Conservative spin on high as prison cash flows

Tony ClementThe Tory cash train continues its cross-country prison tour, making whistlestops in every community where the government hopes a mammoth expansion plan can be spun as economic development. Yesterday, Industry Minister Tony Clement played the part of conductor, tossing $15 million from the back step of the caboose in Gravenhurst, Ontario, site of Fenbrook Institution, a medium-security federal penitentiary, one of 35 in the country where new cells will be built (shush though, don’t be spreading that around – it’s still considered top secret by the government and Corrections Canada, despite the fact that I got my hands on the secret list early last month and published it.)

Last week, I predicted that the Conservatives likely would trot out a minister in Gravenhurst for a Fenbrook announcement, since it’s a fairly safe spot, far from the prying eyes of big media and a good distance away from Kingston, Ontario, where noisy and troublesome protesters drew national attention to the Conservative government’s prison farm shutdowns. Sources tell me that government officials are trying desperately to avoid protester confrontation as they roll out these campaign-style prison announcements. Remarkably, rather than acknowledge publicly that they’re adding cells to 35 prisons – a necessity because the inmate population is ballooning because of get-tough legislative changes – the Tories continue to announce the expansions individually, as if they were part of an economic development strategy. Conservative strategists must have been happy to see local news coverage of yesterday’s Gravenhurst announcement, which keyed on the creation of new jobs, without a mention of the mounting tide of criticism of the Tory corrections policies. Criminologists, researchers and other experts argue the Harper government is steering Canada toward the creation of an oppressive prison complex that will churns out more violent criminals and will do nothing to make communities safer.

If you’re keeping score, here’s the list of 35 prisons that are being expanded, with the announcements made to date indicated:

Springhill Institution $$$$plans announced
Westmorland Institution
Atlantic Institution
Montée Saint-François
La Macaza
Federal Training Centre
Donnacona Institution
Frontenac Institution
Fenbrook Institution $$$$plans announced
Pittsburgh Institution
Bath Institution
Beaver Creek Institution
Collins Bay Institution
Rockwood Institution
Bowden Institution $$$$plans announced
Riverbend Institution
Drumheller Institution $$$$plans announced
Drumheller Institution (Minimum)
Edmonton Institution
Bowden Institution $$$$plans announced
RHC/Pacific Institution
Pê Sâkâstêw Centre
Mission Institution
Willow Cree Healing Centre
Kent Institution
Ferndale Institution
William Head Institution
Nova Institution for Women
Joliette Institution
Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario
Edmonton Institution for Women
Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge
Fraser Valley Institution for Women

» Tories convert prison crisis into pork barreling opportunity: MP
» Prison bosses plan to expand 35 penitentiaries
» Prison bosses change their rules to expand double bunking
» Corrections won’t say what it’s doing with taxpayer cash



  1. Fenbrook Institution may appear like a cottage resort but the treatment of the inmates and particularly family members who visit them is more like something out of a horror movie. The false positives on the ION scanner needs investigation. There is an extremely high number which causes families to be separated and creates many many angry men. Visitors are never sure if they are going to make it past the scanner or the drug dog. Fenbrook’s staff need thorough investigation by someone outside of CSC