The Robert Latimer Case - No Basis for Clemency

    TORONTO, Dec. 18 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association for Community Living
(CACL) does not support the call by the Civil Liberties Union (CLU) for
clemency for Robert Latimer. As a national Association representing over
400 local and 13 Provincial/Territorial Associations for Community Living,
which together advocate for hundreds of thousands of Canadians with
intellectual disabilities and their families, we are deeply dismayed by the
rationale the CLU provides for this recommendation. The Supreme Court of
Canada has clearly ruled in the case. Tracy Latimer's father murdered her, a
crime he refuses to acknowledge, and for which he expresses no remorse.
    We understand that this case has struck at the heart of Canadians'
understanding of what it means to live in a just, caring and compassionate
society. We understand, if we judge by the polls and reactions to our position
on this case, that the majority of Canadians believe that Robert Latimer acted
in the best interests of his daughter. We appreciate that for many this case
has raised awareness about the need for more comprehensive supports for
Canadians with disabilities, caregivers and families. We have heard many say
that this happened not because Tracy had a disability, but because her father
was so concerned and compassionate about her pain. We also know that a 12-year
old girl was murdered by her father. Bendina Miller, CACL President said "No
amount of anguish, concern, care on his part justifies the taking of her life.
Even if one supported euthanasia, this is irrelevant to the Robert Latimer
case. Tracy was not dying. There are always other options - as the medical
evidence in the case made clear, and as had been offered in the form of foster
parenting and other services."
    Parents and families with children and family members with intellectual
disabilities, and advocates across the country, have been deeply affected by
the negative reaction in the media and general public to our position that
Tracy Latimer deserved to live. We will not compromise on that position, nor
will we compromise on our position that Canadians with disabilities and their
families by and large are not receiving the supports and services they need,
and largely do not live in the welcoming and supportive communities they
deserve. But the divide this case has awakened in the public consciousness of
Canadians suggests there is something deeper at issue here - about what it
means to be human in the 21st century, what will count as full personhood,
what will count as the basic values and protections on which Canadians, all
Canadians, can count on.
    This debate is upon us, and if the demographic trends reported by
Statistics Canada at the beginning of December are any indication, the debate
is likely to intensify. There is an increasing proportion of people with
significant disabilities in Canada, because of the aging of the population and
advances in medical technology that enable people to survive a range of
conditions, injury and illness. More and more of us will live with pain, and
advances in technology will hopefully help us all deal with that. But
fundamental to building a truly just, compassionate, and caring society is
that we hold true to the ideal that all humans are deserving of the basic
protection, support, nourishment and care that make life possible and worth
living, even under the most difficult of conditions. Without that belief,
without those principles, we risk a slide into a society that justifies some
of us deciding for others what lives are worth living and under what
conditions. CACL will always confront that risk, in the name of a Canada that
values inclusion and recognizes the immense diversity of human life. Which is
why we cannot support a call for clemency in this case.

For further information:

For further information: CACL Executive Vice-President, Michael Bach,
(416) 209-7942

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