The Facts: • Crime has significant decreased in Canada, hitting its lowest record in 2013 since 1969. • However, there are more innocent people in jail than convicted ones due to a huge backlog in hearings, according to The Globe and Mail. • The number of visible minority inmates has risen by 75% over a period of ten years, according to the federal prison ombudsman. • Experts say far too many people are being held in jail when they could be serving bail outside of prison, which is better for reintegration and helps save money. • The Conservative government cut funding to part-time chaplains in 2012 which primarily affected chaplains for minority faiths, including Muslim inmates. • Chaplaincy was privatized in 2013 and inmates from minority faiths have complained of discriminatory treatment. • The federal prison’s only full-time Muslim chaplain resigned in protest in 2014.
The Issues: • Inmates are entitled to human rights; however, there are concerns that freedom of religion is being curtailed in federal penitentiaries. • The current government refuses to sign on to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; Some experts say this would result in greater scrutiny of Canada’s use of solitary confinement. • Black, Aboriginal, and mentally-ill inmates, are more likely to be placed in solitary confinement than other inmates, according to Canada’s prison ombudsman.
The Parties: Conservatives: • Cuts to chaplain services affecting minority faiths. • Privatized chaplaincy. • Won’t sign on to Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. • Dismissed calls to limit use of solitary confinement.
Liberals: • The Liberals criticized the current government for cutting chaplaincy services in prisons for non-Christian inmates as “clearly discriminatory”.
No public statements but have both criticized Conservative policies.
Questions to ask candidates: • How would you resolve the backlog in the courts? • What sort of support do you think there should be for inmates seeking religious counseling in prisons? • Would you restore funding towards chaplaincy services that would ensure equal access to spiritual services for all faith groups?
Law & Order
Law & Order