Does a killer enjoy the right to privacy, even more than his victim? In most parts of the world, the established dictum is anybody is innocent till proven guilty. Does this gets too stretched in case of Greyhound bus killer, Vincent Li, liable to be convicted by Winnipeg courts?
Li stabbed and Cannibalized Tim, a 22 year old worker who was sleeping next to him. Li, was is schizophrenic was held not criminally responsible for the killing earlier this spring and now his fate hangs
in the hands of the province’s Criminal Code Review Board, a nine-member group of lawyers and psychiatrists and lay people appointed by the Manitoba government.
Because of his illness, public may never know if Mr. Li is hospitalized or released as the review board’s practice is to treat these decisions as private in deference to a patient’s right to confidentiality.
Despite furious editorials, snap public-opinion polls and a genuine outcry from ordinary Canadians, review board is unmoved to change its decision.
What would you call this? Is Canada the best country in the world to grant you the privacy or has the argument stretched too far. To my mind, such fundamental rights as available to ordinary Canadians need to be denied to criminals to make Canada a safe country.
The board chair John Stefaniuk hinted at review of the decision and said that the board will try to be “a bit more nuanced” in deciding what and how much can be made public.
No disrespect meant to Li’s illness but it is only in Canada that it is possible to contemplate that the author of a gruesome killing to have greater rights as a mental-health consumer than the fellow whose head he cut off.
Mr. Li, normally gentle, was in the midst of a major psychotic break when he attacked Mr. McLean. The disease’s most frequent victims are the poor sons of bitches who suffer from it, who end up alone and homeless on the streets, who tend to kill themselves at a frightening rate. Mr. Li may have been the most not criminally responsible man in the country. He deserves compassion as much as the public deserves protection from him, and part of that protection is surely knowing what the board decides to do with him and why.
In Canada, we save those ringing sorts of words – “Freedom of Information” and “Access to Information” and the like – for the long titles of the very legislation designed to keep us all in the dark. Much of the time, it’s where we’d rather be.