Monday, August 29, 2011

Apparently Brad Wall has been replaced by some guy in Winnipeg

Between 2007 and 2010, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections and Public Safety spent the princely sum of $1,616.97 (or less than $404.25 per year) to buy some video games for the recreational use of young offenders in custody.

It's not like the young offenders were sitting around playing video games 24/7, mind. Use of the games was a privilege earned through good behaviour and attention to educational / vocational programs. And the video games were screened for appropriate content.

Of course, the fact that imprisoned young offenders might actually have any leisure time at all offends the hard right "lock 'em up and throw away the key" crowd, whose insight into corrections policy is consistently and mind-numbingly counterproductive. The fact that these kids (and whatever they've done, they are still kids) might be allowed to play the odd video game was just too much.

So the regional pooh-bah of a hard right pressure group, Colin Craig of the so-called Canadian Taxpayers Federation, made a phone call to the Government of Saskatchewan. By the end of the afternoon, government policy had been changed and public funds will no longer be used to buy video games for youth correctional facilities.

Whether or not giving limited use of video games as a removable privilege is or is not good corrections policy is, perhaps, a legitimate discussion point. So far, for what it's worth, the only person with any actual expertise on the subject has defended the purchase of the games.

But here's the bigger issue for me.

Who the heck voted for Colin Craig?

And why does the Saskatchewan Government take orders from some far right activist in another province?

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, despite its grandiose sounding name, is not a federation of Canadian taxpayers. It is a far right pressure group with secretive funding and no public or member accountability. Anyone can join the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, but unlike a real public group, its policies are set and its leadership are chosen by a small, self-selecting and self-perpetuating elite. You and I can join the CTF, but we can't have any say in who runs it or how, or in what policy positions it may take.

In otherwords, it is a Potemkin Village for the far right, much like the American Tea Party but with less showmanship and better dress sense.

In case you have no idea what the real Premier of Saskatchewan looks like, here's a picture:

His CTF bio indicates that he is from Winnipeg and attended the University of Manitoba. He's worked as a political operative in the offices of Conservative ministers in Manitoba and Ontario. There is no evidence he has ever lived in Saskatchewan. (There's actually no evidence he has ever been to Saskatchewan, for that matter, but I would expect he's been here for the odd meeting with his minions at the Saskatchewan Legislature.) Circumstantial evidence suggests he cheers for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

And nobody in Saskatchewan has voted to have him to decide government policy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He also seems to be one of those radicals that can chant a motto but can't come up with realistic, reasonable proposals.

Only $33 a month spread among all the youth correctional facilities in Saskatchewan is this heinous, excessive expensive expense that only some dude in Winnipeg can save us from? Perhaps he is not familiar with the phrase "Penny wise and pound foolish."

On the CTF website he complains most extravagantly about Rock Band and how "it undoubtedly must have come with the plastic drum set and guitar." Perhaps he believes that when the province purchases vehicles that it should request ones without the ridiculous expense of a steering wheel. It makes as much sense. Or maybe something cheap, non-constructive, and packed with blood&guts would be prefferable.

He also complains of the travesty that the youth get to use 5 year old systems like the Xbox 360 instead of his preferred 33 year old Atari 2600 or the original Nintendo. In some bizarro world where the Sask Party listened to their Winnipeg boss about that, he'd be back in a few months complaining that his beloved systems never got used and that all the money spent was wasted.

If the goal is to improve programming, have positive impact on youth, and reduce criminality and re-offending, thus reducing long-term cost to society and government, then his argument is ridiculous. But if the long-term goal is to increase crime rates, increase money spent on incarceration, and then yell for the too-expensive government prison system to be privatized to the benefit of your buddies down south...