The Future of Prison Farms II

futureofprisonfarmsindexIn July 2009, Deconstructing Dinner aired a one-hour feature on the now in-process closure of Canada’s prison farm system. That episode came only months after it was discovered in February 2009 that Corrections Service Canada alongside Public Safety Canada had already planned the closure of the 150-year old program. With six farms having been operated in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the discovery of the news sparked an ongoing and active campaign of opposition seeking to halt the closures.

On this part II of our coverage we listen to audio from the February 1, 2010 democratic dialogue hosted in Steinbach, Manitoba where Members of Parliament were invited to debate the prison farm closures. The event was strategically hosted in the political riding of the recently appointed Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews. The episode also examines a rather feisty exchange within Canada’s Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. On November 17, 2009, Liberal Member of Parliament Wayne Easter tabled a motion requesting that the Committee explore the closure of the prison farm system.


Wayne Easter member of parliament, Malpeque, Liberal Party of Canada (North Wiltshire, PEI) – Wayne was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and was raised on the family farm in North Wiltshire. Wayne entered politics in 1993 when he was officially elected as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Malpeque, P.E.I. He was re-elected in 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008. In Parliament, Wayne has served as Solicitor General of Canada, Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Oceans, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Agri-Food with special responsibilities for the Rural Secretariat, and is currently the Liberal Party’s Opposition Critic on Agriculture and Agri-Food. Wayne was National President and CEO of the National Farmers Union for 11 years.

James Bezan member of parliament, Selkirk-Interlake, Conservative Party of Canada(Teulon, MB) – In 2004, James was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative MP. Bezan attended Olds College in Alberta where he majored in livestock technology and received a degree in Agricultural Production. Bezan worked in the livestock and cattle industries in the 1980s and 1990s, and started his own company in 1996. He served as Chief Executive Officer of the Manitoba Cattle Producer’s Association and has sat on numerous boards in the fields of cattle and food production. He operates a farm near Teulon, Manitoba.

Carol Hughes member of parliament, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) (Elliot Lake, ON) – Carol was elected to represent the electoral district of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing in the 2008 Canadian federal election. Carol was formerly employed with Probation and Parole Services at Elliot Lake and Youth Justice Services in Sudbury.

Pierre Lemieux member of parliament, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Conservative Party of Canada (Casselman, ON) – Pierre was elected to represent the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell in 2006, narrowly defeating his Liberal opponent. Pierre is the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Agri-Food.

André Bellavance member of parliament, Richmond-Arthabaska, Bloc-Quebeçois(Victoriaville, QC) – André has representing the riding of Richmon-Arthabaska since 2004. André has served as the party’s critic on Agriculture and Agri-Food since 2006 and has been a member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food since 2004.

Andrew McCann spokesperson, Save Our Prison Farms Coalition (Kingston, ON) – Among his active role with the Save Our Prison Farms coalition, Andrew represents Urban Agriculture Kingston and has worked on many food security initiatives including the Sustainable Local Food Certificate offered at St. Lawrence College.

John Hutton director, John Howard Society of Manitoba (Winnipeg, MB) – >The John Howard Society works with men in conflict with the law, before, during and after incarceration. They also look at ways to repair harm and restore relationships damaged by crime.

Mark Holland member of parliament, Ajax-Pickering, Liberal Party of Canada (Pickering, ON) – As one of the youngest members of the Liberal Caucas, Mark Holland was first elected in 2004 and has represented the riding of Ajax-Pickering ever since. As a Member of Parliament, Holland serves as the Liberal party’s critic for Public Safety and National Security and is Vice Chair of the Public Safety and National Security Committee.

Niki Ashton member of parliament, Churchill, New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP)(Thompson, MB) – Niki has represented the Churchill riding since 2008 and serves as the NDP’s critic on Rural and Community Development.

Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)