Four months after he first raised the issue in Question Period, Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark welcomed a signal the province is ready to press fast forward on installing video technology at the Brockville Court House.
“I’m pleased the government finally recognizes the ability to hold remand hearings by video is important for the safety and security of our police officers and everyone working at the court house,” said Steve, who praised Brockville Police Chief Scott Fraser for being a strong voice in pushing the government to act.
Steve said that he was encouraged by a March 26 letter to Chief Fraser, in which Attorney General, Yasir Naqvi, wrote: “I have asked ministry officials to ensure the completion of a review of the technological and structural requirements for the purchase and installation of a video suite at the Brockville courthouse, which is separate and apart from our current provincial review project.”
Brockville remains one of the only courthouses in Eastern Ontario without video technology, and MPP Clark said he’s pleased the ministry has separated the local review from an ongoing province-wide study.
“It’s good news our situation now has their full attention. However, the review must happen quickly so we can get the video remand system up and running without further delay,” he stressed. “The injuries suffered by an officer during a prisoner transfer earlier this month showed the health and safety concerns I have been raising with the Attorney General on behalf of Chief Fraser are real.”
Steve first pressed Minister Naqvi to install the cameras last November, so prisoners could make brief appearances for remand hearings by video. This would eliminate the need for officers to transfer prisoners around the outside of the building to a holding cell, until they can be called into the courtroom.
The MPP raised the issue in the legislature again last month, taking the government to task for ignoring Brockville’s needs while announcing $7 million for upgrades to existing video technology at a court house in the Attorney General’s riding.