Chapter 9: Last Words: Do the Right Thing

Ferndale has been a place of excellence, and I include Elbow Lake because it is turning into a place of excellence in Aboriginal programming. Elbow Lake is going into a redevelopment phase very shortly; it will be rebuilt along an Aboriginal design. It's exciting, and I would have liked to have been part of that. Dianne Brown is taking over for me. I met her, and I think she is the right person: she has the right values, management skill and very good people skills. She is looking forward to coming there. I told her it's probably the best job in Canadian corrections. It was the best job I ever had, and it is sad for me to have to walk away from it, but you've got to let it go. I only hope that we will not lose a number of the gains we have made over the years, doing this kind of work and doing it well.

In summing up my career, I feel satisfaction in the number of successes and my ability to change the correctional agenda - not just at the Ferndale site but across Canada. I have had the opportunity to demonstrate what works and what doesn't work. I took a bit of risk in actually implementing things that I believed would make the criminal justice system better, and the satisfaction seeing a number of these things in fact work.

I was able to offer some leadership in areas such as restorative justice and several policies and procedures for managing our facilities.

To have had some influence is the greatest satisfaction, and to be recognized for it is even better. That has happened more than I have probably warranted. I have had tremendous support and recognition from my colleagues. That they showed willingness to create awards and honours in my name to reflect excellence in corrections tells me that I worked in an organization that accepts and recognizes people who showed initiative, even if I put them at risk on occasion and embarrassed them the odd time. But they had the courage to stand up and say "No," and to do the right thing.

I keep telling my staff this: We'll do the right thing, not just do what is right. If you simply do things right, you can get misled by detail and trivia that doesn't have any value or impact. We need to focus on asking "What is the right thing?" in the course of our decision-making. And that is the principle that has guided me, the principle by which I have always tried to operate, and it has served us well. I am still convinced that the corrections system, if it maintains the same course, will continue to be successful.

Postface

Two weeks after he recorded these final observations, Ron Wiebe died on July 28, 1999. At the memorial service for Ron on August 2, Commissioner Ole Ingstrup spoke for the whole Correctional Service when he said, "Ron Wiebe had the moral and professional capacity to lead. His passing is an enormous loss."