Canadian musicians banding together for the prison farms

OTTAWA, March 16 /CNW Telbec/ - BBQs, rallies and now concerts. The support for the prison farms remaining open keeps growing and attracting more supporters. Canadian Musicians Support Prison Farms (CMSPF) is the latest event being held to protest the impending prison farm closures by the Federal government.

The concert, featuring Sarah Harmer, Luther Wright, Brian Flynn, Fred Penner and many, many other performers, will take place on Saturday, March 20, at Sydenham Street United Church in Kingston, from 7 to 10 pm.

"The Save our Farms Coalition is pleased that this event has garnered the support of such great Canadian artists," said Andrew McCann, of Urban Agriculture Kingston. "The word keeps going out and the Federal government will have to start listening to the will of the people."

Dianne Dowling, of the National Farmers' Union adds, "The general public can see the value in the program. We can't understand why the Government steadfastly refuses to acknowledge they've made a mistake with this decision (prison farm closure)."

The media revealed a year ago that the government planned to close Canada's six prison farms by March 31, 2011. Two of the farms are located in Kingston: Frontenac Institution and Pittsburgh Institution. The main arguments put forward by the government to justify the closures were the annual maintenance cost of $4 million and the apparent lack of relevant skills taught to the inmate participants.

"We have asked many, many times for the Federal government to provide us with the accounting showing this cost. We've shown the government how the skills learned on the prison farms are indeed relevant to today's job market," continued Mr. Edmunds. "They just refuse to accept that this is one bad decision, one that will affect not only the inmates, but whole communities who work with those programs."

"During election years, Prime Minister Harper has gone out telling farmers that their work is the backbone of our country. We would ask that Prime Minister Harper show that same respect to the programs at the prison farms and reverse this hasty and ill-informed decision made by his Cabinet."

Tickets for the concert are $15 ($5 for unemployed and underemployed people) and are available at Tara Foods, Renaissance Music, Brian's Record Option and Local Family Farms in Verona. A limited number will be sold at the door.


For further information: For further information: Dominique Vidmar, Union of Solicitor General Employees, (613) 668-0267; Andrew McCann, Urban Agriculture Kingston, (613) 767-4127

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