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Canada: MP no longer fighting for for-profit.
By Kim Goggins, The Mirror
Friday, April 21st, 2006

Once a staunch supporter of the privatization of the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene, Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop now says he is not fighting to keep the jail privately operated, but will accept whatever decision the Liberal government makes in May.

"I'm the guy in our caucus that wore the jail and I don't intend to go back into that battle again," he told The Mirror. "If the government decides to keep it private, then I will be fully supportive of the operator and will do whatever I can to help them out. If the government decides to go public, I will work with the public system and do my best."

Dunlop says he never felt supported by the provincial Conservatives when they were in power, regarding the privatization of CNCC, but instead felt he was left "carrying the full load" of the decision.

"... I can't see myself, once again, fighting very very hard to keep it private when I didn't get a lot of support for privatization in the first place, particularly from my party and even from the community, in a lot of ways," he said.

There is just over six months left of the province's current, five-year contract with MTC but, as per contract stipulations, the government must decide, in May 2006 (six months before the contract ends), whether to extend the contract for another year; extend the contract up to five years based on an agreement of financial terms; re-tender the contract; or return the prison to the public service.

MTC will be rated in four key areas: effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and viability into the future, and relevance to the community.

In 1999, the former Conservative government under Mike Harris, decided to privatize one of two new correctional facilities being built - one in Penetanguishene (CNCC), newly-elected Dunlop's riding, and one in Lindsay (Central East Correctional Centre), in the riding of then-cabinet minister Chris Hodgson.

A comparative study recently took place between CECC and CNCC, with the results scheduled for inclusion with the input to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services before a final decision is made.

Dunlop says Simcoe North got the privatized facility because he was the 'newbie' in the party.

"Of course. I'm the new kid on the block and why would (Hodgson) put up with any aggravation when I could handle it all," said Dunlop, who is now Opposition Critic for Community Safety and Correctional Services.

"I think that was fairly clear. I don't think that was any kind of a mystery. No one came up and said that to me, but when privatization was talked about, before the decision was made, I knew if there was a privatized jail, I would get it because I'm the new guy down there. I don't know anybody. That's just the way politics is."

The MPP fought hard to garner support for it, against the opposition of most of the Penetanguishene council of the day and members of the community.

"I guess I do feel, a little bit to this day, a little let down that I didn't get more support for privatization," said Dunlop, who noted that many people supported the idea to him face to face, but would not go public with their support.

"... And I certainly didn't get support from my caucus either. I sort of had to carry the weight of the whole program, politically, on my shoulders.

Publicly or privately operated, Dunlop says it's important to him to maintain the well-paying jobs that help the economy of the area, although he notes local businesses that serve the prison might suffer an economic loss if the jail goes public.

"(A publicly-run prison) would probably have to deal with the central dispatch out of North Bay. So, local businesses would suffer from [not being able to] supply materials to the facility."

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