Evidence of meeting #82 for Public Safety and National Security in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was drugs.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Irene Mathias  Representative, Mothers Offering Mutual Support
Anne Cattral  Representative, Mothers Offering Mutual Support
Stacey Hannem  Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Criminology, Wilfrid Laurier University, As an Individual
Margaret Fitzpatrick  As an Individual
Gail LeSarge  As an Individual

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Your time is up.

Next is Ms. Leitch for five minutes.

November 2nd, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

One earlier comment by a member opposite was that the onus was really on you with regard to suggesting a process for dealing with other personnel and individuals entering the area. I don't believe that's the case. I think it's the government's responsibility. I think the research is actually very clear that other personnel and contractors are part of the problem here. That research is established.

Madam LeSarge, do you have some thoughts with regard to what was asked by the government—albeit I don't believe it's your responsibility—and what you think some of those other things are that should be done, or should there just be an equity of fairness among everyone entering institutions?

Also, I'll ask all of you about the issue around privacy. If you are now part of a list because you were a false positive, where does that information go? Do you know? Do you have any questions of the government about how the information about you, which may place you on a list you don't even know about, is being utilized? Do you have questions about that?

10:25 a.m.

As an Individual

Gail LeSarge

I've never thought about that, that I'm on some list somewhere. It's not something I concern myself with.

As far as things that could possibly change are concerned, there's a whole CSC culture that is generally punitive, in my view, and this is just part of it, but that's not something that's going to be remedied anytime soon.

As Anne was stating, there are all these other things in place when you're coming through and then there's the ion scanner. The ion scanner is the thing that seems to give us a lot of problems, even those of us who aren't wanting to cause any harm or do anything wrong. There's the dog. I think that, as Peggy said, an immediate moratorium would be reasonable if we still have the dog. The dog is still there, and it does effective searches—we hope—most of the time. I've been searched with the dog every single time.

Using the metal detector, the other instruments, the dog, and the observation...why not go with that for a while, while the moratorium is in place? I don't have any other suggestions. I just want to be treated fairly.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Do you think all individuals entering the institutions, no matter what their background, should be treated exactly the same way?

10:25 a.m.

As an Individual

Gail LeSarge

Yes, if they've already been vetted and screened as a visitor.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Mr. Paul-Hus, you have two minutes left.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Ms. Fitzpatrick, you were quite direct at the start of your testimony. You said that the use of this device violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You would like us to limit its use and asked for a moratorium. I would like you to explain how this device violates the charter as compared to other inspection systems.

10:30 a.m.

As an Individual

Margaret Fitzpatrick

Well, when you can take a reasonable or not even a reasonable suspicion and prosecute or accuse a person and treat them as if they're guilty, without due process.... Inmates have the right to have due process. There are Supreme Court cases that have affirmed that. Cardinal v. Kent Institution in 1985 affirmed the fact that if the privileges of inmates that are given through the power of the policy of Corrections are going to be removed, they have to follow due process. There has to be a chance for the inmate to speak. To remove his right to have visitors is one of those.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Does the charter violation involve the visitors, or are you talking about the inmates who have the right to have visitors?

Is that the problem?

10:30 a.m.

As an Individual

Margaret Fitzpatrick

Well, it's freedom of association. That was one of the issues that came up with the American situation. That's one of the issues that came up under I believe the second amendment in the United States. I'm not totally sure about which amendment it is. I think it's the second one on freedom of association.

As long as they are following the rules and there's no.... You do have the right to associate with your family. That was brought into this discussion that Stacey had. It was a constitutional issue as well as an issue of—

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Ms. Fitzpatrick.

Mr. Dubé, you have five minutes, please.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you.

You both seem to want to jump in there. Perhaps I'll give you the opportunity to add what you want to add.

10:30 a.m.

Representative, Mothers Offering Mutual Support

Irene Mathias

I would like to say that the need for an effective way to screen staff and maintenance workers is as urgently needed as stopping the use of the ion scanner on visitors.

Please don't think you could just extend the existing system using the ion scanner to all of the staff and the workers. Staff come in and out. There are coffee breaks. They come in and out multiple times a day. It would clog everything up.

I think CSC needs to be encouraged or directed to find alternative methods of effective screening of drugs on all people entering prisons.

Thank you.

10:30 a.m.

Representative, Mothers Offering Mutual Support

Anne Cattral

To add to the things that are already in place for detecting drugs or contraband, I would like to add that hopefully everybody knows that post visit all of the inmates leaving the room are strip-searched.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you.

I still have a few minutes left. As we wind down the meeting, I want to nail down the things we would ask both the government and the Correctional Service of Canada to do. Feel free to expand on these points.

We have the moratorium on the use of the ion scanner, and I think we can say a third party study of the efficacy—or not—of the technology as well. Then, perhaps, we could have a study of alternative means to detect drugs in prisons, because I think there's also a consensus that certainly no one at this table, both you and members of the committee, is saying that we want to ignore that problem. Are those the three things? Is there anything that would be added to that?

Go ahead, Dr. Hannem.

10:30 a.m.

Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Criminology, Wilfrid Laurier University, As an Individual

Dr. Stacey Hannem

Whatever technology the government ultimately decides to adopt, I would encourage that they undertake to very carefully engage a third party researcher—a scientist or somebody appropriate—to do a controlled experiment of that technology, because one of the things about technology is that it is big business.

All the technology companies that design and market security technology are in the business to make money. They will tell you that their security technology is effective, much as Taser/Axon talked about their weapons as non-lethal, and then “oh, shock of shocks”, they found out that actually maybe they're less lethal. They had to change the marketing a bit, right?

Security technology firms want to make money. They will tell you that the technology is effective. If you don't follow through and do your own studies, you're relying on their marketing teams to tell you how the technology works.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Ms. Fitzpatrick, I think you wanted to jump in there.

10:35 a.m.

As an Individual

Margaret Fitzpatrick

I believe that policy CD 566-8-1, which is the policy that outlines the procedures around the ion scanner, needs to include a requirement that a search be conducted before any sanctions are ever imposed on anyone. If they do not find contraband, nothing happens, no records are kept, and inmates don't have anything on their file. Just the fact that it was an ion scan hit has zero evidentiary value. You cannot keep adding zero plus zero plus zero and getting a history of problems with a visitor when there is no history because there is no value to the evidence, because there is no evidence.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Great. I think we can end on that, unless anyone else has anything to add.

Thank you.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Mr. Dubé.

Mr. Spengemann, please. You have five minutes.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Chair, thank you very much. I want to use my time to draw a broader circle around the problem. The problem really is the demand for drugs, narcotics, and illicit substances in our prison system.

I wanted to ask each of you—whoever is willing and able to comment—what you think the concerns are with respect to current programming, addiction counselling, and taking steps to prevent addiction in the prison system. How well are we doing? What do we need to do better in that particular area, given the psychology around incarceration?

10:35 a.m.

Representative, Mothers Offering Mutual Support

Irene Mathias

There is programming in federal institutions. There's a considerable problem with it in general, but as it relates to support for people who have substance abuse, it's a serious problem. The programming used to be subject-driven. There were packages of different areas of programming that inmates could get relating to the nature of their offence. Some people would get stuff related to the use of child pornography, other people would get anger management, and other people would get substance abuse counselling.

What has happened is that the programming has been amalgamated into a general program that all inmates go through. They all have to go through all of it, regardless of whether it's relevant to them. Certainly, the impact of this amalgamation of programming has been a bottleneck. People are waiting years to begin the programming because they don't have enough people to do it and everybody has to have all of it.

Somebody who has gone through detention and has had no support there finally gets sentenced and goes into a federal institution and is not getting any support there. They're going through all the stresses and whatever of being in prison and not until maybe a year later beginning their programming.

Within the loved ones in our MOMS family, we know people who have waited so long that they have been denied parole hearings at the one-third and two-thirds times because they had not completed programming, not of their own volition but because it wasn't offered to them, and then they finally are released at warrant expiry without having done any programming.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Thank you very much.

Professor Hannem, I asked earlier about the gender impact and you indicated that there wasn't really an appreciable one. What about our indigenous communities? This committee is very interested in indigenous communities as related to our correctional system. In fact, we're studying the issue. What can you tell us about any potential disparate impact on our indigenous population in corrections?

10:35 a.m.

Associate Professor and Department Chair, Department of Criminology, Wilfrid Laurier University, As an Individual

Dr. Stacey Hannem

We do know that indigenous peoples coming into the federal correctional system by and large and more often than not will have addictions issues and histories of substance abuse. Of course, these are the legacies of our colonial response to them. When I talk about the disparate use of ion scanning and punitive measures on people who have histories of drugs or drug-connected offences, that would certainly disproportionately affect that population.

I would encourage the committee to think even more broadly about the issue of drugs in prisons, because we can put programs in place, yes, but prisons are not nice places, and prisons are not good places to effect rehabilitative programming. The places in the world that have had the most success with rehabilitation and with reduced levels of drugs and reduced recidivism take a broader approach of care towards their prisoners.

Even in terms of the most recent reports in the media about poor food, all these sorts of things affect inmate morale and mental health, affect the way they respond to the correctional officers who are doing the programming, and affect their receptiveness to programming. Of course, if you are struggling with mental health, and if you're depressed and you're not getting adequate food, you can imagine that dealing with an addiction is not probably the first thing on your list of things to do.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Chair, thanks very much. Those are my questions.