Madam Speaker, a strange sort of slow-motion sparring match has been taking place in the Commons since March 22, when I first rose to ask the Minister of Public Safety about the government's plans for a potential goat farm at Joyceville Institution. I have asked questions over and over again on a very specific matter: Will the government guarantee that it will not permit CORCAN, the profit-making prison industry arm of the Correctional Services Canada, to establish a goat farm?
Various spokesmen for the government, sometimes the minister, sometimes the parliamentary secretary and on one occasion the member for Kingston and the Islands, have answered that there is at present no goat farm and no contract to start building one. A typical response is this one from May 30: “Correctional Service Canada does not possess any goats, and there are no contracts for the sale of goat milk.”
Now, I do not doubt that this is true, but what I want is something different: a commitment from the government that it will absolutely, permanently close off the option of starting a goat operation. There is a real need for a definitive policy statement.
It is abundantly clear that Correctional Service Canada remains very much committed to creating a commercial goat farm. Every time we get a definitive-sounding answer in the House of Commons, like the one I just recited, we get the opposite from correctional services. For example, two days after I was told that there are no goats and there is no contract, CSC restated to the media that while at present there are no plans for dairy goat operations, it would “reassess at a later date”, which means that a goat farm employing convict labour at below-market rates appears to still be on the table.
Meanwhile, a $10-million contract has been issued for the construction of a dairy cow barn at Joyceville, despite the fact that correctional services is legally prohibited from using this milk to feed the inmate community. It is also illegally prohibited from selling it externally because it has no dairy quota. The sole plausible purpose for this cow's milk must be the one that correctional services intended from the start: to feed the baby goats whose own mothers' milk is being sold commercially.
Of course, there is this important detail: The site plan embedded in the $10-million contract contains something labelled “Future Goat Barn. Not in Contract”, and something called “Future Septic System for Goat Barn”. The part of the contract labelled “project description” could hardly be less ambiguous on this point: “It is the intent of Correctional Services Canada to construct two livestock barns, one for Cattle and one for Goats at the Joyceville Institution. The proposed Goat barn will have an approximate footprint of 6500 square meters.” It is abundantly clear that this contract is simply stage one of a two-stage construction project for a commercial goat farm.
While I am confident that Corrections Canada still does not own any goats and still does not have any contract for the sale of goat milk, I ask this once again, as I did on June 10: Will the government order Correctional Services Canada to end the possibility of any future reassessment of the goat farm, and will the government stop spending millions on the infrastructure for that goat farm, the one that it claims it does not want? Specifically, will the government commit to instructing Correctional Services Canada that no second Joyceville construction contract will be issued?