Monday, May 17, 2010


This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

On May 7, Tony Noakes, fire chief for the territory of Nunavut, reported the dangerous conditions at the Baffin Correctional Centre in Iqaluit to the RCMP as cause for an investigation into possible criminal negligence. Four days later, the Nunavut government fired him. But that didn’t shut Noakes up. Instead, he talked to reporters about the prison, where more than a hundred men are housed in a facility built for 50. A story in the Globe and Mail recounted how Noakes’ inspectors documented “a long list of code violations,” including improper storage of combustibles, blocked exits and light fixtures hanging by wires. A former military man, Noakes compared conditions in Iqaluit prison with those he saw while inspecting Taliban jails in Afghanistan: “If I were a prisoner, I would much rather be there than here.” And where was the government of Nunavut while Noakes was making these damning allegations? Not commenting. Granted, dismissals are always delicate situations for employers, who have to obey privacy obligations. But the government here could and should have spoken up on the nub of the controversy: conditions in the Iqaluit jail and what exactly it was doing to address them. Anything less looks like evasiveness.

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