"As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected
and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever
~Clarence Darrow

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Latimer Case To Be On CBC Cross Country Check Up

Although not all 'advocates for the disabled' are necessarily on the same page on this one and, for example, my personal feelings are much more conflicted on this matter, I am passing along some info for your consideration.
Hi - we have word that tomorrow's [Ed. Monday, March 3, 2008] CBC cross country check up with Rex Murphy will focus on Latimer - so encourage all to listen and phone in if you can. As we discussed on our Board call earlier this week, our key messages are:

- the National Parole Board Appeals Division decision brings to a close this chapter in the story about Tracy Latimer

- We regret that Mr. Latimer has not expressed remorse or apparent understanding about his actions, because we believe this would have sent a message to the public that would help counter the view of many Canadians that he was justified in his actions

- We think it's time to turn to the larger story here - the apparent moral consensus among the media and many in the broader public that Robert Latimer's murder of his daughter was justified by her condition. That consensus will be more and more problematic as we face a future of a growing proportion of Canadians living with signficant and pain-related disabilities... 1.8 million (a number and proportion that is growing) of working age Canadians live with pain related disabilities - and over 70% of those (or 1.3 million Canadians age 15-64) indicate they experience pain constantly (thanks Cam for pulling these numbers together from the December 2007 release from Statistics Canada).

- We think the real lesson from the Tracy Latimer case is not, as many suggest, that we need to renew the debate about mercy killing. Because this was not euthanasia or mercy killing - Tracy was not dying. Her pain could have been relieved with more effective pain management medication if her parents had allowed a feeding tube to be inserted. They refused, which is why the pain management was so ineffective and the stories circulate that she could only take Tylenol... No, the real story is why Canadians with disabilities are so vulnerable to violence and abuse, to not getting the supports they need.

- Given the continued vulnerability Canadians with signficant disabilities face in our communities, the threat and experience of violence faced, we think it is time for a National inquiry into the status and vulnerability of people with disabilities in Canadian communities. This is one way that Canadians can come face to face with the realities, the voices, the lives of people with disabilities. To frame the Tracy Latimer issue as one of mercy killing, is to miss the core issue her life and death repesent - that of vulnerability to violence and abuse...

- Some have suggested that there is really something wrong with our justice system if Karla Homolka and other who have done horrific crimes get less time than Robert Latimer. If we are challenged on that point, one response might be that... if we think that is a problem maybe we should be looking at why others are getting out so early, and off so early... How the justice system dealt with Karla Homolka and others may not be the standard we want to hold ourselves to.

- So let's see if we can use this opportunity to get our message out, and to make a call for a National inquiry into the status of Canadians with disabilities a call that starts to 'stick'.

- Am hoping you can get a message out to your networks, and that PT Presidents and Executive Directors can circulate to our local membership news of the show and encouragement to call in...


Michael Bach
Executive Vice-President
Canadian Association for Community Living
Kinsmen Building, York University
4700 Keele St., North York, ON, L9W 2Y8
416 661 9611 x. 237
416 661 5701 (fax)

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