Will provincial dithering ignite EMDC powderkeg?


Just ahead of us on page 5 of Saturday’s T-J is a grim accounting of life for both the guards and inmates at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.
“There’s going to be a riot within the next couple of months,” warns Trish Goden, a veteran of a riot in the Whitby jail and president of Local 108 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union representing jail guards.
Goden continues: “That’s the way it’s heading. The inmates are saying it was peaceful this time, but next time it’s not going to be. They don’t like being locked in all the time. They don’t like being crammed in. I understand the reason they are agitated and I don’t see those reasons going away.”

Interior of a holding cell for two inmates at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

Take a close look at the photo at right of a cell housing two inmates. Goden suggests you wouldn’t treat dogs in this manner.
“If you had the same amount of dogs in that space, you’d be fined. They’d take them away from you. But for some reason, humans are different. I know they’re incarcerated, but there has to be a standard of life here.”
Coincidentally, what should arrive in the electronic mailbag Friday afternoon but a high-octane media release from MPP Jeff Yurek who takes a jab at the Libs “for letting conditions deteriorate so drastically.”

At the end of last year, following a visit to the facility, Yurek submitted an Order Paper Question to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services asking how they intended to implement the recommendations from two separate investigations conducted over the past three years.
“Unfortunately, the response gave no definitive answer or time line,” advises Yurek.
“It’s indicative of the Liberals approach to things. We need action now. The conditions at Elgin-Middlesex-London continue to deteriorate and it puts lives at risk.”
We briefly touched on this situation last fall when we quoted Yurek and his observation: “It was an eye-opening experience to witness the day-to-day conditions in which the guards and management have to work.”
At least this time around Yurek is acknowledging life ain’t no bowl of cherries for the inmates either.
EMDC is a powder keg waiting to ignite, this dithering could very well prove to be the flashpoint.

City council’s attendance report card is contained in Monday’s agenda and six members have perfect records to date this year.
Mayor Heather Jackson, aldermen Lori Baldwin-Sands, Mark Cosens, Tom Johnston, Dave Warden and Sam Yusuf have attended all 27 council sessions.
Ald. Gord Campbell has missed one meeting while Ald. Jeff Kohler has sat in on 25 of 27 meetings.

As expected, no shortage of feedback emanating from Bob McCaig’s observations on union featherbedding which appeared in this corner last week.
To re-cap, McCaig advises: “It will take government with resolve to sweep aside the feather-bedding by provincial and municipal labour organizations and their untenable pension costs.”
Reader ‘Terry’ challenges McCaig with this comment on the T-J website: “To blame unions for the loss of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs is absurd to say the least. It all boils down to total lack of corporate responsibility and plain and simple greed. Corporations didn’t close up shop here in Canada because they weren’t making a good return on their investment, they abandoned Canada in pursuit of egregious profits, and they could care less who or what they exploit to get it.’
He goes on to ask who is really enjoying the free ride?
“Mr. McCaig, I would suggest rather than setting your sights on continuing to attack unions who, as you say, are on a free ride, what about our overpaid, most definitely under-worked free limo-riding, six-figure salary earning politicians? When a politician can quit in disgrace after eight years of bilking taxpayers just to collect a thousand dollars a week for life. Really, who is on the free ride?”
Also on our website, ‘less1leg’ writes in part: “Modern unions have outgrown their necessity and branched out into areas foreign to our grandfathers. Their struggles were workplace issues. Today our union head offices are being used as holding tanks for New Democrats in waiting for public office.”
Our reader concludes: “No, there is a roll for unions, but it should be restricted to workplace contract management for those workers. Not dabbling in extra-curricular political parties and politics.”
Ken Andrews recounts: “I witnessed the same happen in my former home town (Stratford, railway shops closing, CN re-trenching in general; a half-dozen furniture factories disappearing); fortunately, along came the realization that perhaps William Shakespeare could revitalize and help things prosper again!”

“There is a high number of clients that rely on this service here is St. Thomas and Elgin county, so it’s very disappointing they made this decision without any consultation.”
Mayor Heather Jackson on the closing of the local ODSP office. She told the Times-Journal the city has not been given reasons for the closure and St. Thomas is the only community where an ODSP office faces such a fate.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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