Prime Time Crime


(Letter to Prime Time Crime Dec. 1, 2004)

Ms Josephine Cassie


Ottawa Parole Office

Citizens Advisory Committee

Dear Ms Cassie,

I just read in the November 26 edition of the Centretown News that despite the unanimous opinion of local community leaders to have the Parole Office moved to a more suitable location that Corrections Canada believes the Office will stay. A Ms Pilon-Santilli is quoted that Corrections Canada is "not closing the parole office or moving the parole office anywhere at this time". You are also quoted as saying "we are actively working with the community to see what is disturbing them".

The community, including the Honourable Ed Broadbent, Councillor Diane Holmes, School Board Trustee Joan Spice, the Jack Purcell Recreation Association, the Elgin Street School Council, and the Centretown Citizens Community Association has been very clear that the location of the Parole Office in the middle of a residential neighbourhood and opposite an elementary school is inappropriate.  Furthermore, the secrecy and the lack of consultation by Corrections Canada in trying to open the Parole Office is ample reason to remove such an incompetent body from our neighbourhood. If Corrections Canada can't even open an office in accordance with proper procedures and common sense, how can we trust them to protect the interests of the community and our children.  

Albert Galpin

Ottawa, On. Canada

K2P 0X2

Letter from Ottawa Mayor Chiarelli  .pdf

Letter from Police Association President Charles Momy .pdf

Opposition ignored: parole office to stay

By Chris Clarke

Centertown News

Nov. 26, 2004

Opponents of a controversial parole office opened across from a public school will continue their battle in the wake of a Corrections Canada decision not to relocate.

“We will continue to work with the community,” said Michele Pilon-Santilli, Corrections Canada spokeswoman. “But we are not closing the parole office or moving the parole office anywhere at this time.”

Action groups such as Residents Against Government Encroachment (RAGE) are digging in their heels for a long battle. Residents expect the fight to remain a stalemate until the issue becomes too politically uncomfortable for politicians with decision-making power to ignore. RAGE hopes to accomplish this through persistent letter-writing and petitions.

“Eventually it will be in Corrections Canada’s best (political) interest to move,” says Shelley Hartman, RAGE founder. “It will be in Anne McLellan’s best (political) interest to move.”

While community groups focus on heating up the topic, Ottawa Centre MP Ed Broadbent and Somerset Ward Coun. Diane Holmes continue their letter campaigns to Scott Brison, public works minister.

They are targeting Brison because Public Works leases all of their office space in Ottawa. Some see the responsibility for the office relocation as a failure of this ministry. Hartman claims the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of Corrections Canada, who, she says, was offered four different locations in the Centretown area.

No one is expecting a quick solution to the controversy.

Jo Cassie, chair of the Parole Office Citizen’s Advisory Committee, says the committee is working towards understanding why the community sees the parole office as such a risk where Corrections Canada does not. A 2002 study published by Corrections Canada states that 94 per cent of convicts never commit a violent crime while on parole.

The committee, she says, is figuring out how to best handle the parole office issue.

“We are actively working with the community to see what is disturbing them,” says Cassie.

Cassie adds that tackling the issue may not necessarily lead to the closure of either building.

“It doesn’t matter if there is an actual threat, it’s a perceived threat,” says Hartman. She adds Ottawa isn’t an isolated case. She says Hamilton city council has been fighting a similar situation with a parole office there for five years with no luck.

Alice Littlejohn first alerted other residents to the parole office. She calls the decision to place the parole board in front of the school a “slap in the face” to Centretown parents. Some parents are so outraged they have threatened to move their children to other schools, she claims.

This may not bode well for Elgin Public which has been earmarked by the district school board for closure in the past due to low enrolment. The low numbers have embroiled the community in fights to keep the school open. She believes it may become a choice between which building will remain open.

“Either the parole office or the school will close,” she says.

Corrections Canada argues that offenders have been living in Centretown for years without incident at the five local halfway houses. And they continue to meet at the Jack Purcell Community Centre for drug and alcoholics anonymous programs, located directly behind the school. Furthermore, the majority of the 250 parolees meet at their homes while sexual offenders, especially ones restricted access to schools, have not been assigned to the office.

Hartman wonders why council never created similar legislation to that in Toronto, which prohibits from concentrating halfway houses in one or two neighbourhoods. Toronto halfway houses are distributed equally throughout the city.

The Minister responsible for Corrections Canada is Anne McLellen at

Correct Corrections Canada

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