EDITORIALS, LOCAL NEWS

#MMIW PROTESTERS – Time to Re-calibrate

WPS Superintendent Danny Smyth & PIO Cst Jason Michalyshyn (Photo JGJ)
WPS Superintendent Danny Smyth & PIO Cst Jason Michalyshyn at Rinelle Harper press conference (Photo JGJ)

I’ve followed the #rinelleharper assault case with great interest.

That interest peaked yesterday when a Caroline Barghout tweet left me scratching my head.

TWITTER SCREEN CAPTURE
TWITTER SCREEN CAPTURE

A “protest” organized by “Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women,” was set for November 12, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. at Portage & Main.

I wondered what the protestors were going to protest.

Were they going to protest Government inaction in the face of calls for a National Inquiry?

Were they going to protest the Police for alleged racialized investigative indifference?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

It seems the organizers neglected one crucial aspect of any well planned protest.  They neglected to include the victim’s family.

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TWITTER SCREEN CAPTURE

It wasn’t long after the news of the cancelled rally hit social media that the Winnipeg Police Service announced they were holding a press conference to break news of arrests in the case.

The announcement had one Twitter follower wondering;

“Instead of a protest, I wonder if there will be a rally to encourage #RinelleHarper in her recovery and to thank the WPS for great work/arrest?”

Interesting question I thought.

“I hope people realize how hard we work these cases,” one officer said.  “We get tired of people thinking we don’t give a shit when girls like this get killed or assaulted.”

I feel his pain.

I was often disgusted by accusations of investigative indifference when it came to crimes committed against Aboriginal people.  Not only did the suggestions have no basis in reality, they were offensive to those of us who sacrificed much in our personal lives to resolve these crimes.

Many of the activists who fuel the racial divide are vocal proponents for a National inquiry into the Missing & Murdered Women issue.

The same people who tried to make Tina Fontaine a poster girl to justify their cause when her manner of death is only represented in 8% of the killings of Aboriginal women.

The fact is, 90% of the murders of Aboriginal women in this Country are caused as a direct result of domestic or familial violence.  It only follows, most of these women knew their killers.

The problem is the facts don’t mesh well with the manufactured script.

That script suggests missing and murdered Aboriginal women are disappearing or being killed because of some mysterious happenings or inexplicable phenomena.

Why bother letting the facts get in the way of a good protest.

The facts of the Rinelle Harper case didn’t seem to get in the way of the activists who had their placards ready and their bull horns tuned to launch a protest in her name.

I’m sorry, Rinelle Harper and Tina Fontaine are not fair representations of the plight of the majority of victimized Aboriginal women.  Random acts of violence is the exception while domestic and familial violence continues to be the rule.

The public breathes a collective sigh of relief now that the evil men behind the crime can no longer secret themselves under the comforting cloak of anonymity.

I find it interesting how their identity only proves to complicate the case.

The perpetrators are young Aboriginal men.

I suspect the police investigation will be thorough with little left to chance.  The investigation, interrogation and forensic analysis will surely afford high quality irrefutable evidence for the prosecution.

The public outcry for meaningful consequences for the perpetrators continues to rage on social media.

Enter Gladue.

If convicted, both offenders may be the benefactors of a reduced sentenced based on the Gladue principle.  Gladue is a sentencing principle that recognizes the plight of Aboriginal people and the many issues they face in Canadian society and criminal justice.

Issues like racism, discrimination and over-representation in crime, gangs, prison and child welfare systems.  Social issues like physical or sexual abuse, child welfare removal, substance abuse, FASD, health and developmental issues and the effects of residential schools.

How ironic a principle enacted to benefit Aboriginal offenders might ultimately be used to undermine justice for a sixteen (16) year old Aboriginal girl who was violated in a profoundly abhorrent way.

The painful irony didn’t escape the attention of Winnipeg Sun columnist Tom Brodbeck.

Twitter Screen Capture
TWITTER SCREEN CAPTURE

Make no mistake, offenders like this deserve to feel the full force and effect of the law.

Time will tell.

On the up side, the Rinelle Harper case once again proved the police are not the enemy.

The officers working the case showed us what the thin blue line is truly all about.  It’s about good vs evil and the men and women who dedicate themselves to keep these powerful forces apart.

#MMIW protest organizers would be well served to start applying a modicum of critical thinking before they try to anoint their next victim to support their cause.

Not every case of Aboriginal victimization demands a public protest.

Sometimes bad people do bad things.

It’s called crime.

Maybe it’s time for the activists to take a step back, recalibrate and let the police do their job.

THE LAW

Under section 42 (2) (o) of the Youth Criminal Justice Act the maximum penalty for Attempt Murder and / or Aggravated Sexual Assault is three (3) years of custody and supervision.

In October, 2014, a seventeen (17) year old-young offender in Edmonton received an adult sentence of nine (9) years incarceration after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault and robbery.

The victim was a sixty-two (62) year old woman who suffered a savage attack that caused horrific physical and emotional trauma.

13 Comments

  1. John;

    Interesting idea….

    Thank you for commenting.

  2. For all those who call for a “National Public Enquiry” should realize that it will only confirm the obvious. I would personally call upon the Assembly of First Nations to hold their own enquiry conducted solely by First Nations peoples. Any other way will be considered skewed by the Police, Courts, various Government agencies and offices. It is a “No Win”
    situation any other way!!

  3. Thanks for the fair and responsible reporting. I wish your column was on the front page of every newspaper across Canada. Perhaps it would motivate the silent majority to speak out for the reform required in our justice, and social support systems that together are the fastest growing money pits in Canada. I acknowledge that it would be a huge undertaking to change these areas but it seems like on a daily basis we are reminded of how inefficient and ineffective they are. Both of those broken entities of our government are huge factors in violent crime and our ever rising taxes. It’s time for a Change.

  4. Steve, I agree, many people deserve our respect and praise for their courageous life saving efforts and the quick resolution of this horrific crime.

    Thank you for commenting.

  5. Steve, the time certainly has come for Aboriginal Leaders to take a hard look at themselves and their leadership and start accepting the inconvenient truth.

    That domestic violence is the main culprit thats injuring Aboriginal women not some mysterious phenomenon.

    We can combat domestic violence with education, social programs and a real commitment for change.

    Thats never going to happen if we continue to deny our reality.

    Thank you for commenting.

  6. Mateo, the inconvenient truth can be difficult to deal with.

    Thank you for commenting.

  7. Phil, clever analogy….

    Made me laugh out loud…

  8. Joe, you are correct…

    Reports indicate 90% of the women are killed by people who are known to them.

    It’s called domestic violence.

  9. James I had to come back here a second time to post my thoughts. I think your article says it so right about the professional protesters and activists jumping the gun on the protest parade. I must admit I’m getting tired of the charade and exploitation of these women. It seems a bunch of them want to push some kind of agenda even if they have no facts to back it up. Also for them not to ask family for permission shows haw callous they are. Hey James I do like a good mystery once in a while I will admit. But these protesters must be aware they are making fools of themselves. And the truth is they know the answers to their questions. And I surely want to give praise to the WPS and all those involved in saving Rinelle’s Life. Thank you so much!

  10. When chief David Harper was asked about aboriginal on aboriginal violence he fast tracked the topic really quick. Yes I’m sure he was hoping he could have blamed the white man again. Sorry chief your own people are killing innocent girls and women. No playing the race card today. Come back another day and try again. And let’s be honest what the hell is the mayor going to do and help this cause. He’s the darn mayor not a Frickin social worker. I don’t like it one bit that young girls are been murdered but one better start looking within.

  11. Chief Harper wants the justice system to have more teeth when sentencing criminals guilty of crimes such as this, however, he makes no connection to Gladue. He wants his cake and eat it too.

  12. The focus should go to the root causes highlighted by the RCMP report on missing and murdered women a lot more, and a lot less to the Al Sharptons of the North.

  13. The “leaders” and the professional protestors only bring up race when it suits them. It is painfully obvious they want a “white” serial killer to blame for all the horrible things that happen to Native females.

    Newsflash. It isn’t going to happen.

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