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New Brunswick man who killed three Mounties in 2014 files appeal

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New Brunswick man who killed three Mounties in 2014

A New Brunswick man who fatally shot three Mounties eight years ago has applied to the province’s highest court to have his precedent-setting sentence drastically reduced.

In 2014, Justin Bourque was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years, which at the time was the harshest penalty imposed by a Canadian court since 1962 — the last time state-sanctioned executions were carried out.

In a notice of appeal filed last month, Bourque’s lawyer cites the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in May to strike down a 2011 law that made it possible for judges to extend parole ineligibility periods beyond 25 years for people convicted of multiple murders.

In its decision last year, the Supreme Court said the Criminal Code provision violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment for offenders who faced no realistic possibility of being granted parole before they died. The top court also declared the law was invalid retroactive to when it was enacted.

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Bourque’s lawyer, David Lutz, confirmed Thursday that the New Brunswick Court of Appeal will deal with the matter on Feb. 15, but he said there will be no oral hearing at that time. He declined to comment when asked if the proceeding will be just a formality, given the Supreme Court of Canada’s earlier decision.

That unanimous ruling was in response to an appeal filed by Alexandre Bissonnette, who was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years after he pleaded guilty to fatally shooting six people at a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

A judge found the parole ineligibility provision unconstitutional but did not declare it invalid. Quebec’s Court of Appeal subsequently ruled the provision invalid on constitutional grounds. And it said the court must revert to the law as it stood before 2011, meaning parole ineligibility periods are to be served concurrently instead of consecutively, resulting in a total waiting period of 25 years in Bissonnette’s case.

Bourque pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder after targeting RCMP officers on the night of June 4, 2014.

An agreed statement of facts said Bourque’s actions in Moncton, N.B., were “planned and deliberate” when he used a semi-automatic rifle to kill constables Dave Ross, 32; Fabrice Gevaudan, 45; and Douglas Larche, 40. Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were injured in the shootings.

At his sentencing hearing, the court watched a videotaped statement from Bourque, who said he had wanted to encourage people to rise up against the “soldiers” that defend federal institutions and protect the rich from the poor. He mused about his strict Catholic upbringing, climate change, evolution, social engineering, class warfare, tyrants and threats posed by the Russians and the Chinese.

He was automatically sentenced to life in prison — a minimum 25-year term. As well, the judge decided that under the 2011 law, the 25-year parole ineligibility period required for each first-degree murder conviction would be applied consecutively, meaning Bourque would have to wait 75 years before he could apply for parole.

With the anticipated reduction in that sentence next month, Bourque — who was 24 at the time of the murders — should be able to apply for parole when he is 49 instead of 99.

In its decision, the Supreme Court of Canada said the Charter requires Parliament to leave a door open for rehabilitation. Chief Justice Richard Wagner, writing on behalf of the high court, said the 2011 law authorized the courts to impose “a sentence so absurd that it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

The 2011 legislation was called the Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act. It was introduced by the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2023.

— By Michael MacDonald in Halifax.

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St-Onge urges provinces to accelerate efforts to make sports safer for athletes

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Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge says ending abuse in sports will require complaints processes that include provincial-level athletes, not just national ones.

St-Onge and provincial sports ministers will meet during the Canada Games in mid-February where their agenda will include the ongoing effort to address widespread allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in sports.

She says she asked the provincial ministers at an August meeting to look at joining the new federal sport integrity process or creating their own.

The national sports integrity commissioner can only investigate allegations of abuse from athletes at the national level.

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But St-Onge says the vast majority of athletes aren’t in that category and only Quebec has its own sports integrity office capable of receiving and investigating complaints.

The national sport integrity office officially began its work last June and has since received 48 complaints from athletes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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Justice is a Privilege Reserved for the Few

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History is full of examples showing us that Justice is a privilege reserved for the few, the wealthy, politically and financially connected, in fact, those of the right colour or race depending on where and when this justice was to be dealt with. Justice must be earnt, and it expends a colossal cost. What do I mean?

When a justice system demands proof of your innocence, while viewing the accused as guilty until that proof surfaces, the system of justice seems to be blind to all but those with the ability to hire known lawyers and a defense team to point out any misunderstandings that arise. A Black Man with many priors stands before a judge, accused of violent crimes. Will such a man have the ability to raise money to get out of jail and hire a powerful legal team? If he is a financially well-off man perhaps, but if he is an “Average Joe”, the justice system swallows him up, incarcerating him while he waits for his trial, and possible conviction. While the justice system is supposed to be blind to financial, sexist, and racial coding, the statistics show White men often walk, and Black-Hispanic and men of color often do not. Don’t think so?

America’s Justice system has a huge penal population, well into the millions of citizens in public and private prisons across the land. According to Scientific America, 71% of those imprisoned are not white. So do you think these men and women got there because of their choices or did the system help to decide that while whites can be either excused, rehabilitated or found not endangering the greater society, “the others” are threats to the nation’s security and population?

White privilege is still prevalent within our system, with financial privilege a close second.

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The World was white, but now its really black(non-white)
Justice for all is never achieved, just verbatim.
What can justice do for the lowly man
while jails fill and are built anew continually?

When you are seen as an outsider always,
and the precious few escape societies’ hungry grasp.
Justice for all is the cry we all hear these days,
While the policeman stamps your future out at last.

Martin L says the Black Persons going to win this war,
and a war of attrition it truly has been.
Justice is a privileged and socially mobile thing,
leaving the many to pray to the spirit of Tyre Nichols,
asking what the hell can we do???

I walked through an airport recently with no problem and no questioning. Customs and border officers were busy getting into the face of many non-white travelers. To this very day, a non-white person flying anywhere with a long beard, and dressed like a Muslim could get you unwelcomed trouble. Being different will always create difficulties. Being out of your place in another financial-ethnic society will be a challenge. Race, financial and political privilege will forever be with us. The powerful will always be able to dance around the justice system’s rules and regulations. Why? Well, the justice system is an exclusive club, filled with lawyers and police. The administrators and enforcers of the system. Some other form of the judicial system is needed, with a firm root in community equality. Can our Justice System be truly blind to all influencers, but the laws of the land? Can victims of crime receive true justice, retribution in kind for the offenses carried out by criminals against them?

” In the final analysis, true justice is not a matter of courts and law books, but of a commitment in each of us to liberty and mutual respect”(Jimmy Carter). Mutual respect of all actors in the play known as the Justice System, influenced, manipulated, and written by lawyers and academics. God help us.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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By the numbers for British Columbia’s overdose crisis

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British Columbia’s chief coroner released overdose figures for 2022, showing 2,272 residents died from toxic drugs last year. Lisa Lapointe says drug toxicity remains the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C., and is second only to cancers in terms of years of life lost.

Here are some of the numbers connected to the overdose crisis:

189: Average number of deaths per month last year.

6.2: Average deaths per day.

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At least 11,171: Deaths attributed to drug toxicity since the public health emergency was declared in April 2016.

70: Percentage of the dead between 30 and 59 years old.

79: Percentage of those who died who were male.

65: Children and youth who have died in the last two years.

82: Percentage of the deaths where the toxic opioid fentanyl was involved.

73,000: People in B.C. who have been diagnosed with opioid use disorder.

8.8: The rate that First Nations women are dying, is a multiple of the general population’s rate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

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