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Canada’s justice system needs less ice cream and pensions


THUNDER BAY, ON -----  October 24, 2010  -----  Many Canadian citizens are understandably agitated over recent stories about how some of our most notorious criminals are getting sweet-heart treatment at taxpayers’ expense. It is past time that our criminal justice system stopped coddling wrong-doers and emphasized that prison is also about punishment. Prison should not be fun. It should not be a place for treats, ice cream and entitlement payments. It is time to end the hug-a-thug-athon that has been going on in Canada.

Only in Canada could someone serving 11 concurrent 25-year sentences for murder collect more than $1,169 a month for OAS and the GIS. But that’s how it is with senior citizen Clifford Olson.

First it was serial child murderer Clifford Olson getting Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Next it was convicted sadosexual serial murderer Colonel Russell Williams keeping his rank and his full military pension. In the meantime taxpayers learned that the government had put out a contract for $43,000 for ice cream for prisoners in Quebec prisons; including the one holding Olson.

In late March this last spring, an article appeared in which Clifford Olson had bragged that he was OAS and Guaranteed Income Supplement GIS payments, courtesy of the federal government and courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer. This amounts to $14,028 a year for him and for every prisoner like him.

The Harper government is moving to end this practice with a bill before Parliament. Sadly, nothing moves fast in Ottawa and seven months later it is still being reviewed. The bill is simple and clear and should just be passed – and fast.

In the United Kingdom prisoners aren’t even allowed to collect their pension equivalent of CPP. Yet, here in Canada, it’s a struggle even to take away an entitlement the prisoners didn’t even pay into.

The stepmother of one of Clifford Olson’s victims pointed out how she resents paying twice for him; $121,294 a year to jail him and then again for his OAS and GIS entitlement payments. This same sentiment of frustration appropriately also applies to Colonel Williams, who currently is drawing full pay and stands to draw his full military pension.

This murderous scumbag is a disgrace to the uniform and the Canadian Armed Forces. To avoid further tarnishing the Forces, the government should do anything and everything to strip him of rank and should try to minimize any benefits paid to him – such as his pension. Thankfully, Defence Minister McKay is reported to be investigating doing just that.

The icing on the cake for criminals is the ice cream in their dishes.  Families Against Crime and Trauma (FACT) recently shed light on a $43,000 federal contract for ice cream in Quebec prisons. Even my kids understand that ice cream is a special treat. Inmates should not be getting special treats.

An advocate for FACT put it best “as a mother of a murdered child I am dumb struck by this. I cannot even begin to tell you how shocked I was. This sounds almost like a joke – a joke on taxpayers and the victims of crime.”

A U.S. Sheriff has the right idea. Sheriff Arpaio has banned smoking, coffee, movies, pornographic magazines, and unrestricted TV in all jails. He has the cheapest meals in the U.S. too. Arpaio has male chain gangs, and the world’s first-ever female and juvenile chain gangs. They clean streets, paint over graffiti, and bury the indigent in the county cemetery. He even stopped serving them salt and pepper to save taxpayers $20,000 a year.

What Canada’s justice system needs is less ice cream and pensions and more of what Sheriff Arpaio is serving up.

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