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Evidence of meeting #33 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was complaint.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jay Pyke  Warden, Kingston Penitentiary, Correctional Service of Canada

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

All right—

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

We can speak for ourselves on this, and I would appreciate it if the member—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Okay. Well—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

I could find the quote, but anyway, there has been that suggestion.

April 3rd, 2012 / 3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Chair, I think the point that was raised was what the safeguards are in case somebody found that their hands were tied—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

It's not off your time, Ms. Hoeppner.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Yes, Mr. Chair, that's your ruling.

I think the question was a good-faith question. It was to say, well, what are the safeguards in the case of somebody being labelled a vexatious complainant, and then 99.9% of the time—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Okay. I think I'm getting the point.

I think the question has come up, but maybe not so much as a direct quote, that “this is what would happen”. The question has come up, so just as long as you know and Ms. Hoeppner knows that it wasn't as a matter of fact that this is exactly what will happen.... But it was questioned as to whether or not it could happen.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Chair, thank you very much, but I do.... I've been at every one of these meetings.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Well, if you have the quote, then quote, but—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

I do. It was Mr. Scarpaleggia—

3:55 p.m.

An hon. member

[Inaudible—Editor]

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Yes. He said—

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

It was a hypothetical—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

This is my chance to ask the question.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

And I think she should be allowed. I'm—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

So on a hypothetical, then?

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Yes, and Francis can—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Thank you. Point taken.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Thank you very much.

I can read it. He said:

What happens if you have somebody who hasn't been acting in good faith, as you say, and they're labelled a vexatious complainant, and then a couple of days later a guard does something? Knowing that the person has been labelled and their hands are now tied, a guard decides to take advantage of the situation and really give it to the offender.

And I—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

So the question is, what happens then?

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Right. My question to the warden, if I could continue—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Yes, your time starts again.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Thank you very much.

What would your response be to that? Now we're talking about correctional officers who have actually proven not only that they obey the laws of the land and that they contribute as citizens but also that their professions are of the highest integrity and that they perform their duties with the highest integrity.

Is there ever that concern? Maybe you could link it to the review process, which happens every six months. I'm wondering how you feel about that six-month timeframe.

Could you speak to that? Thank you.

3:55 p.m.

Warden, Kingston Penitentiary, Correctional Service of Canada

Jay Pyke

Thank you for recognizing that. I am proud of my staff. I'm very partial to the public service values they demonstrate daily.

I guess that would be my first response. As the warden, I like to believe we follow the public service values in essence, in principle, and in practice. That said, I know we're dealing in hypotheticals here. I caught that clearly, I think, given what I heard. Hypothetically, if we were to have wrongdoing...I guess for me, from my experience—I've been a correctional officer, and I've been on the floor and supervised that group—there's never one correctional officer operating by himself, especially in a living unit situation. You always have at least two officers down a living unit. You always have at least one other officer “vestibuling” that living unit. There are always three individuals, in general terms—in a maximum environment, which is my experience—related to any inmate contact in those contexts.

In terms of recourse, further to the complaint process, there's the correctional manager who's assigned to the living units themselves, who oversees the living units. I guess if an inmate were to be subjected to an issue of that nature, one recourse would be to approach the correctional manager, who's on the unit daily, to indicate there had been an altercation or a problem.

There's an assigned correctional officer, too, or a parole officer who's also part of the case management team for that inmate. The inmate could also approach a member of the case management team to indicate that there had been a concern.

Ultimately, they can pick up the phone. They can call the Office of the Correctional Investigator. Its ombudsman role is outside of our CSC functioning, period. The Office of the Correctional Investigator certainly could investigate a complaint of that nature as well.

That's what I can think of off the top, but I would think there are several measures of recourse or checks and balances in there. There have certainly been allegations of wrongdoing, which have been investigated through internal investigations, fact-finding investigations, that have been disciplinary in nature at times. Again, individuals of this nature would be designated due to the frivolous nature of complaints, so the process would be to determine whether there was merit to what was being put forward. That would be where we'd start it.