Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stelmach Needs To Take A Long Walk Off A Short Pier

What is it with Alberta's governments and their incessant idiotic approach to anything resembling human rights issues?

The most recent outrage comes in the form of collecting and analyzing all prisoner communications.

Superficially, one might think "what's so bad about that?", after all they're in prison which means they are convicted of something, right?

The proposed changes to Alberta's Corrections Act broaden what provincial prisons can monitor, allowing for any technology inmates might access in the future, such as video or computer communications. Databases will be created, and, given "reasonable grounds," prison directors can search what inmates have said or written.

Well - there's a bit of a problem here. Someone being held in a remand facility is not necessarily convicted of anything - they may be facing serious charges, but they have not yet been convicted of them. Last I checked, this violates the fundamental principle of our justice system - the presumption of innocence.

Second, it arguably violates a key tenet of Canada's Charter of Rights:

8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Please note the lack of exclusions in S. 8 and the surrounding areas regarding someone who has been incarcerated, so presumably S8. applies just as much behind bars as it does on the outside. Around the clock surveillance and recording of all communications arguably constitutes an unreasonable search.

I just love how the bureaucrats are going to invent their own rules for "reasonable grounds" to use this accumulated information. This isn't going to be written in law - it's going to be at the whim of politicians and bureaucrats. I just can't imagine how that could go wrong, can you?

But, this isn't just about what can happen to you behind bars. It's about what the Conservatives from Alberta actually understand about human and civil rights. To them, it's all conditional. Are you conforming to their ideal little worldview? If not, then you don't deserve to have any rights, and they think they can arbitrarily revoke your rights at their whim.

Alberta's doing it, and make no mistake about it, Harper would do the same and worse if ever granted a majority.

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