CCD Watching Supreme Court for Decision in Latimer Case

(26 November 1996) — When Robert Latimer's appeal is being heard, Catherine Frazee, a member of CCD's Human Rights Committee, will be present in the Supreme Court to monitor the proceedings and to be available to the media to present the perspective of Canadians with disabilities in this case. Other people with disabilities from the Ottawa area also plan to be in attendance. CCD hopes that the Court will reject the appeal and uphold the conviction. However, CCD recognizes that other verdicts are a possibility. The most likely scenario is that a new trial will be ordered by the Supreme Court.

If this is the case, CCD will be urging the Saskatchewan Crown to act immediately to initiate proceedings for a first degree murder trial of Robert Latimer. The Crown cannot be allowed to renege on its public commitment to hold a new trial in this case.

CCD holds the position that the murder of a person with a disability must be treated exactly the same as any other murder. As Latimer clearly premeditated Tracy's murder, a first degree murder trial is the only appropriate course of action from CCD's point of view.

The CCD Human Rights Committee met on 21 November 1996 to discuss the human rights implications of Latimer's appeal. The Committee agreed that if the Court does not uphold the original conviction, the Saskatchewan Crown must proceed with a new trial. "To ensure that justice is done for Tracy Latimer and to ensure that the lives of other children with disabilities are not devalued, it is essential that the Saskatchewan Crown undertake a new trial to demonstrate that one law applies to all people," said Hugh Scher, Chairperson of CCD's Human Rights Committee.

Then and Now

In 1993, CCD became aware of Tracy Latimer's murder and by 1995 CCD had achieved intervenor status in Robert Latimer's appeal of his murder conviction. When CCD began its work on this issue, a great deal of discussion focused on the slippery slope argument and how a failure to convict Robert Latimer for murder would put more people with disabilities in jeopardy.

In the three years since Tracy's murder, the community of persons with disabilities has witnessed the murders of Ryan Wilkieson, Katie Lynn Baker, Charles Blais and Andrea Halpin. In reality, we have begun already to move down the slope. The murder of Tracy Latimer was not an isolated incident; and it will keep happening until society wakes up and begins to punish the murderers of people with disabilities with the full force of the law.

In 1996, CCD Council spoke out in support of the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities and resolved that the murderers of people with disabilities be treated with the full force of the law. To promote a greater public understanding of the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities, CCD Council decided to publish a book commemorating the Tracy Latimer vigils and it began the Latimer Watch. CCD plans to continue the Latimer Watch as an occasional publication, publishing an issue whenever there is a development in the Latimer case and whenever there is a murder of a person with a disability. The purpose of publicly sharing personal experiences is to reveal the commonalties in our lives as people with disabilities and to connect the personal and the political in the service of change.

CCD Available for Comment

Hugh Scher—Mr. Scher, who has a law practice in Toronto, is the Chairperson of CCD's Human Rights Committee. (Tel: 416-515-9686)

Catherine Frazee—Ms. Frazee is a past Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and a member of CCD's Human Rights Committee. (Tel: 416-924-5502)

Jim Derksen—Mr. Derksen is a past Chairperson of CCD and has worked extensively at both the national and international level to advance the human rights of persons with disabilities. (Tel:204-947-0303 (days), 204-786-7937)

Pat Danforth—Ms. Danforth is a former Provincial Coordinator of the Saskatchewan Voice of Persons with Disabilities. (Tel: 306-787-2530)

Laurie Beachell—Mr. Beachell is CCD's National Coordinator and he is also available for comment (204-947-0303), as are all CCD's member groups: BCCPD (604-875-0188), ACCD (403-488-9088), SVOPD (306-569-3111), MLPD (204-943-6099), COPHAN (514-943-3995), NSLEO (902-455-6942), PEICOD (902-892-9149), CODNFLD&LB (709-722-7011), CAD (613-526-4785), DAWN Canada (604-873-1564), NEADS (613-526-8008), NNMH (613-567-4494) TVAC (519-681-0357), PF (416-920-9530).

Teen Labeled Baby Killer

USA Today reports that Brian Peterson, 18, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend's newborn son, met a hostile reaction in Wilmington, Delaware when he turned himself in to the FBI. (22 November 1996) Peterson was charged with murder and bail was denied. Both Peterson and his girlfriend, Amy Grossberg, 18, could face the death penalty. Fearing for Peterson's safety, officials fitted Peterson with a bulletproof vest before transporting him to jail.

The public outcry against Peterson contrasts sharply with the sympathy extended to Danielle Blais who murdered her son, Charles Blais, 6, who had autism. Commentators who spoke to the media indicated that Blais should not have to do jail time. While the public seeks retribution for the murder of a nondisabled child, the murderers of people with disabilities are excused because society devalues citizens with disabilities and mistakenly views a life with a disability as not being worth living.

We all live under the same SKY!

We all Live Under the Same Law

An able-bodied person murders an able-bodied person...


is cried from the rooftops!!!!

An able-bodied person murders

a disabled person...

Mercy killing???

is whispered in the streets???

Murdering of Disabled Canadians cannot be condoned!

The Tracy Fund has been set up to ensure the Council of Canadians with Disabilities can speak out on cases where disabled people have been murdered. . Support us by sending a donation to: The Tracy Fund C/O CCD, 926-294 Portage Ave.,Winnipeg, MB R3C 0B9. (CCD, 926-294 Portage Ave., Winnipeg MB, R3C 0B9.)