I will be working today in Ottawa, again.
Good news for Ontario, PC leader Tim Hudak promises to bring forced labour to Ontario's prisons, that's right a bit of Laogai* right here In Ontario.
Laogai which is an abbreviation for Láodòng Gāizào means "reform through labour" and was a slogan of the Chinese criminal justice system, where some 50 million persons have been sent into forced labour camps the last 50 years. Of course the PRC officially ended the policy in the late '90s. (Yeah, I think it's a little odd that I know this too.)
Canada also has a strong position on forced labour as well and Mr. Hudak may wish to educate himself. Forced labour is in direct violation of the Canadian Constitution in its Charter of Rights and Freedoms which disallows forced labour in any form.
Canada is also a signatory to the resolutions of the International Labour Organization in Geneva which also calls for the abolishment of forced labour.
But let's step over the huge legal reasons why not to do this, let's look at the practical and the general taste of it, shall we? Hudak thinks it's a good idea to have work crews of Ontario inmates washing graffiti from public building walls and picking up trash.
Hmmm.. A bunch of violent criminals out on the street? Nope, no violent criminals Hudak says. Okay, but what about schedules for appearances, trial preparations, won't this work interfere? Nope, no one that is awaiting trial or sentencing either according to the grand plan. What about the work for pay that occurs now in the prison system, aren't these the same guys that earn a few dollars doing the laundry, washing dishes, cooking means, performing the janitorial services? Perhaps Hudak's plan calls for hiring of outside staff to perform these jobs.
Okay, so a non-violent offended that has been sentenced is the target deadbeat. And what if he or she just doesn't want to do the work. Gets on the bus (don't forget we have to pay to transport these prisoners), rides to downtown Toronto, gets off the bus, no doubt surrounded by extra prison guards, also drawing a salary, and then refuses to scrub the wall.
Now what? Do we as a society now expect the chain gang boss looking through mirror sun glasses to pull out a whip and teach the impudent some manners? A little too 'Cool hand Luke' for me thank you.
Let's remind ourselves that forced prison labour has no rehabilitative benefit, but rather causes a greater contempt for society in the inmate, and has also found not to have any deterrent benefit either. Combine this with the illegal aspect of Hudak's game plan, and the unsavory implementation, and the cost to the tax payers and one wonders why is this even being proposed.
Have a good day.