An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE’S AN OLD SAYING in the news business, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”
It’s equally true in politics.
The federal Conservatives have been in a lather during the past week over the transfer of a convicted killer from a medium security prison to an indigenous healing lodge in rural Saskatchewan.
The murderer, Terri-Lynne McClintic, apparently isn’t indigenous, and healing lodges have their critics, but those aren’t the main issues. The outrage is over what’s being characterized as a “Taj Mahal” environment for someone guilty of such a terrible crime.
Healing lodges are about cultural and spiritual teachings, and are supposed to reduce recidivism — ie. the commission of crimes after prisoners are released.
They don’t have bars; they have “campuses.” The Conservatives don’t like that — they want McClintic “behind bars.” And she shouldn’t have been moved less than 10 years after her conviction, they say.
Correctional Service Canada defends the transfer. It’s true this healing lodge — the Okimaw Ohci facility — doesn’t have the traditional barbed wire fences but a Correctional Service Canada reportconfirms that the healing lodges directly under its jurisdiction “are similar to minimum-security CSC facilities in terms of day-to-day operations.”
It says the profile of offenders in healing lodges is similar to those that haven’t been transferred. About 65 per cent of offenders in both are incarcerated for violent offences.
So these healing lodges, while not perfect, aren’t the posh resorts being painted by the Tories.
What’s going on here is a populist appeal to the perception that people convicted of the worst of crimes should be locked away in the worst of conditions and made to suffer for the duration of their penalties.
The other end of the spectrum, though, says the system needs to prepare them to the best degree possible for the day they’re released back into the population.
So is the Conservatives’ concern more about public safety, or about an opportunity to trash the Liberals?
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.