Paula Simons is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal and a woman whom I respect. I truly do. But her column today in defence of Vince Li's "rights" has me up at 7 am on a Saturday morning pre-coffee, mind you), ready to kick someones ass.
The minute I saw that the recommendation at Li's annual review was for "day passes" (wrongly reported by a canoe.ca, which has been conveniently removed...they aren't the only media outlets to get their facts wrong, CTV Winnipeg screwed up, too, by saying the ruling doesn't specifically say Li must be escorted by staff when clearly, it does) I flipped. I literally blogged within minutes of seeing that story and texted Carol deDelley, Tim McLean's mom, to see if she saw that story. She told me she had just left the review and that the recommendation was for 15 minute escorted walks around the grounds of the facility.
After my initial rant, I thought, OK, maybe that's not so bad. Sunshine, he'll be escorted, it's only 15 minutes a day...
And then I thought about Tim and the amount of sunshine HE gets right now.
1. That he reside on the locked forensic ward at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, Selkirk, Manitoba;
2. That upon the recommendations of the treatment team, the person in charge of the hospital may grant staff supervised hospital grounds pass privileges, subject to the following provisions:
i) passes start at fifteen minutes and increase incrementally to a maximum of one hour, twice daily;
ii) the treatment team is of the opinion that his condition is stable and that it would be appropriate and safe for him to leave the locked ward;
iii) while he is away from the locked ward on any supervised hospital grounds passes, he is to be escorted at all times on a two-to-one basis by two staff members who are equipped with either a two-way radio or a cell phone;
iv) security staff at the hospital are informed when each grounds pass is to occur;
3. That if he is required to leave the hospital grounds for any reason, he is to be escorted at all times by a peace officer;
4. That he present himself before the Review Board as directed by the Chairperson thereof;
5. That he keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
Imagine life if you could never go outside, never see the sky or touch the grass. Imagine if you had to spend every waking and sleeping moment locked inside a noisy psychiatric ward, breathing dank hospital smells, looking at bleak hospital walls. Such cruel and unusual punishment would drive a sane man mad.
But he's NOT SANE, PAULA!!! He's schizophrenic. He has been for a long time and contrary to what Paula writes, he WAS a diagnosed and treated Schizo who refused help and did not take his medications. (Don't get all up in my shit, here either about having no compassion for the crazy people, because I come from a family of schizos and clinically depressed people, so yah, I get it).
Li isn't a prisoner. He's a patient. And medically speaking, his doctors believe it would be good for his mental and physical health to take a 15-minute walk outside, under strict guard, twice a day. If we want to lessen the danger Li poses to the public, if we want him to get better, maybe their advice is worth heeding.
My question is this: Why the hell should ANYONE give a rat's ass about Li and his rights? Paula says that if we don't the our own rights are at stake.
Fuck. She makes a valid point.
But this is where the LAW NEEDS TO CHANGE.
The problem with Canada's judicial system stems RIGHT BACK to the bullshit law we call The Not Criminally Responsible Law" (NCR). It's the law hardly ANYONE in Canada knew about until this case made headlines around the world. It's the law that Tim's mom, Carol, is fighting to change.
Carol says the average release date for an NCR "patient?" "criminal??" "fuckstick" whatever, (my words, not Carol's FYI) is on average, 3-5 years.
He's been a patient at the Selkirk facility for two years.
"He'll be out. And at that point, you'd better be scared."
Paula's beef with this issue is that the province stepped in and said 'Oh hell NO!" (or something like that) to have Li walk around outside, until security measures are in place.
"There's nothing in the Criminal Code that would permit the attorney general to set aside an order of the board," says Winnipeg lawyer John Stefaniuk, chair of the Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board.
But Swan's press secretary, Joelle Saltel-Allard, says the minister acted within his authority because he didn't overrule anything.
"This is not overruling a decision," she says. "The decision will be implemented, but not until additional security measures have been put in place to ensure public safety."
Of course, we need to protect people from Li and protect him from himself. But fear and loathing shouldn't trump common sense, basic humanity or judicial independence. Politicians can't run roughshod over legal rulings they don't like because of a public backlash or single out a patient for arbitrary treatment because his act made the goriest headlines.
I wonder if the powers that be are REALLY concerned about public safety or Vince Li? Most people are outraged with the NCR verdict that Li received and haven't forgotten what he did to Tim. Li was never placed in General Population because they were concerned for his safety. So to have him "escorted" by two PEACE OFFICERS (aka not a real cops) whilst he enjoys fresh air and sunshine, seems to me like they are protecting HIM from anyone who may want to protest, or even exact some sort of vigilante justice.
This case pissed a LOT of people off.
The details are gory, disgusting and sound like something out of a horror movie. But don't tell me that Li had no intentions of killing someone. He boarded that Greyhound with a HUNTING KNIFE then, when it was convenient, told people God made him do it.
Yah, sounds crazy to me.
Bottom line is, Li is still hallucinating. He's still crazy. He should be locked in a facility that has the appropriate security and treatment measures in place.