Peter Stockland, the former editor in chief of the Montreal Gazette, was published by Maclean’s Magazine on August 17, 2018 concerning the application for clemency for Robert Latimer, who gassed his daughter Tracy to death in 1993.
Several weeks ago, Robert Latimer asked the Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould that he pardoned of his second-degree murder conviction in the death of his daughter Tracy, who was living with Cerebral Palsy. Latimer claimed that since euthanasia is now legal in Canada, that his crime should be erased from his record freeing him of the difficulty of crossing the boarder.
Stockland explains that Latimer lacks remorse for killing his daughter:
Latimer himself has never hesitated to volubly proclaim he did nothing wrong in 1993 when he put his 12-year-old daughter Tracy in the cab of his farm truck and pumped carbon monoxide in to kill her. As recently as October 2017, Latimer gave an interview to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix in which he insisted yet again: “What I did was right.”
Such defiant lack of remorse, in the face of five legal proceedings affirming his guilt and sentence, might be deemed worthy of comment by a government that seldom feels the need to restrain its vocal enthusiasm on an array of issues, including criminal verdicts still subject to potential appeal.
Stockland recognizes that Latimer has a right to request clemency for his murder conviction, and he explains some of the facts of the case:
Canadians who recall the 25-year-old killing know Latimer confessed, after initially lying to police.
In its 2001 decision upholding his conviction and sentence, the Supreme Court records that “Mr. Latimer…told police he had considered giving Tracy an overdose of Valium or ‘shooting her in the head’ to end her suffering from severe cerebral palsy. The court documents the alternatives open to Latimer such as surgery for Tracy or placement in a care facility, all of which he rejected in favour of killing her. “Tracy’s proposed surgery did not pose an imminent threat to her life, nor did her medical condition,” the court said in rejecting what is called the defence of necessity. “In fact, Tracy’s health might have improved had the Latimers not rejected the option of relying on a feeding tube. [Latimer] can be reasonably expected to have understood that reality.”
Stockland interviews Taylor Hyatt, the outreach coordinator and policy analyst for the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, how attitides might change if Latimer is given a pardon:
“You’re going to see a tremendous shift in the way that disability, and people who live with it, is treated by Canadian society,” she says. “Down the road, more people could be inspired to share Mr. Latimer’s views and act on them by judging from the outside that a life like mine or Tracy’s is not worth living. People will be put in very real danger.”
… Hyatt lives with cerebral palsy as Tracy Latimer did for the 12 years of her life, though its effect isn’t remotely as severe. It has taught her a great deal about assumptions Canadians still paternalistically make on behalf the disabled. She loathes, for example, the routine reference to her being “confined” to a wheelchair.
“It’s true I have to use it all the time, but I’m not confined to it. I’m liberated. Without it, I would not be able to get out and experience the world as I do.”
Stockland concludes his article by quoting Hyatt:
“He killed his minor daughter without her consent because of what he believed her life was like. Just because a way of life looks unfamiliar, even scary, even a thousand times harder than your own, don’t be quick to judge it is not worth living, and to impose your assumptions of a good life onto the life that is already there,” Hyatt says.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition opposes clemency for Robert Latimer.