Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Steven Truscott

It's difficult to know what to say about today's decision, except that I am thrilled for him, and his family.

Who among us can imagine what life, (the past 48 years at least), must have been like for this soft spoken man? I mention that he is soft spoken because it has always struck me as remarkable, that he never seemed to harbour anger. He always appeared focused on seeing justice done. I understand that he never really thought that it would happen in his lifetime, having completely lost faith in the Justice system.

While this may seem to be a case relevant only to the past, I think it raises many questions about our contemporary Justice system as well. We are less inclined in 2007 to simply take the word of those in the "system" as being gospel. That is a good thing. We see that playing out now concerning the Surete at Montebello. Do we question enough? No, I don't think so. This government and all governments must be held to account and in my opinion, they are not. Inquiries such as the one going on re' Air India are often necessary and reveal much. They should not be resisted so often.

It brings the death penalty into focus again, something that I know many on the right still want. That will never happen of course and thank goodness most of us have evolved beyond that, unlike our neighbours to the south.

It also raises the issue that the person who actually murdered Lynne Harper, will never be found. Surely that is something that must be looked at. Not in this case of course, all the evidence has been destroyed. I feel very badly for that family. After all these years, no answers.

Our system, as it is set up, necessitated that the Crown argue against this outcome for Truscott. As flawed as that may appear to be, it's the system we have and I far prefer that to allowing the Attorney General to proclaim on such issues unilaterally.

This case is filled with relevance to the present day. My hope is that we will not forget that and that we will move forward with the intention of changing that.

23 comments:

Johnny said...

KNB I'm on the right,I for one don't want the death penalty.
Not because some of these criminals don't deserve it its because we live in a justice system that is not perfect. We are considered innocent until
proven guilty. Human beings are not perfect.
Now unless we could find a better justice system
then i don't think we should have a death penalty,because the risk
is too high for a innocent person to fall threw the cracks. It doesn't mean that we can't make it better and increase penalties for certain crimes.

I never heard of this person until i read the link on your article. I'm
happy for him and i hope
he gets a great compensation from the government? I really feel
sorry for the victims family. I just hope who every is guilty he/she or they if still alive
suffers. What do you think KNB?

Bowler said...

The Court of Appeal got it right and ended this miscarriage of justice at long last.

Amazing that not so long ago, 1959, in Canada a 14 year old was sentenced to die by hanging. Barbaric.

I agree that we definitely don't want to go back down that road. Not just because of the Milgaards, Marshalls and Truscotts that we are all familiar with. But because two wrongs don't make a right. The state should not be in the business of vengeance.

Also, I thought one of the aggravating factors in this case was that it turns out there was a serial sex killer living on the military base in nearby Clinton at the same time as the murder?

Johnny said...

Bowler(8:01 PM):

"The state should not be in the business of vengeance." In a sense
bowler the state is in the business of vengeance to a certain extent example:

If a person commits
a murder and found guilty
by a court of law he/she
would be going to prison.
This would be considered
vengeance by some. Now I'm not saying its the same has an eye for an eye no of course not.

knb said...

John, I never want anyone to suffer, so to speak, even the guilty. That makes no sense to me.

It means to me that you say how he/she made someone else suffer is wrong, but we will make you suffer and that is right.

Should that person be punished, of course. Should Holmolka be living among you in Quebec...no. She killed her sister, her sister for heaven's sake and others. Our system is somewhat in need of repair.

The thing is, we cannot knee jerk react.

I don't know if you like to read, but this book is compelling:

Until You are Dead: Steven Truscott's Long Ride into History
Author: Julian Sher

It's an honest account and he's a good author. It will be in your local library. I push it, because I think every Canadian should know this story.

A fictional look at the case, "The Way the Crow Flies" Ann-Marie MacDonald. Brilliant, in my opinion.

John, I know you were born long after this, but it's still recent history. The more we know, the more we can change. That is why I offer these books to you. I am sure they are in your local library. I hope you seek them out.

Bowler said...

If a person commits
a murder and found guilty
by a court of law he/she
would be going to prison.
This would be considered
vengeance by some. Now I'm not saying its the same has an eye for an eye no of course not.


In theory at least, imprisonment is punishment of the offender and deterrence . Not vengeance. I remember Bob Novak once saying "Yes, the death penalty is about vengeance. We are entitled to revenge against these people. Why not?" Now, Novak is admittedly hard core, but nonetheless I believe the sentiment is a popular one in some quarters and that is one of the reasons why the death penalty is still available in so many U.S. states.

knb said...

Precisely bowler...and he wasn't persued and the evidence of him was destroyed.

Horrible, but reality at the time. We trusted the "system". No more.

The need to be right and be done with it, is insane, more so today.

This landmark decision, I hope, changes things.

Johnny said...

KNB:
"John, I never want anyone to suffer, so to speak, even the guilty. That makes no sense to me."

Sorry this is where I disagree with you I don't mean torture no
of course not. But i also
don't think we should treat them with white gloves. I'll give you an example why do we have pool tables in our prisons,tv's also to me this is stupid. People
should be afraid of prisons. The way to do this is to take away all the goodies they have now
it cost us tax payer $$$.
Your going to tell me if we do this there will be trouble in these prisons
and the guards would have their hands full. Fine then we keep them locked-up 24/7 if they cause trouble. They go on a hunger strike i don't care let them go. If they want to eat they eat if they don't then they don't. Why should we care
if child predators rapist
murders etc etc...etc...etc...suffers these things are the scum of thee earth.

knb said...

Well, the "why not" of Novak's comment are self evident, indeed.

Pardon me for being so mean, but I cannot wait for these sorts, the Novaks, to just be gone. Surely there will come a time when all of the vile will die off. I want to be around to see it.

The gays in the closet, congressmen, (how many now?), that are being revealed in that party. Who spews more hate than them? Against themselves no less.

That's a post for tomorrow and an interesting, but different conversation.

We live in interesting times. We live in important times too. My hope is that we recognise it.

I'm not convinced we will.

knb said...

John, to treat a human being in that manner, solves nothing.

Yes, they are horrible people, but how can you feel good about treating them the way they treated their victims? Aren't you just as horrible? Don't you reduce the value of life the same way they did?

I've experienced this in my life and of course, I wanted the guy punished. I didn't want him to experience what he put me through. What would that accomplish?

Punishment, yes, retribution, no.

Anonymous said...

You have to wonder if any more girls/women were murdered then that could have been prevented - because they stopped the investigations with Truscott. IF they had done their job properly and kept on investigating would the real criminal have been caught and/or would Lynne Harper's family had some sort of closure.

Proof "beyond a shadow of a doubt" is for a reason - and if there is a shadow all the more reason for not having the death penalty.

Johnny said...

KNB:
"Yes,they are horrible people,but how can you feel good about treating them the way they treated their victims?"

It would not be
treating them has they
did their victims. Why
should we give them
conjugal visit, weight-lifting,television
and to top it off the right to vote!! I know
the Liberal government a
few years back tried to
take that right away i was all for it. The courts decided that it was unconstitutional fine
if there is a political
will they can amend the
constitution barring prisoners the right to vote,but thats not going
to happen. Thank God that
we started to ban smoking
in prison Quebec has just started. I realize that
other province have already started.

You said:
"Aren't you just as horrible? Don't you reduce the value of life the same way they did?" Sorry KNB I don't think so. These people
are the scum of the earth
why do we have to respect them?

Just look at these
criminals 90% or higher
are repeat offenders! Do
they learn their lesson
i guess not. So why respect them?

knb said...

So why respect them?

Because, that is what separates us from them.

Johnny said...

KNB:

"Because, that is what separates us from them." Its exactly what
these criminals feed on
our respect and kindness.
They play us as fools sorry to say.

Gayle said...

knb - thanks for a thoughtful post.

One thing that I think should be noted is that if the Charter had existed at the time this originally went to trial, things may have been different. That is because the time the coroner estimated Harper actually died was key to the prosecution's case, yet it turned out the coroner actually originally estimated she died a day later, while Truscott was at school. Under the Charter BOTH opinions would have been disclosed to the defence, and the defence could have raised a doubt as to the time of death, and therefore win an acquittal. As we did not have the Charter, only one opinion was disclosed to the defence.

Interestingly, when Guy Paul Moran was wrongly convicted of sexual assault and murder in the late 80's, the police actually influenced some of the key witnesses to change their evidence regarding the time they last saw the victim - again this evidence was key and led to a wrongful conviction. The police admitted using these tactics during the enquiry into the wrongful conviction.

I have read "As the Crow Flies" - great book.

Finally, I want to comment on this:

"Should Holmolka be living among you in Quebec...no. She killed her sister, her sister for heaven's sake and others. Our system is somewhat in need of repair."

You cannot blame the system for the fact Homolka only served 10 years. You can blame shoddy police work that failed to discover the video-tapes. Without the tapes the prosecution had to make a deal with her in order to ensure Bernardo's conviction, and there was no evidence of her participation until the videos came to light - long after her plea bargain had been struck.

Once again, thanks for an interesting post.

knb said...

Thanks Gayle. Great point about the Charter. I've been fascinated by this case for years and when that evidence came forward, stomach contents, etc., it was an incredible moment.

I wish MacDonald would write more, but from what I've heard her say, "As the Crow Flies" took quite a toll, plus, she's quite busy promoting her many interests.

Re' Holmolka, bang on. It ties quite nicely really, to the Truscott case. The reluctance on our part to think that police can err. Recent RCMP scandals are surely showing the fallacy of that thinking.

The right is happier to point to laws being ineffective. Sometimes they are and that is why we change them, but often times, the law enforcers have not done their work.

None of this is about blame, it's about fixing the system in a meaningful way, not in the simplistic manner the right would like to see.

Thanks again for your comment.

Johnny said...

Welcome back Gayle:

"You cannot blame the system for the fact Homolka only served 10 years. You can blame shoddy police work that failed to discover the video-tapes."

Yes Gayle we can
blame the system,because
the police is part of the
system we live in. This
is my whole point.

I'll give you an example ok!! Lets say
the police breaks in a
house and finds incriminating evidence
against the person living there and its a open and shut case that can put him behind bars for a long time. But thee big
mistake that the police
did they didn't get a
warrant for the search.
So the judge throws out
thee evidence and the whole case goes with it.
Then the criminal is set free to me that would be wrong. What should happen
the people responsible for not getting the warrant should have some kind of punishment,but
the evidence should remain. So that society
should not pay the price,because someone made the mistake. This is also for you KNB thanks!!
Any comments?

knb said...

The police break the law, a law they know well, and the suspect should be held anyway?

Welcome to Russia my friend.

Our laws are clear and the police breaking into a home without a warrant, is beyond the pale. Lying, to get a warrant, which we've seen, is also beyond the pale. If they cannot make their case, based on hard work and fact, then perhaps that's the aspect to be looked at.

You've made your point John, sadly, you align yourself and methods to those you decry.

That is the problem with the "right".

There's a municipal government in Atlanta. striving to ban, low riding pants that expose underwear. You know, the "gangsta" look. Their claim is, bad for society, poor values, no morals, etc. Many agree.

Guess what the Taliban based their rules on?

This is nut's. You cannot decry one rule and support it on the other hand.

Johnny said...

KNB RUSSIA are you serious please?!!! I'm
saying the people breaking the rules should be punished not society the way you want please read
this and
you will see and you will
see what is going. Russia
thats a laugh.;)
Everyone wants tougher laws except some on the left. Don't tell me N.C.
is wrong right? I still
can't believe Russia!!
Don't you realize that your presumed guilty until proven innocent
in Russia.

"There's a municipal government in Atlanta. striving to ban, low riding pants that expose underwear. You know, the "gangsta" look. Their claim is, bad for society, poor values, no morals, etc. Many agree."

What is this have to do with what we are talking about? You assume
that i support this stupid rule its ridiculous give me some credit please!!

"Guess what the Taliban based their rules on?" Are you comparing the right to the Taliban
come on not even Dion has done that please. Thats crazy thats stupid and you know it!!

Johnny said...

Spelling correction(9:24 PM) I meant to type N.S. instead of N.C.
N.S. is for Nova Scotia.
Sorry!!;)

Gayle said...

Johnny - perhaps you forgot the point that the Charter acts to prevent the innocent from being wrongfully convicted. If we do as you ask, that protection is lost, and there is no reason to even have a Charter.

More to the point, however, is the fact the police are meant to uphold the law - not to break it. I do not know why they should be permitted to break the law anytime they see fit, and then have the audacity to arrest others for breaking the law. That would lead to a police state.

I wonder how you feel if it were YOUR home broken into under your scenario.

Johnny said...

Gayle (10:56 AM)

My point is if those
police officers broke the rules they should be punished!! Not society the way you want.

Why do you want the
whole of society to suffer, because of some
bad apples that maybe in
a police force?

You may not like my
Idea fine!! Maybe i went
a little far with my warrant business can you
come up with a better idea?

Don't tell me better
police work we all know this. What I'm talking
about is if a police dept.makes a mistake I
just don't like it that
we has a society have to pay for it.

I grant you that my
Idea is probably the wrong. But do you Gayle
and KNB have a better one
other then obvious better police work ?

knb said...

Yes John, abiding by the Charter.

Our system, nor any system, is perfect. We continue to tweak it in an effort to get it right.

The Charter lay's it out rather well though.

There is no one in this country, left or right, that is happy with Holmolka being out there. No one is happy that she has had a child and what that might mean. We are all equally appalled, but we live in a country where these things are watched, by media and by the policing bodies.

They made a deal. I know the con's are cool with going back on deals, Kyoto, Income Trust, Kelowna, but legal decisions cannot just be flipped, because in hindsight you get new news.

How are the police ever going to get the truth from people like Holmolka, if they say, we'll give you this...but maybe not. Do you really think she would have talked? Of course not.

Life is ugly sometimes, the best we can do is follow the law and change it if it's not working.

Johnny said...

Your right KNB but what do you think people will say if heavens forbid
she goes back to her old ways? I know everyone will
all say the system failed
us right?