• 06/17/15 - - Ignore reporter's phone calls: CSC official

    - - Ignore reporter's phone calls: CSC official

    Veronica Park dies while in custody at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro

    By Brett Ruskin, CBC News


    Representatives with the Correctional Service of Canada coordinated to ignore questions and suppress media coverage following the death of an inmate at a Nova Scotia prison, internal documents obtained by CBC News show.

    Veronica Park, a 38-year-old woman from Corner Brook, N.L., died April 24 while serving a three-year sentence at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro.


    In the days leading to her death, her family said Park complained of respiratory problems to prison staff.

    Park's brother, Gordon Park, told CBC News the family has been frustrated with the CSC, which has not shared many details about Park's death. They were told in order to learn the cause of her death, Park's family may have to file an access to information request.

    CBC News also asked for details about the Park's death. When those questions weren't answered, CBC filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to learn why.


    "Any comment will serve to protract the media interest," said one email sent May 1 between two CSC media officials.

    "I don't know why he [Brett Ruskin] would want an on-camera interview," wrote Etienne Chiasson, the CSC's Atlantic region media spokesperson, in an email the Monday following Park's death.

    Chiasson later instructed a local representative to ignore media requests.


    "One advice: if your phone rings and you suspect it's a reporter, you don't have to answer," he wrote.

    "It is the weekend, and this is in no way an urgent matter. For them maybe, but not for us. Take the weekend off ;-)."


    This statement was in response to the CBC's renewed calls for the CSC to share Park's cause of death with her family.

    The CBC's access to information request garnered 79 pages of internal emails, with redacted sections on nearly every page.

    In an unrelated matter, during the period that these emails were being written and shared, the CSC issued a public tender seeking a company to train its representatives on how to deal with the media.




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