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A child with disabilities is as worthy of life as any other child: Convicted child murderer Robert Latimer must not be pardoned

Published Tuesday, July 24, 2018 11:20 am

Inclusion Alberta is asking the Prime Minister and Justice Minister to reject Robert Latimer’s application for a pardon.

In 1993, Robert Latimer murdered his daughter Tracy, who had developmental disabilities. His conviction and sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001. Mr. Latimer asphyxiated his daughter using the exhaust from his truck. He claimed to have planned her murder because of the pain she was experiencing due to her cerebral palsy. He has since been paroled.

On July 13, 2018, Mr. Latimer, through his lawyer, wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau claiming, 1) he was the victim of medical malpractice because he was not properly advised or given access to medication that could have alleviated Tracy’s pain and as such was deserving of a new trial and 2) if a new trial was not granted, then he should be pardoned. 

There were, and are, Canadians who believed Mr. Latimer should not have been convicted of murder because Tracy was in pain. Yet virtually every argument ever offered in condoning Mr. Latimer’s actions describes Tracy’s life as not worth living given her disabilities and/or that her life was not equal in value to children without disabilities. As such, they argue Tracy’s murder should not be viewed as equivalent to the murder of a child without disabilities.

Barb MacIntyre, President of Inclusion Alberta and a parent of son with disabilities, stated, “Today, as in 1993, we believe that Tracy’s pre-meditated murder should be considered no differently than the murder of any child. Any parent would do everything possible to alleviate their child’s pain, including sacrificing their own life, but a moral line must be held that does not justify the murder of children. Seeing the murder of a child as an act of claimed parental love perverts the very essence of that love.”

There are many examples of factual evidence entered into trial that contradicted the degree of pain Tracy experienced, in addition to describing her enjoyment of school and her interactions with her family. Some more recent articles detailing this are Heidi Janz's op-ed in Postmedia: Latimer pardon request stirs up nightmare for disabled; and Andre Picard's column in the Globe and Mail: Pardoning Robert Latimer is not justified. The Latimer Factum from 2000 also includes these facts.

As parents and advocates we know, with absolute conviction and lived experience, that individuals with severe developmental disabilities offer as much to our lives, and the world, as anyone else. More to the point, we simply do not believe any child with disabilities has to prove or demonstrate their equivalent human worth to that of any other child; to their right to be safe and secure in the arms of their parents regardless of their degree of disability.

Children and adults with developmental disabilities must be safe and free from the harm and prejudice that continues to devalue their lives. We call upon Prime Minister Trudeau and the Minister of Justice to honour Tracy’s memory and deny Mr. Latimer’s pardon application, thus reaffirming the finding of the Supreme Court of this country that murder is no less such because the victim had a disability.

 

For more information, please contact:

Jeff Samsonow, Communications Coordinator, Inclusion Alberta

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