Coming to Canada: Prison industrial complex, punishment and profits
Last summer Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives demonstrated their tough stance on foreigners suspected of war crimes abroad. The suspects were rounded up, detained and deported. The sweep was the beginning of a crackdown on immigrants that also deliberately links immigration and criminality. It laid the foundation for a future powerful private prison industry in Canada.
A few weeks ago, Harper and his Conservative majority government passed a universally-condemned, ideologically-driven new crime law, deceptively christened “Safe Streets and Communities Act”. Harper used his acquiescing majorities in the House of Commons and Senator to pass the bill without any substantial debate. Indeed, the GEO Group, a major player in the private correctional services in the US, UK, Australia and South Africa, lobbied for the new law. In the video below, Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines travels to Texas and Florida to investigate the business of immigration detention in the US and to find out how a handful of companies have managed to shape US immigration laws.
The GEO Group has profited from 9/11, the economic meltdown and recent anti-immigrant crackdowns. It has profited from privatized corrections and detention operations in Australia, UK and South Africa, where it is also connected with the African country’s unveiling massive prison privatization efforts. In Glasgow, Scotland, the company is involved in an Immigration Removal Center. In the late 1990s, GEO was involved with Australia’s notorious Woomera Immigration Detention Center, once described by UN officials as a “great human tragedy” and likened to a “Nazi concentration camp”.
Harper is determined to shake up Canadian society and impose an oppressive petro-state and vindictive rightwing worldview. The backward-looking law will create a prison industrial complex in Canada. It will introduce the so-called “war on drugs”, which has devastated the US and Mexico.
I’m an Ottawa-based Occupy activist. Today is day 30 of my indefinite hunger strike against Harper’s new law. My YouTube video has more details about the hunger strike. I’ve also written to every Canadian MP and Senator to convey my demands. I published this letter on my personal blog, www.canadianprogressiveworld.com, which I also update with journal entries and relevant information.
I need your support to send Harper and his rightwing legislators this strong message: the Safe Streets and Communities Act has no place in Canada. Together, we can do it! Please watch the video. Share it as widely as possible. Via your Facebook Profiles, Pages and Groups. Through Twitter. Post the video to your blog. Share it with your blogging and activist friends. Journalists too. And ask your friends to share it with their contacts. For email shares, the link is: http://youtu.be/V-mcaeD16ro. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I urge you all to resist Harper’s Safe Streets and Communities Act and other repressive laws on the Conservatives legislative agenda. We must resist them by any peaceful and democratic means necessary. Now is the time to build a society that nurtures hope instead of extinguishing it. It’s a moment to remind ourselves that an injustice visited upon a single Canadian or community is an injustice visited upon all of us. We must insist on united and caring Canada that encourage all to set aside differences and prescribed labels.
We must bar the gates before the prison industrial complex beast reaches our shores.