Statements made by federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais in announcing the closure of two federal, mainland prisons are not sitting well with provincial Justice Minister Felix Collins.
Toews and Dagenais announced the planned closure of Kingston Penitentiary and Leclerc prison, near Montreal, Thursday. They pointed to the facilities as being outdated and increasingly inappropriate for housing prisoners.
The two were asked if any new prisons would be built to accommodate the populations.
"Since 2006, our government has not built a single new prison and we have no intention of building a single new prison," Dagenais told reporters.
As reported by The Canadian Press, Toews said Kingston Pen has few of the open sight lines and other security features standard in modern prisons. He said the antiquated layout is hard on guards. “Institutions built in the 19th century are not appropriate for managing a 21st-century inmate population,” he said.
Kingston Penitentiary, the country’s oldest penal institution, dates to 1835. Leclerc, near Montreal, opened in 1961.
Complaints of an “antiquated” facility have similarly been made in regards to Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s, a provincial facility where some federal prisoners are currently held.
The province has been seeking federal investment into a replacement facility for HMP for years.
“The province of Newfoundland and Labrador believes the federal government should provide funding towards the capital costs of building a replacement for Her Majesty's Penitentiary as the province does house some federal inmates,” read a statement from the provincial minister late Thursday.
“In light of this announcement by the federal government today, the provincial government is looking at its options, including the housing of federal prisoners.”
Read more in Saturday’s Telegram.