29 July 2018
Prison Farms Under Fire: Protest, Petition, Conflict of Interest
Opposition grows as Canada’s prison farms will be milked for Chinese baby formula
KINGSTON, ONTARIO – The return of prison farms in Kingston, Ontario, is being met with adamant opposition by justice advocates raising the alarm over the use of this rehabilitation program to produce milk for China.
While members of the prison dairy advocacy group Save Our Prison Farms are celebrating a “small, imperfect victory” in the return of the prison farms, which will include up to 1,500 goats and 60 cows, there is pervasive dissatisfaction as the milk will be sold to the Feihe International infant formula factory, where it will be processed into powder and exported to China.
Since 2016, Evolve Our Prison Farms has advocated a voluntary agricultural program that would produce healthful plant-based foods for prisoner consumption, provide training in green farming technologies and techniques, and offer animal-assisted therapy through a sanctuary model of care.
There has been no discussion at the governmental or correctional level as to the ethics of using prison labour to serve foreign economic interests.
Evolve Our Prison Farms is launching full-scale opposition to this exploitative plan.
A formal complaint has been submitted to Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion, requesting an investigation into the structure, process, and actions of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and the Prison Farm Advisory Panel. The panel was composed exclusively of leaders and supporters of Save Our Prison Farms, who are simultaneously shareholders in the Pen Herd Co-Operative lobbying to sell their cows to the government for the prison farm program, in contravention of multiple Conflict of Interest Act rules.
An e-petition has been launched, sponsored by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, calling on the Canadian government to “overturn the decision to establish prison dairy operations; establish prison farms that prioritize ecological sensitivity and climate change solutions; and prevent use of animals in rehabilitation programs except under sanctuary or animal therapy models.”
Prisoners at Joyceville Institution, where the dairy operations will be established, voiced overwhelming opposition to the prison dairy plan in a 2018 survey. Prisoners are being encouraged to boycott the prison farm program until it is a program that does not exploit anybody.
Hundreds of prisoners at other institutions in Canada are joining the resistance by participating in a mass postcard campaign to Minister Ralph Goodale. Over 8000 postcards have been disseminated to prisoners and citizen supporters across the country.
A peaceful protest is being planned on Prisoners’ Justice Day, August 10th at 5:00 PM, outside Collins Bay Institution in Kingston. Prisoners’ Justice Day is a time for inmates “to remember those who have died unnatural deaths in Canadian prisons” and “to honour those who have fought for prisoners’ rights and continue to do so today.”
All are welcome to join this protest in defence of prisoner justice, democracy, food security, the environment, and the thousands of animals who will be exploited and killed by the system – for China – in the name of rehabilitation.
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Protest Prison Dairy for China: https://www.facebook.com/events/508198769615800/
Prison Farms Petition: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1774
Conflict of Interest Report: http://evolveourprisonfarms.ca/prison-farms-conflict-of-interest/
Prisoner Perspectives: http://evolveourprisonfarms.ca/prisoner/