The closing of the Dauphin jail and the possibilty of building a healing lodge and centre for restorative justice in Dauphin.
On Thursday March 5th, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on a resolution which deals with the closure of the Dauphin jail and the possibility of building a healing lodge and centre for restorative justice in Dauphin. My comments, from Hansard, are below:
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam–Mr. Speaker, this resolution brought forward this morning suggests moving in a direction of a better way for correctional facilities in the way of using a healing lodge to address crime, to improve rehabilitation, to improve recidivism and to improve access to restorative justice.
I thank the member for bringing this forward. This is a concept which needs to be explored. It's to be noted that we stand here because of a drastic failure of this government to consult before bringing in their traditional axe.
The Pallister government, is bringing in their axe. It has fallen again, this time on the people of Dauphin. Not many months ago it was falling on people who were farming on Crown lands in the Crane River area and other areas of Manitoba. And the Pallister government's axe has fallen on many others over the last several years.
It is too bad that the Pallister government brings in the axe without even thinking about what the forward plan is. It is too bad that this was done without consultation, without discussions with people in Dauphin. I would say that the concept of a new approach to correctional institutions–that the NDP had a chance to bring this in for 17 years, and did not. The concept is now coming forward. It's coming forward at a time when the Minister of Justice (Mr. Cullen) himself says that there's a dramatic rise in the number of people who are being helped with restorative justice approaches. And at the time of such a dramatic rise in the number of people using and benefitting from restorative justice approaches, it is worthwhile considering this sort of a facility.
It is to be noted that healing lodges and restorative justice and traditional approaches to justice are being explored in a number of other venues. It is interesting that they have been mentioned in reports going back for 20, 30, and maybe even 40 years, but their movement has only really been going recently. I was in Nelson House not long ago and they are talking about more effective traditional approaches to justice. I think we need to listen and consider these seriously.
New approaches to justice, I believe, also need to better understand the nature of some of the underlying causes. The contribution of learning disabilities and FASD need to be recognized. They are starting to be recognized with FASD and mental health courts but we need to do more, and this would potentially be an opportunity to do that.
The effectiveness of this sort of approach needs to be looked at in more depth and the possibility of a facility in Dauphin should be explored further.
I note with interest that about 15 years ago, a Mr. Sam McGillivray, who was taken up as he was walking along a road in his home community of Opaskwayak Cree Nation. He was picked up as part of the '60s scoop as he was walking along the road, and he was taken to a farm not far from Dauphin where he and other lost boys, as they've been called, were abused, and he has called, about 15 years ago, for such a healing lodge to be put in place in the Dauphin area in recognition of some of the past tragedies that have occurred.
So I think this is something which can and should be explored. There is background for this. There is a rationale. It is too bad that the current government has moved in so quickly with their axe without really exploring all the options, and I want to speak and say my condolences to the people in the city of Dauphin that they have been treated in this way.
I will now stop so that there is time for a vote on this resolution. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.