders?
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
He has roughly 15 seconds.
Mr. Nicholas, can you answer that?
Is that who you're directing it to, Glen?
Collapse
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Whoever has knowledge on whether there have been any studies done or can support.... It makes sense. We can anecdotally say it, but is there any study that can be pointed to that reflects this?
Richard?
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Answer very quickly, please.
Collapse
View Richard Bragdon Profile
CPC (NB)
Ms. Naidoo has the exact cost per day for their model.
If you want to reference that in comparison, Tina....
Collapse
Tina Naidoo
View Tina Naidoo Profile
Tina Naidoo
2021-02-22 17:31
Expand
Yes. We did do a study here in Dallas with a research institution. We found that it took 18 case management sessions before we saw a trend up. That's a trend toward retention in employment, housing stability and self-sufficiency. We can share those documents with you if that would be helpful.
Mr. Glen Motz: Great. Thank you.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Motz.
I don't know who the Liberal questioner is for the next five minutes.
Collapse
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think Angelo is going to start.
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
Angelo, go ahead.
Collapse
View Angelo Iacono Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Angelo Iacono Profile
2021-02-22 17:31
Expand
Good afternoon. I'd also like to thank you for being with us.
My question is for Ms. Naidoo.
You talked about the T.O.R.I. program, or the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative. In an ideal world, we'd like to promote the reintegration of offenders to increase their presence in society, but we know quite well that human beings will always be human beings and that there is always a lot of uncertainty and vulnerability.
How will it be possible to control and manage this in the community and with organizations that will be needed in order to have a functional system?
Collapse
Tina Naidoo
View Tina Naidoo Profile
Tina Naidoo
2021-02-22 17:32
Expand
I believe that the cross-sector relationship is what's important. I think that in order for us to get our arms around these issues, it doesn't just take social workers; it takes the different departments that make up the criminal justice system. I believe that you have to take into account that parole and probation come from an authoritative background. Their relationship with the returning citizen is very different from that of a counsellor or a social worker. That level of trust between the community and the returning citizen has to be garnered in order for this to be productive, in order for this to be successful.
For the success of our relationships cross-sector, there has to be trust between us and the other high-level professionals who are involved in this. Also, there has to be trust between the ex-offender and the criminal justice appointees.
Did that answer the question?
Collapse
View Angelo Iacono Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Angelo Iacono Profile
2021-02-22 17:34
Expand
Yes. Thank you.
Mr. Chair, I'll be offering the rest of my time to Pam.
Collapse
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Bragdon, I can't thank you enough for bringing this bill forward. You mentioned having visited prison. I actually think that all MPs should be required to go to prison in order to do their jobs—
Collapse
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Oh, oh! You don't quite mean it that way.
Ms. Pam Damoff: —to visit a prison—
The Chair: Okay, okay. I'm just getting clarification here.
Collapse
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
—because you do get a different perspective.
I've visited quite a few. When I went to Buffalo Sage Wellness House, one of the women there talked about how it was the first time in her life she was able to heal and not just survive. We know that recidivism rates are lower for those coming out of healing lodges. We know that indigenous people are the fastest-growing prison population. Indigenous women, in particular, are up 70% to 80% out in the Prairies.
How important is bringing that indigenous perspective to the healing process when we're talking about people who are getting out of prison?
Ms. Latimer, you could start on that. If I have time, Mr. Bragdon, I'd love to hear from you on that as well.
Collapse
Catherine Latimer
View Catherine Latimer Profile
Catherine Latimer
2021-02-22 17:35
Expand
It's very important that whatever intervention is being provided resonates well with the individual who is receiving it. If culturally relevant healing approaches work, there should be more of them. We should be testing this to see what works for people.
There are some clear indications where there's a disjuncture between the preparation for reintegration and a certain group's recidivism rates. For example, Black prisoners' trajectory into lower levels of custody is slower, and their release on parole is slower, but frankly, their recidivism rates are better than those of other groups, so there's something wrong with the risk calculation tools associated with certain groups.
We need to be very mindful of that, and we really need to treat everybody's potential for overcoming their past as an individual pursuit and make available to them whatever tools and paths would be helpful.
Collapse
Results: 1 - 60 of 66788 | Page: 1 of 1114

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data