Dear Mr. Toews;
I thank you for your letter of December 9, 2010. It was good to finally hear from you. I must admit that it confounds me quite a bit, however, since you thank me for a letter I sent you one year ago, and which, last September, you told several of our members that you never received.
Nonetheless, following the visit our members paid you in Steinbach, I was encouraged to hear from your political attaché, who asked me to send a proposed agenda covering the points we would like to discuss, as well as a list of possible dates for a meeting. We suggested a number of topics and dates… but have not heard back from your office.
If you sense a certain amount of frustration on my part, you are correct. Your letter represents a flagrant lack of respect given that we have tried for a year to discuss with you the many urgent issues facing the Correctional Service of Canada.
The following is a List of our efforts to get your attention:
January 27, 2010: I sent you a letter congratulating you on your recent appointment as Public Safety Minister by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and invited you to discuss current challenges facing the Correctional Service. No response is received.
May 27, 2010: I wrote a second letter reiterating the union’s request for a meeting. This time, after noting that the union does not take political positions regarding government legislation, I explained that I would like to explain the impacts of recent legislation on the Correctional Service in general and on the health and safety of our union’s members in particular. Once again, there is no response.
September 25, 2010: A small delegation of our members attended your outdoor community event in Steinbach. They hand delivered a third letter asking once again for a meeting.
October 8, 2010: Your aide contacted me to inquire about my availability. I emailed him a series of possible dates for meetings in October and early November.
October 14, 2010: I responded to a subsequent request for discussion topics: I suggested new penitentiary construction, inmate population management, workforce plans and specific health and safety issues as possible agenda topics. No communication is received following this email.
November 12, 2010: In a last-ditch effort to get your attention at Stony Mountain Institution, last November, you told the union’s Prairie Regional President, Mr. Kevin Grabowsky, that you are not responsible for the issues we want to discuss.
We disagree. If not with you, who? The prime minister? It is your government that is taking the decisions to expand our prison system dramatically while not ensuring that security is sufficiently enforced.
Mr. Toews, as Minister of Public Safety you have the responsibility to respect the citizens of Canada and the organizations they choose to represent them. And yet, you are the first minister in this department to refuse to meet with the correctional officers under your responsibility since our union was founded.
The issues that confront our members are not going away. And neither will we. We will continue our efforts to get a hearing from your government regarding our members’ concerns about the dangers to them and the public posed by the new construction projects and the modification of inmate management guidelines.
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Mr. Don Head, CSC Commissioner