Latimer Supporters Again Call For Clemency
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 17, 2005
REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN--Last Friday, a group from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association met with federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler to push for clemency for Robert Latimer.
The group included former Saskatchewan Premier Allan Blakeney, who called Latimer's minimum 10-year imprisonment for second-degree murder "an injustice".
Latimer admitted that he killed his 12-year-old daughter, Tracy, who had cerebral palsy and mental retardation in October 1993. He said he pumped fuel exhaust into the cab of his pickup, where Tracy lay, to end her "suffering" from her disabilities and surgeries.
Many disability rights advocates have suggested that Latimer murdered Tracy because he was tired of dealing with his own emotional pain. Some people who knew Tracy said that even though the girl did not speak, she let them know how much she loved people and enjoyed life. Others have pointed out that when Tracy died she was scheduled to undergo pain-relieving hip surgery a few days later.
The Canada Supreme Court ruled in January 2001 that Latimer was to spend at least 10 years of a 25-year sentence behind bars. He will first be eligible for parole in December 2007.
Members of the CCLA have pushed for Latimer's release for years. On Friday, the delegation reportedly told Cotler that Latimer's sentence is one reason minimum mandatory sentencing should be removed from the Criminal Code.
For more than a decade, the Latimer case has been the focus of attention for disability rights advocates who see it as one of countless examples that society in general does not think the lives of people with disabilities are important -- that killing people who have certain disabilities is not only tolerated, but also justified as "merciful".
University of Alberta psychology professor Dick Sobsey has noted that Canada experienced a marked increase in the incidence of "altruistic filicide" -- the killing of a child out of a belief that death is in the child's best interest -- in the years immediately following Tracy's murder.
"Tracy Latimer's Death: Mercy or Murder?" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)