When Michael Ferguson comes knocking, you’d better be ready. The auditor general, ever critical of federal programs that misspend even a cent from our collective piggy bank, spares nobody in his march toward efficient government. Today, Ferguson’s team released its spring report.
The opposition loves today. When attacks on the government during Question Period inevitably grow stale, lo, the auditor general dumps fresh material into their laps. All this haranguing of late over the Fair Elections Act and temporary foreign workers has had parliamentarians riled up for weeks, but expect the opposition to forget about those go-to files of early 2014 for just a few minutes. There’s inefficient government to criticize, and with glee!
The AG’s report took a look at First Nations policing, federal correctional institutions, public sector pension plans, government relocation services, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, and the quality of data provided by Statistics Canada. Which of those files would a Conservative not want to make angry headlines? Tories have staked much of their energy over the past eight years to a law-and-order agenda, so I’d wager they’d avoid bad news in prisons by any means necessary.
To their dismay, Ferguson had some concerns. Chapter 4 of today’s report, which shines some light on Canada’s penitentiaries, found that prison overcrowding plagues some of Canada’s regions—and the chapter includes these two sentences:
- “We found that [facility] expansions were not proportionate to the expected regional increases in offender populations.”
- “We also found that double bunking was occurring in segregation cells and in cells smaller than 5 square meters, which is contrary to the intent of CSC policy.”
Expect the opposition to talk a lot about overcrowding, and a lot about the Tories’ obsession with stuffing as many criminals as possible behind bars without a plan and won’t they admit that they’ve failed already?
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney’s response is predictable. His department agreed with all of the AG’s recommendations, so he’ll reiterate that cooperation. His department is expanding its facilities to accommodate the growing number of offenders, so he’ll reiterate that plan. He’ll finish with a rhetorical flourish, declaring that Conservatives, and only Conservatives, care about keeping Canadians safe—and what’s wrong with the opposition?
The one guy who will escape the bickering is Ferguson, a man whose authority few parliamentarians will challenge.
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