Harper and his Reformers have already put out a tender under NAFTA to provide dairy products to our prisons, rather than maintain a rehabilitation program that has been enormously successful.
Insider Ian Brodie, when asked why the Harper government ignored expert advice, provided us with the answer:
Ian Brodie, the former university political science professor who served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff from 2006 to 2008, explained why in an unusually candid talk on Conservative strategy last spring at McGill University in Montreal. “Every time we proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, sociologists, criminologists, defence lawyers and Liberals attacked us for proposing measures that the evidence apparently showed did not work,” Brodie said. “That was a good thing for us politically, in that sociologists, criminologists and defence lawyers were and are all held in lower repute than Conservative politicians by the voting public. Politically it helped us tremendously to be attacked by this coalition of university types.”
Yes Kids. Stay in school and some day maybe you can be reduced to a "University Type".
They just don't get it.
The Harper government wants to close prison farms for several stated reasons. One is that few inmates who work in the farm program actually go on to farm, once released. Well, of course. An ex-convict needs capital to buy land and farm machinery, and where is he to find that? A prisoner who has worked on the land and with animals leaves jail with something not easily captured on ledgers, something that most prisons are hard pressed to provide: the beginnings of groundedness and a sense of peace, perhaps even a feeling of a job well done.After losing an important court case, "Save the Prison Farms" will now have to resort to civil disobedience. They are using a donkey, in the hopes that perhaps he can speak 'Ass', clearly the only language neoconservatives understand.
For those of us following this movement, we are not surprised. Stephen Harper has always had an aversion to farming, preferring the corporate boardrooms to the agricultural community.
Journalist and author Murray Dobbin was there when the Reform Party was still just a glint in Harper's eye:
Three policies* in The Reformer struck me immediately and started me on the course of writing this book. The first was on agriculture. I have an urban background, but no self-respecting student of politics in Saskatchewan is unfamiliar with the issues facing farmers. The farm-policy resolution which startled me stated that the party's policy was not guided by the interests of producers, but by the "demand of consumers for ... secure supplies of food at the lowest competitive prices."What Harper fails to understand is that in Kingston, we will make this an election issue. Their candidate Brian Abrams has refused to attend any meetings and has done absolutely nothing to help the cause. This gives Kingstonians a glimpse into what would happen if he was elected. He will be nothing more than a potted plant in Harper's halls, and he already has enough of those.
While this resolution might not cause alarm at the dinner tables of urban Canada, it is tantamount to a declaration of war on the family farm. It was a cheap food policy. If actually carried out it could wipe out half the farmers in western Canada. Farmers, today, are in greater danger of bankruptcy than at any time since the 1930s: grain prices are actually comparatively lower than they were then. If Reform was a populist party, what explained a farm policy that would reverse sixty years of populist reforms? (2)
Something for them to think about.
* The other two were medicare. "Not only was the policy one of eliminating the nation-wide health care system, but it was phrased in such a way that the impact of the policy was obscured ... one system for the rich and another for the poor." and the GST. "... the Party's Policy Committee, declaring that the Reform Party only opposed the GST "in its present form" and suggesting a Reform government would keep the tax."
1. Cultivating convicts: Considering their effect on prisoners, it would be folly to close down Canada's prison farms, By Lawrence Scanlan, Globe and Mail, December 07, 2009
2. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, by Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, Preface vii