Modern chain gang plan panned

IT’S VERY DIFFICULT in this day and age of repetitive quick elections to come up with innovative headline-grabbing ideas that help to keep a premier-in-waiting’s name in front of the electorate, as they wait for the inevitable polling day to come around.

IT’S VERY DIFFICULT in this day and age of repetitive quick elections to come up with innovative headline-grabbing ideas that help to keep a premier-in-waiting’s name in front of the electorate, as they wait for the inevitable polling day to come around.

When you do get the headlines, however, be prepared for the public’s feedback, which won’t always be unanimous or supportive.

Ontario’s Conservative leader, Tim Hudak, did earn some headlines and got some newspaper story commenters’ feedback, including some kudos for his announcement that Ontario jail inmates will face a 40-hour mandatory work week if he is elected premier.

He sees prisoners raking leaves, assisting with recycling, cleaning graffiti and so on, instead of either lounging around in their cells, lifting weights in the yard, studying law or for a high school grad certificate, or even just earning a few dollars in the prison laundry.

Hudak’s plan sees them earning credits that would be used to obtain TV-watching time, coffee and other in-jail perks.

He envisages a progressive program that would be the first mandatory work plan in that province for convicted persons serving time – work that could be conducted outside of prison, at a cost of about $20-million a year.

As I said numerous commenters on the Hudak announcement see this as a good idea (so long as it doesn’t take away jobs from others.)

However, others are suggesting that the $20 million would be better spent helping Mr. Hudak, as premier, get focussed on finding jobs for the already large and seemingly growing number of unemployed taxpayers, before addressing the problems of the idle inmate. Not to mention NIMBY!

So I do think this is something of an inadequate and poorly thought out plan.

No doubt government in Ontario, as well as elsewhere, has to address the sky-rocketing costs of keeping people in clink.

But I suspect the combined costs of watching and keeping then in and out of  jail may be a bit more than an additional $20 million.

No doubt it would be popular to have ‘em working – whether it’s producing licence plates or some other entrepreneurial activity – but the cost of any assessment program, plus a guardianship program for those prisoners adjudged to be able to work safely in public, would skyrocket a lot faster than the costs of groceries, guards salaries and benefits and prison maintenance.

Back to the think tank, Mr. Hudak! The chain gang, I fear, is not a viable alternative for Ontario.




THERE CAN BE little doubt that the just-announced environmental permit change allowing KM LNG another five years to demonstrate significant start-up construction will come as a major disappointment for residents of Kitimat.

Community confidence in the future has been building in combination with recent publicity on contract awards for the smelter modernisation project along with a brisk flow of positive publicity about KM LNG’s progress.

Thus, suddenly reading that the Environmental Assessment Office permit had been extended from June 1, 2011 (today) – to June 1, 2016 could no doubt act as a confidence-deflator for many in the community who were looking to benefit from marked increases this summer in levels of construction and related business activity.

However, jumping to any conclusion could also be wrong. Multi-billion dollar projects are often seen to be in the one step-forward, two steps back mode and trying to read anything into a few vague paragraphs can be misleading and harmful.

I certainly hope that we’ll hear more encouraging news from these proponents in short order.



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