Coalition Of Disabled Canadians Seek Intervenor Status in Latimer Appeal

For Immediate Release

May 19, 1998

Six major organizations of Canadians with disabilities and their families approached the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal today to seek intervenor status in the appeal of Robert Latimer's second degree murder conviction and the sentence imposed. The organizations are:

  • Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD),
  • Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL),
  • DAWN Canada Disabled Women's Network Canada,
  • People for Equal Participation (PEP),
  • People First of Canada, and
  • Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities (Sask. Voice).

CCD, PEP and Sask. Voice appeared as intervenors during Latimer's first appeal.

"This case is very important to Canadians with disabilities," said Hugh Scher, CCD's Human Rights Committee chair. "The central issue is the rights of persons with disabilities to equal protection of the law. The decision of the trial judge put disabled persons at risk by not imposing the mandatory sentence for second degree murder," said Scher a Toronto lawyer with a disability. Theresa Ducharme Chairperson of PEP asks, "Is my life worth less simply because I have a disability? Is my disability a reason for diminishing the protection I'm given by the law?"

Robert Latimer has shown no remorse for his actions. In fact, he claims he had the right to kill his daughter. Since when did it become permissible for parents to murder their children? If Tracy did not have a disability, her murder and the lesser sentence given Mr. Latimer would have outraged the public." stated Bruce Uditsky of CACL.

"Robert Latimer says his sentence is "cruel and unusual". However, the sentence given him for murdering his daughter puts at risk the lives of other people with disabilities, particularly those who cannot speak for themselves," said Gordon Fletcher of People First of Canada.

"This case has generated huge misconceptions about people with disabilities. Yes pain can be a part of disability, however, it is seldom continual. The media has portrayed Tracy as trapped by a body constantly in pain rather than seeing her as a vibrant girl who could enjoy and partake in life,". said Nora Bednarski of DAWN Canada.

"In Saskatchewan, people with disabilities have borne the backlash of this case. This case offends our basic human rights and our dignity," said Pat Danforth member of Sask. Voice.The Coalition seeks to ensure that the voice of people with disabilities is heard by the Court of Appeal and is not lost as it was during the trial.

For more information contact:

Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), Laurie Beachell, 204-947-0303; Hugh Scher, 416-515-9686;

Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), Diane Richler, 416-661-9611; Bruce Uditsky, 403-451-3055;

Disabled Women's Network Canada (DAWN), Nora Bednarski, 514-844-7636; or Eileen O'Brien, 604 873-1564;

People for Equal Participation (PEP), Theresa Ducharme, 204-222-1162; Grant Mitchell, 204-949-1312;

People First of Canada, Gordon Fletcher, 250-364-1433;

Saskatchewan Voice of People with Disabilities (Sask. Voice), Bev Boehm, 306-569-3111; Pat Danforth, 306-787-