‘Ottawa’ Tory Leader to Tour Ottawa Jail Friday
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader Patrick Brown is expected to tour Ottawa’s jail Friday.
Brown will be accompanied on the tour of the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre by the head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Warren “Smokey” Thomas.
“He just wants to tour it,” said Thomas, whose union represents correctional officers. “Everything that’s ever been a complaint he’d like to see.”
A spokesperson for Brown did not immediately reply to questions about the tour.
Brown’s tour comes as a task force made up of correctional staff, the city’s Crown Attorney, a defence lawyer, and members of prisoner advocacy groups work to try and find both short and long-term solutions to deal with overcrowding at the jail on Innes Road by June 1.
The task force was struck after this paper reported that inmates were routinely being held in damp and mouldy shower cells. As a result of the report, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi ordered the immediate end to a practice he called “absolutely unacceptable and appalling.”
But not even three days after the minister’s order, the jail was once again housing inmates in the shower cells. The jail’s superintendent, Maureen Harvey, was dismissed a day later.
Since then, an inmate in solitary confinement killed himself. It was the second death at the institution over a two-week period – another inmate in the jail’s health care unit died after going into cardiac arrest at the end of March.
Meanwhile, another inmate who had spent 18 months in solitary confinement at the jail was found unfit to stand trial due to mental health issues.
And while the jail has regularly hosted tours for MPPs, including a pair of tours for NDP critic Jennifer French and another for PC MPP Randy Hillier, the ministry and Naqvi continue to refuse repeated requests for a tour of the jail by Postmedia reporters that date back more than a year.
The Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre isn’t the first jail Brown has toured. Thomas went on a tour of the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre with Brown about a month ago, he said.