Category Archives: Uncategorized

Quebec Cops Get Failing Grade

In last Saturday’s Gazette, Montreal executive committee member responsible for public safety, Peter Yeomans states “it just doesn’t make any sense” that Montreal cops would get a failing grade for crime-solving.

Say what?

Each Christmas in Montreal brings about three events that go down like clockwork: boxing day shoppers run rabid in the streets, the Habs lose their Saturday night hockey game – usually on home ice, and Stats Can releases their annual crime statistics. The exuberance of the first two events usually obscures the significance of the third – but not this year. Fact is, no one should be surprised by Montreal’s ranking (31st out of 43 Canadian cities), or that Quebec and British Columbia have the worst records for solving crimes. Criminology researcher Paul Brodeur insults our intelligence by explaining that the ranking is skewed by burglary stats. If Montreal’s data includes burglaries, don’t you think the other 43 cities include the same handicap? Hello?

Further, Yeomans says a 70% clearance rate on homicides is “excellent”.

That close to a third of homicides go unsolved? I wouldn’t even call that acceptable. What the stats won’t tell you is that for the past twenty years Quebec has had an unsolved homicide rate 10% greater than that of the rest of Canada, according to statistics from the Ministere du Securite Publique. Further a 70% clearance rate puts Montreal only in a slightly better position than the clearance rate on homicides in the United States for 2002, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. I’m sorry, but wasn’t one of the advantages of living in Canada supposed to be that it was safer (read: better) than living in the States?

Before Yeomans begins bragging about the “excellent reputation” of the Montreal and Quebec police forces, maybe officers need to spend a little more time doing the nuts and bolts work that earn such respect.

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Ain’t It Weird

One of the best year in review columns is Kristian Gravenor’s annual stupid-crimes-in-Quebec roundup. Gravenor writes for the Montreal Mirror (kind of a Village Voice for the Southern Quebec region). Over the past five years his Weird Crime column has attained a sort of cult status. Strangely, this is the one time during the year that Gravenor writes about crime – normally he is an art critic. This year’s offering is hysterical and not to be missed. I especially liked the comment about the Drummondville Symphony Orchestra.

Here are some links to previous entries:

Weird Crime 2002

Weird Crime 2001

Weird Crime 2000

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2003 – Canadian Crime In Review

Get over it: Canada’s as violent as the U.S.

Ok, so I admit I have a bias for Quebec crime, but just to show I can be fair and balanced, I will leave off any mention of arsonist-cum-murderer Angelo Colalillo, M.D. impersonator-cum-murderer Richard Bouillon, knife enthusiast Guy Croteau (say, doesn’t Croteau mean “cut” in French? Ironic, eh? ), object of police fabricated evidenceHugo Bernier, or good-old-fashioned serial killer William Fyfe. Oh and contrary to Court TV, the trial of the new millennium has nothing to do with a kiddie diddler named Michael: it’s all about a little Angel named Mom.

So here are my top ten stories from 2003 demonstrating the violence and corruption of the great white north:

1. Newfoundland’s Ouchie

A former chief justice of the Supreme Court is asked to investigate why so many wrongful-murder convictions have occurred in Newfoundland. Asked to probe the cases of Gregory Parsons, Ronald Dalton and Randy Druken, former chief justice Antonio Lamer stated there may be a “systematic failure of the system or, maybe it was just three individual boo-boos.”

2. Deep Throat Probes the Prairie

Saskatoon hit the big time when the Washington Post reported the plight of Darrell Night, a 37-year-old member of the Cree Nation who was driven to the outskirts of town and left for dead in the freezing cold by two members of the Saskatoon police force. “Get the fuck out of here, you fucking Indian”; that’s how officers left Night, who managed to survive the three mile walk back to the city. The force is now under investigation since several frozen aboriginal bodies have turned up in the area where police left Night.

3. Human Remains Discovered in Dartmouth Quarry

In August, RCMP confirmed that human remains were found in a rock quarry outside Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Investigators were at a loss to say who the remains belonged to; was it a 15-year-old boy missing since 1995? A former Hells Angels member missing since 1999? My guess is it’s one of the countless young women that have gone missing from the Halifax area – in the past 15 years many turned up in wooded areas, while others have disappeared without a trace.

4. Vince Bevan? Is anybody home?

It is a tragedy that graduate student Ardeth Wood went missing from downtown Ottawa in the summer of 2003 only to turn up dead along a riverside biking path. But the real story here is how Ottawa chief of police, Vince Bevan still can’t solve this crime. You remember Bevan – he’s the one who let Karla Homolka plea bargain her way out of a life sentence. How someone can blow the Paul Bernardo case then get PROMOTED to chief of police is beyond me. 

The scuttlebutt around the Nation’s Capital is that police were aware of a serial rapist operating along the biking paths of the Ottawa river long before Ardeth Wood disappeared. Now the case is stone cold and Bevan isn’t talking.

5. Toronto The Very Bad

10-year-old Holly Jones disappears from her downtown neighborhood. Later pieces of her body are found floating in luggage along the shores of Lake Ontario. Police arrest 35-year-old Michael Briere, a software developer who lives near Holly’s home. These things aren’t supposed to happen in Toronto.

6. Cecilia Zhang – “Parents may breathe a little easier”

So said police in the wake of the abduction of the nine-year-old child, confident that Zhang was part of a ransom plot and not abducted by a sexual predator. Shaken by the murder of Holly Jones, authorities didn’t want Toronto to break into total panic. It’s been over two months now and police still can’t find Cecilia.

7. Ridgway vs Pickton – Can We Get A Recount?

On December 18th, Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway is sentenced to life in prison after confessing to the murders of 48 women over the past two decades. The murders set a record for serial killings in America, but Ridgway may have a rival – up the road in British Columbia, pig farmer Robert Pickton is charged with seven additional murders, bringing his total charges to 22. Pickton is reputed to be Canada’s worst serial killer, possibly responsible for the murders of over 60 prostitutes from downtown Vancouver.

8. Edmonton’s Missing Women

Not to be outdone by their neighbors in Vancouver, Edmonton has its own missing women. A task force from the Western province has been handed 123 cases to investigate in relation to the unsolved murders of 20 area prostitutes. 

9. Etiquette 101:
If you throw a party, don’t forget to invite the guests!

In November, Justice Canada hosts a victims of crime conference. Dubbed, Lessons Learned from Victims of Crime the event was unique on two accounts:

1. It was the first of its kind in Canada.

2. The DOG neglected to invite victims.

Left to explain the gaff of the Ministry, then Deputy Justice Minister Richard Mosley was given a deus ex machina when outgoing Prime Minister, Jean Chretien swiftly promoted him to the Supreme Court. Talk about your exit strategies. Let’s hope future conferences will be more inclusive.

10. Nutcase Watch

December 31, 2003 – Only 553 days left until Karla Homolka is released from prison.

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2003 – Canadian Crime In Review

Get over it: Canada’s as violent as the U.S.

Ok, so I admit I have a bias for Quebec crime, but just to show I can be fair and balanced, I will leave off any mention of arsonist-cum-murderer Angelo Colalillo, M.D. impersonator-cum-murderer Richard Bouillon, knife enthusiast Guy Croteau (say, doesn’t Croteau mean “cut” in French? Ironic, eh? ), object of police fabricated evidence Hugo Bernier, or good-old-fashioned serial killer William Fyfe. Oh and contrary to Court TV, the trial of the new millennium has nothing to do with a kiddie diddler named Michael: it’s all about a little Angel named Mom.

So here are my top ten stories from 2003 demonstrating the violence and corruption of the great white north:

1. Newfoundland’s Ouchie

A former chief justice of the Supreme Court is asked to investigate why so many wrongful-murder convictions have occurred in Newfoundland. Asked to probe the cases of Gregory Parsons, Ronald Dalton and Randy Druken, former chief justice Antonio Lamer stated there may be a “systematic failure of the system or, maybe it was just three individual boo-boos.”

2. Deep Throat Probes the Prairie

Saskatoon hit the big time when the Washington Post reported the plight of Darrell Night, a 37-year-old member of the Cree Nation who was driven to the outskirts of town and left for dead in the freezing cold by two members of the Saskatoon police force. “Get the fuck out of here, you fucking Indian”; that’s how officers left Night, who managed to survive the three mile walk back to the city. The force is now under investigation since several frozen aboriginal bodies have turned up in the area where police left Night.

3. Human Remains Discovered in Dartmouth Quarry

In August, RCMP confirmed that human remains were found in a rock quarry outside Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Investigators were at a loss to say who the remains belonged to; was it a 15-year-old boy missing since 1995? A former Hells Angels member missing since 1999? My guess is it’s one of the countless young women that have gone missing from the Halifax area – in the past 15 years many turned up in wooded areas, while others have disappeared without a trace.

4. Vince Bevan? Is anybody home?

It is a tragedy that graduate student Ardeth Wood went missing from downtown Ottawa in the summer of 2003 only to turn up dead along a riverside biking path. But the real story here is how Ottawa chief of police, Vince Bevan still can’t solve this crime. You remember Bevan – he’s the one who let Karla Homolka plea bargain her way out of a life sentence. How someone can blow the Paul Bernardo case then get PROMOTED to chief of police is beyond me.

The scuttlebutt around the Nation’s Capital is that police were aware of a serial rapist operating along the biking paths of the Ottawa river long before Ardeth Wood disappeared. Now the case is stone cold and Bevan isn’t talking.

5. Toronto The Very Bad

10-year-old Holly Jones disappears from her downtown neighborhood. Later pieces of her body are found floating in luggage along the shores of Lake Ontario. Police arrest 35-year-old Michael Briere, a software developer who lives near Holly’s home. These things aren’t supposed to happen in Toronto.

6. Cecilia Zhang – “Parents may breathe a little easier”

So said police in the wake of the abduction of the nine-year-old child, confident that Zhang was part of a ransom plot and not abducted by a sexual predator. Shaken by the murder of Holly Jones, authorities didn’t want Toronto to break into total panic. It’s been over two months now and police still can’t find Cecilia.

7. Ridgway vs Pickton – Can We Get A Recount?

On December 18th, Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway is sentenced to life in prison after confessing to the murders of 48 women over the past two decades. The murders set a record for serial killings in America, but Ridgway may have a rival – up the road in British Columbia, pig farmer Robert Pickton is charged with seven additional murders, bringing his total charges to 22. Pickton is reputed to be Canada’s worst serial killer, possibly responsible for the murders of over 60 prostitutes from downtown Vancouver.

8. Edmonton’s Missing Women

Not to be outdone by their neighbors in Vancouver, Edmonton has its own missing women. A task force from the Western province has been handed 123 cases to investigate in relation to the unsolved murders of 20 area prostitutes.

9. Etiquette 101:

If you throw a party, don’t forget to invite the guests!

In November, Justice Canada hosts a victims of crime conference. Dubbed, Lessons Learned from Victims of Crime the event was unique on two accounts:

1. It was the first of its kind in Canada.

2. The DOG neglected to invite victims.

Left to explain the gaff of the Ministry, then Deputy Justice Minister Richard Mosley was given a deus ex machina when outgoing Prime Minister, Jean Chretien swiftly promoted him to the Supreme Court. Talk about your exit strategies. Let’s hope future conferences will be more inclusive.

10. Nutcase Watch

December 31, 2003 – Only 553 days left until Karla Homolka is released from prison.

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Surete du Quebec Charged With Gross Incompetence

So get this. A guy is driving home from work when he notices an SQ cruiser weaving through traffic at 120 kmh. The SQ cruiser pulls over to the side of the road, so the citizen does the same and attempts to narc on the SQ officer for his poor driving. Sensing his undoing, the SQ officer gets out of the cruiser and proceeds to issue the guy a ticket for speeding and tailgating. The officer then attempts to confiscate the citizen’s license and registration, thus forcing the guy to break the law by driving without the proper paperwork. Only in Montreal!

It took nearly two years for a judge to recognize the utter stupidity here; he charged officer Carl Thibault with unethical behavior and total abuse of his position of authority.

Ladies and gentleman… Quebec’s finest, the Surete du Quebec!

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Jury recommends 25 years

I’m in shock. I can’t believe a Canadian jury actually recommended the maximum sentence of 25 years without parole for convicted killer Robert Ivey.

At a pre-sentencing hearing Ivey tried to prove what a good guy he is. Sure, he might have stabbed 42-year-old Robert Clement twice in the heart, but at least he was neat about it. Ivey stressed that when he was done he tried to clean up Clement’s Montreal apartment, and hide his body to spare the victim any embarrassment.

Jeeesh!

Any bets on the judge carrying through on the jury’s recommendation?

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THE WEEK IN CRIME

My favorite story this week comes from Quebec and concerns the endlessly tarnished reputation of their provincial police force, the Surete du Quebec. The Supreme Court of Canada overturned the murder convictions of Billy Taillefer and Hugues Duguay, two young friends who spent 10 years in prison for the 1990 rape and murder of 14-year-old Sandra Gaudet. Gaudret went missing after walking home from her boyfriend’s home on the night of March 9, 1990. Her body was found, almost naked and partly buried in the snow, next to a logging road near Val d’Or, Quebec. She had been strangled.

In their ruling, the Supreme Court cited the circumstances surrounding the so-called confessions by the accused – confessions Taillefer and Duguay said were dictated to them, then beaten out of them by the SQ. What’s more, the jury never got to hear witnesses who said they saw two men in their 50s with a shovel – Taillefer and Duguay were in their 20s at the time – along the logging road at the time of the murder.

Lest we forget, the SQ is currently under investigation over allegations of evidence fabrication in the Julie Boisvenu homicide case.

All of this begs the question, who killed Sandra Gaudet? No one knows. And we will probably never know. By the time you read this; if you google her story you’ll no doubt come up empty. Such is the situation in La Belle Province – Quebec is high on sensation, but short on collective memory when it comes to crime.

For what it’s worth, I can think of one other young girl who was found in the snow in March, raped, partially clothed, strangled and next to a logging road. The crime scenes of Sandra Gaulet and Louise Camirand are 13 years and 300 miles apart – still, it gives one pause for thought.

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This weeks families of victims got the chance to speak out at the sentencings of Green River serial killer Gary Ridgeway and teen sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. Victims impact statements are supposed to be a triumph of the victims rights movement. Forgive me if I remain unimpressed. A chance to yell at a guy in court: That’s all you get? The opportunity to be tabloid fodder for Extra and Inside Edition? It hardly seems equitable for a life taken. If it were my sibling, or parent, or significant other I’d want something a little more private, I little more on my terms. Leave me alone in a room with the offender. Allow me to be as personal and intimate with them as they were with my loved one during their last moments on this earth.

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Yes, I think I will plug Eric Muller’s blog, Is That Legal? -not because he was gracious enough to write about my blog, but because Muller (a law professor at UNC Chapel Hill) is very smart and very funny. Check out the story of convicted wife murdered, Michael Peterson, who is now trying to say that a wayward owl was responsible for pushing his wife down the steps of their posh Durham domicile.

Meanwhile in British Columbia, Robert Picton will face seven additional first-degree murder charges, bringing the total number of murder charges against the Port Coquitlam Pig farmer to twenty-two. Once again, because of a publication ban the names of the victims of these crimes are to remain anonymous. I’m all for protecting the rights of victims, but the unintended result here is while Picton’s reputation grows the victims of his crimes are reduced to a statistic. Recall that Picton is suspected of murdering over 60 women from the downtown eastside of Vancouver.

Finally, if you missed it, Canada has a new Minister of Justice. Irwin Colter snuck into office last week. We won’t let him forget that his predecessor, Martin Cauchon asked for a frank criticism of the DOJ in its treatment of victims issues; nor that former Solicitor General, Wayne Easter recently cited a 2001 national survey in which victims overwhelming requested more opportunities to be included and consulted in matters of criminal justice.

Comments? JohnAllore@earthlink.net

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THE MONTREAL MASSACRE
DECEMBER 6, 1989

NINE MORE LESSONS TO LEARN:

1. After 21 months, the excavation of the Robert Picton farm – a project the Globe and Mail so sensitively dubbed the “Pig Dig” – ended in British Columbia last month. Charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder, Picton may be responsible for the deaths of over 60 women.

2. An Edmonton task force has been handed 123 cases to investigate in relation to the murders of 20 area prostitutes.

3. In Iqaluit, Mark King Jeffrey faces a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the death of Jennifer Naglingiq, 13, whose body was found during the first few minutes after midnight on Dec. 6, 2002.

4. The University of Saskatchewan decides to use a December 6th memorial to call attention to a sexual assault that occured on university grounds. A spokesman for the university women’s centre alleges campus security is ignoring other incidents of violence on campus.

5. A 14-year-old girl from Candiac, Quebec is sexually assaulted, beaten and left for dead on the South shore of Montreal. Her two teenage assailants ask her how she would prefer to die; strangled, beaten or drowned.

6. Four months since the murder of Ardeth Wood and Ottawa Chief of Police Vince Bevan still is no closer to solving this crime.

7. Justice delayed in Quebec as the Hugo Bernier trial is postponed for another month. Bernier is charged with the 2001 murder of Julie Boisvenu in downtown Sherbrooke.

8. Since his arrest in February of 2002, Guy Croteau is still awaiting his pre-trial hearing in the 1987 murder of Sophie Landry. The 14-year-old Landry was stabbed over 170 times and dumped in a cornfield in St-Roch l’Achigan, Quebec.

9. In Nova Scotia, Gregory Plamondon is sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping and slashing the face of his ex-girlfriend. He could be released from prison in two years. Plamondon, who acted as his own lawyer during the trial, cross-examined, and further traumatized the victim for 6 1/2 hours.

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