Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

PM blasts guards' actions in Smith case

  • Print

TORONTO -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly criticized correctional authorities on Thursday for their handling of a disturbed teenager who choked to death in her cell five years ago, prompting opposition accusations of federal government dishonesty.

The issue reached the House of Commons following the screening of disturbing jailhouse video at an inquest into the death of Ashley Smith this week that shows guards duct-taping her and drugging her against her will.

"The Ashley Smith case is obviously a terrible tragedy," Harper said.

However, information has come to light that shows Corrections Canada's behaviour was "completely unacceptable," he told the House of Commons.

Outside the Commons, Liberal Leader Bob Rae accused the Conservative government of being "dishonest."

"This is a government that wanted to stop the showing of those videos," Rae said. "This is a government that, every step of the way, attempted to keep Canadians from seeing what went on."

While federal lawyers lost a court battle to keep the videos under wraps, they are still fighting to limit the scope of the inquest, which would block scrutiny of what happened to Smith in prisons outside Ontario.

Harper said he would let "arguments between lawyers" play out without interference.

Smith choked to death as guards looked on in October 2007 at a prison in Kitchener, Ont. She had spent the past year of her life in segregation, shunted among prisons in five provinces.

Also Thursday, Smith's family released documents their lawyer said showed a "shoddy" criminal investigation into how prison authorities in Quebec had treated Smith.

"When Ashley was alive, the system turned a blind eye to her and ultimately, she was abused right into death," lawyer Julian Falconer said.

"In the wake of her death, what you see is the family crying out for authorities to step in and investigate what on its face are different forms of torture, and the answer we get back is the same blind eye."

The probe followed a plea by her family to the RCMP that Smith had been restrained and given anti-psychotic and other drugs against her will without legal or medical justification.

The RCMP, claiming it had no jurisdiction, passed the complaint to Quebec provincial police, who investigated three incidents in July 2007 at the federally run Joliette prison in Montreal.

Prison authorities gave the investigating officer access to Smith's administrative file and surveillance videos, but not to her medical file, according to the documents made available by the family.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2012 A22

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - Take It Easy

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A squirrel enjoys the morning sunshine next to the duck pond in Assiniboine Park Wednesday– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Carolyn Kavanagh(10) had this large dragonfly land on her while spending time at Winnetka Lake, Ontario. photo by Andrea Kavanagh (mom0 show us your summer winnipeg free press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Winnipeg control growth to deal with climate change?

View Results

Ads by Google