Quebec in Market for Prison Space Interested in Federal Leclerc Institution

14 Oct, 2012

Quebec has quietly signaled its interest in buying Leclerc Institution, an aging medium-security federal prison set to close by 2015.

A spokesperson from Quebec’s Public Security Minister Robert Dutil confirmed the province has told the federal government of its interest as it tries to provide more space in provincial prisons.

“We notified the federal government of our interest in the context of working to increase our prison capacity and one of the scenarios we’re studying is Leclerc Institution as an option,” said Mathieu St-Pierre.

Julie Carmichael, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, said no decisions have been made yet. She noted however, that the federal government’s recent decision to close Leclerc in Laval as well as Kingston Penitentiary and the adjoining Regional Treatment Centre, was based on the fact the facilities no longer meet today’s standards.

Critics have argued it’s too soon to start closing prisons, saying the government’s newly enacted tough-on- crime legislation is expected to lead to increases in the prison populations. Toews has rejected that notion.

Critics have also raised concerns about the impact of new federal crime legislation on provinces. They fear provincial jails, where inmates are held before trial, or post- conviction if sentenced to less than 2 years, could face a population spike as a result.

Spokesperson Valerie Savard said the average daily population in Quebec jails remained stable between 2009-10 and 2010-11 at about 4,688, but that an increase ‘was observed’ in 2011-12.

Quebec has been among the most vocal critics of Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill that passed Royal Assent in March.

The province has pegged the cost of new measures contained in the bill at about $600 million and has vowed not to pay for it.

Prison guards in Quebec also have argued that the closure of Leclerc, home to a number of rival gang members and organized crime figures, is a ‘recipe for disaster’.

Source: Postmedia News

Editor’s Note: With the newly elected Parti Quebecois government we can only wait and see what actions Quebec will take and how the Federal Conservatives will respond. 

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