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The issues of both the legality and the implications of the two-year policy for "lifers" was the subject of critical comment by the Correctional Investigator in his 2000-2001 annual report. He wrote:

If this kind of measure can be adopted in such a hasty and unconsidered fashion over such a discreet aspect of the correctional system, what message does this send:
to the line staff person who has been told, since Arbour, to observe the spirit and letter of the law in his/her every action, even where this is extremely inconvenient?

  • to the inmate who wants to believe that his/her expectations about the basic aspects of custody and release will not be suddenly modified for no apparent reason?
  • to the community representative whose ability to effect solutions in cooperation with the Service must be based on some assureance that the Rule of Law will not be ignored? (Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator, 2000-2001 [Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2001] at 36-38).

The Correctional Investigator concluded that the new policy was "contrary to law, unreasonable, and improperly discriminatory to specified offender groups" (at 38).

In answer to the Commissioner's rationale for maintaining the policy as an appropriate reflection of the seriousness of the offence and the sanction imposed, the Correctional Investigator wrote:

As to the argument that a retributive measure such as this policy is only just and appropriate, I can only say that this argument does not appear to reflect the intentions of Parliament in enacting the CCRA. As well, it just doesn't make sense in the context of a reasonable and coherent approach to corrections (at 39).

The Correctional Investigator concluded his call for the rescinding of the new policy with this caveat from history:

We must not forget that when every material improvement has been effected in prisons, when the temperature has been adjusted, when the proper food to maintain health and strength have been given, when the doctors, chaplains and prison visitors have come and gone, the convict stands deprived of everything that a free man calls life. We must not forget that all these improvements, which are sometimes salves to our consciences, do not change that position." (Winston Churchill, Speech to the House of Commons, 20 July 1910, cited in Annual Report of the Correctional Investigator, 2000-2001 at 39)

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