Support CCD's Work on Fundamental Human Rights

(December 1, 1999) — CCD is seeking the financial support of all people interested in the fundamental human rights of people with disabilities. At this time of year, many people make donations to causes which they believe to be important. When you are making these decisions, CCD would like you to remember the Tracy Fund. CCD uses funds donated to the Tracy Fund to support its on-going work to promote the fundamental human rights of people with disabilities and, in particular, to work on the Latimer case.

As the Latimer case is going to the Supreme Court once again, this will be a busy year for CCD and its Human Rights Committee. CCD, along with other organizations, has sought intervenor status in this case. CCD has been involved in both of Robert Latimer's appeals which took place at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal level. CCD did not intervene in the last Supreme Court of Canada appeal because it addressed grounds outside of CCD's expertise.

Regardless of whether CCD is granted intervenor status in the case, there will be a great deal of work for CCD to do when the case is before the court and at the time that the decision is brought down.

Past experience has taught CCD that if it, and its member organizations are not vigilant, then the point of view of people with disabilities will be absent from the public discourse on the Latimer case. With its member organizations, CCD has made a concerted effort to make the disability community's expertise on this case known to members of the media.

CCD has also produced public education material on the Latimer case to inform the general public about the perspective of people with disabilities on the case. CCD's most recent public education piece is the booklet "Reflections of People with Disabilities on the Latimer Case." At a CCD Council meeting, members observed that the public had very little opportunity to hear from parents who have children with disabilities who make radically different choices than that of the Latimer family and from people with disabilities similar to Tracy's disability who go on to have happy and productive lives. CCD's booklet conveys an important disability-positive message which states clearly that Robert Latimer's decision to murder Tracy was the wrong choice and one which robbed a human being of her right to life and all that goes along with being alive: joy and pain, happiness and sadness, victories and disappointments. The publication reiterates the disability movement's point of view that no one has the right to take choice away from a person with a disability.

CCD has advertised the availability of "Reflections of People with Disabilities on the Latimer Case" to libraries in Canada and the United States, as libraries have the capacity to make the publication available to a wide number of readers.

CCD launched the booklet at a public reading at a mainstream bookstore in Winnipeg. Once again the public had the opportunity to learn that Robert Latimer's choice was the wrong choice. Following a presentation at the event by a boy, who uses a wheelchair and a voice synthesizer to facilitate communication, it was obvious to all in attendance that there could have been opportunities for Tracy to come out and participate in society, if Robert Latimer had not murdered her.

CCD has also helped researchers working on the Latimer case. For example, CCD made its files available to Ruth Enns who recently published "A Voice Unheard." This book is now available in bookstores and presents the viewpoint of a woman with a disability on the case.

Over the years, CCD has also published the Latimer Watch, which alerts readers to new developments in the case and brings to the attention of the disability rights movement new threats to the fundamental human rights of people with disabilities. In the coming months, CCD will continue to distribute the Latimer Watch to keep those interested in the case up to date with happenings in the case and to share new strategies being developed by CCD's Human Rights Committee to ensure that people with disabilities are front and center in the discussions which take place on this case. CCD's motto is "VOICE OF OUR OWN" and it uses the Latimer Watch to ensure that the consumer voice is both constant and informed on this case which has been tried in both the court of law and the court of public opinion.

To date, Canada's legal system has responded to this case in a manner which has ensured Canadians with disabilities equal protection and benefit of the law. Where we have not fared so well is in the court of public opinion. There are many Canadians who continue to maintain that Robert Latimer should not receive the full penalty of the law.

CCD's on-going presence is needed in order to challenge all of those who assert publicly that it is better to be dead than disabled, as this is what people do when they support a lesser sentence for Robert Latimer.

Your financial support for CCD's work in this area is important. Please give generously to the Tracy Fund.





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