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Editorials

What happens next?

Friday, June 06, 2014   by: David Root

The events that have unfolded in Moncton, NB, over the past two days have been shocking.

Many have asked how someone could simply walk down the street carrying firearms, and just open fire when confronted. Sadly, as we have seen, it is all too easy.

No doubt some of our American friends might suggest that had the average citizen been armed, Justin Borque would have been (literally) stopped dead in his tracks.

Perhaps. But it is equally likely that there could have been more innocent victims, had any citizens aimed guns at him.

As it was, he opened fire on RCMP officers as they approached him. There was no opportunity to “talk him down,” to find out why he was walking the streets carrying weapons. He simply started shooting.

There have been, and will continue to be, suggestions that he suffered from mental illness, and various reasons why he engaged in this destructed behaviour. These reasons, whatever they are, are valid. But they do not excuse his actions.

An entire city of 70,000 — the same size as the Sault — was in lockdown for 30 hours. Schools, businesses and offices closed, transit pulled from the roads, hospitals locked-down.

Residents were asked to not communicate police movements on social media, so as to not provide any information to Borque.

I cannot imagine what those 30 hours were like.

Fortunately, Borque was captured, and the emergency has ended.

Now, the grieving can begin, and healing can start.

It won’t be easy, nor will it be quick.

 

What happens next?

 

Following the announcement of his capture, social and news media websites were filled with comments. Some expressed their gratitude to the RCMP for, as is their tradition, “getting their man.” 

Others expressed their disappointment that Borque was still alive, that Police had not shot him on the spot. Still others suggested that spending taxpayer dollars to feed and house him for the rest of his life would be a waste, and a prompt execution would be a far better alternative.

I understand their emotion, but I cannot agree with their positions on this.

I am proud to live in Canada, in a society that no longer practices capital punishment. I am proud that we have a Justice system that, while not perfect, is fair.

One of the hallmarks of a fair and just society is an open and fair Justice system, one that we turn to to mediate our disputes, and to deliberate and pass judgment upon those who do not follow our laws.

In other words, we no longer take the law into our own hands.

I will admit that at one time, just over fifteen years ago, I wrote a fairly impassioned article supporting the death penalty for those who would kill law enforcement personnel: police or corrections officers. 

My thinking at the time was that anyone who would choose to kill those whose duty it was to protect the citizens would choose to kill anyone, and that death would be the only proper penalty.

Since then, however, I have reconsidered the issue.

I do not believe anyone — individuals nor institutions — have the right to take another’s life, regardless of what crime they may have committed.

People talk of “justice” being done when a criminal is executed. This is not justice, it is revenge

Capital punishment is not punishment.

When we broke rules as children, we were perhaps spanked, or sent to our rooms, or grounded, or had some privileges taken away. This afforded us an opportunity to reconsider our behaviour and perhaps make changes so that we could avoid punishment in the future. 

The added benefit was that we learned, hopefully, that what we did was wrong.

By no means am I suggesting we send Borque to his room without dinner, and tell him to think about what he’s done. This is well beyond a childish indiscretion.

But to put him to death is no punishment whatsoever.

Leaving aside any arguments about heaven and Hell… 

When one’s life is ended, that’s it, it’s over. What punishment is that?

Sure, the moments leading up to death might be frightening, but then it’s over.

I say a better fate would be to sentence him to life in prison — real life, until he dies of natural causes — with no possibility of parole.

The families, friends and colleagues of those who were killed will have to live with their loss and pain for the rest of their lives. 

Why should Borque not have to spend just as long locked in a small, concrete-block room with bars on the doors and windows, knowing he will never again set foot outside the prison walls as a free man.

That is punishment.

Capital punishment is not a deterrent for others.

Yes, some will argue that statistics show that violent crime in jurisdictions that have, or have reinstated, capital punishment have declined. But that does not prove it is a deterrent. If it were, there would be NO violent crime.

No, to me true punishment comes from an extended period of isolation from society. For most crimes, that time might vary depending on the severity, but for murder, the only appropriate sentence is life.

What happens next?

I was truly saddened by comments from some people on both social media and on news sites that were derogatory towards the Police.

I know there are people who believe all Police are corrupt, or for whatever reason have a real hate-on for cops. Fine. I don’t agree, but you’re entitled to your opinion.

But there are times to articulate that opinion, and times to just remain silent.

A news article and public discussion about the wanton murder of three police officers is not the appropriate time.

Whatever your opinion of the Police, it is undeniable that in a situation such as Moncton, they will put their lives on the line to protect others.

At 7:30 pm on Wednesday the call came in that there was an armed man in fatigues walking down the streets of Moncton. Police responded and, before anything else could happen, five officers were shot, three fatally.

There are few who would willingly put themselves in harm’s way.

We might say that would would defend our families and loved ones, and would willingly put ourselves in harm’s way to do so. But would we do this for strangers?

Police officers do. 

I, for one, am very grateful for the women and men who put on the uniform and, on a daily basis, put their lives at risk to make my community, and indeed my country, a safer place to live.

Heroes in Life.

 

But… that’s just my opinion.

 

 

 

 

Comments
16
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Frio 6/8/2014 12:09:02 PM Report

"Spending taxpayer dollars to feed and house him for the rest of his life would be a waste, and a prompt execution would be a far better alternative". Looking long term at this situation where there was a deliberate ambush and execution of 3 police officers and the attempt to murder 2 others he deserved the same fate.. He has issues with authority and who do you think in going to be exposed to him and his demented ways 24/7 in prison? The prison guards are going to have to make sure he is living comfortably with all his rights and no responsibility. He will be doing a life sentence, he has nothing more to lose no matter how horrendous his behaviour toward staff can be. He can assault, murder, do whatever he wants and any further criminal charges against him mean nothing, only a waste of taxpayer money for court time, and legal aid to pay his lawyers, while prison staff and their families suffer from his actions . A police bullet would have been the closest, most cost effective means of justice in a case like this where there is no question of his guilt in a triple murder, and attempted murder 2 more police officers.
right wing 6/8/2014 1:45:14 PM Report

Sam C

Canada does not have a "life-without-parole option"
The most he can get is life with no chance of parole for 25 years.
That means that upon entering his Fifties, the low life piece of crap can then apply for parole at every opportunity.
Will he get it, no.
But a hearing still must be held each time he applies and the ridiculous cost of the proceeding paid by the tax payer.
I share your sentiments on capital punishment Sam and I have also done a reverse on my stance.
That been said Canada does need to sharpen its "Justice system" so that punishments truly reflect the crimes that have been committed.
Sam C 6/8/2014 7:53:05 PM Report

Frio... no, "a police bullet" would not have been appropriate, and the Mounties showed incredible restraint in bringing him in alive.

Dead on the spot, he does not get to face justice, as I outlined above.

Yeah, maybe he will be a horrible, violent prisoner. But each and every hour he is awake he will be fully aware that he is, and always will be, a prisoner. THAT is punishment.

- David Root
Frio 6/9/2014 11:01:40 AM Report

Sam C..."he will be fully aware that he is, and always will be, a prisoner. THAT is punishment"..Those who are the victims, the wives and children, and extended families that resulted from his cold blooded, ambush murder of 3 police officers will be forced to suffer much more "punishment" than he ever will. They will forever be prisoner to the fact that he is still alive, being taken care of, having what will amount to millions of dollars spent on his legal rights, health, food and accommodations etc. while their loved ones are lying in their graves.
They will be painfully reminded that he is still creating misery and pain with any news of his life, his appeals, his parole applications, his "rights" are being accorded to him while they are left to cope on their own with the forever, senseless loss of their loved ones. A bullet would have been the closest thing to justice and closure for all involved, and most cost effective. It serves absolutely no purpose to spend millions to keep him alive, when death he so freely dished out was what he deserved.
Sam C 6/9/2014 10:20:24 PM Report

Frio... I cannot speak for the families. In fact, I doubt many of us can.

The fact that they will spend the rest of their lives keenly aware of the loss is the very reason I believe that keeping him in alive and in prison is the right thing to do.

To have him put to death is, as I have suggested, not "justice," it is revenge.

If it was me, I would rather know that he was alive, stuck behind bars, never again setting foot outside the prison walls, matching day for day the loss I was feeling.


Sam C 6/9/2014 10:23:28 PM Report

... to put him to death simply lets him off the hook, paying the price for his crimes in an instance, while the families of his victims spend the rest of their lives grieving.
right wing 6/10/2014 8:14:40 AM Report

Frio

You should do some reading on what the families of murder victims state about the death penalty.
The majority do not support it.
Nothing makes headlines and gives celebrity status to a criminal like one that is fighting a death sentence on death row.
The families get to relive the entire details of the crime each time and the appeals can drag on for decades.
Take a look at Paul Bernardo, that's where this shooter is headed, locked away in solitary confinement while he gradually loses his mind.
Now that is punishment.
Frio 6/10/2014 2:10:41 PM Report

What you want is revenge or vengence, to keep him alive for years, as "punishment"..That is a total a waste of time, money, resources, even air when he deserved to live not a minute more..Most prisoners blame everybody else for their problems, their issues, they don't lose any sleep, they don't have a conscience bothering them worrying about their victims and their families. To have been shot on sight like he did to the police officers is swift and fitting justice.. If you personally had to look after him for the rest of his life in prison, instead of having him locked away, out of your sight and mind you would quickly believe differently. We are not talking about the death penalty we are talking about the murderer receiving what he deserved, in the most cost effective, final, deserving manner that would bring closure for the families. No court appearances, no appeals, no parole hearings, no thoughts of him being given all the necessities of life except with no responsibility to anybody. All he would be losing is the freedom to walk the streets, and if that was really important to him he wouldn't have been out shooting anybody.
Twist Of Fate 6/11/2014 8:14:11 AM Report

While I can understand the stance you take in your article I have to utterly disagree that the current state of the jail system is in any way a punishment. Inmates live better lives in jail than they really deserve. Why should inmates have access to any form of entertainment? Why should those amongst us that have committed crimes be rewarded with fully stocked fitness centers or internet access? What ever happened to the punishment aspect of prisons. Why are these inmates treated so well after they have done so wrong?
There should be absolutely no creature comforts within the walls of a prison, there should be some real punishment for the crimes they committed.
To simply lock someone up and say that they are being punished is really no different than sending a child to their room to play video games and watch TV.
Bring back the hard labor aspect of prison life take away all of the entertainment and comfort aspects of prisons and maybe there will be a deterrent to crime.
You may be right in that killing them is not a punishment but locking them up with TV, internet, video games, movies, gyms ect is in no way a punishment either.
Sam C 6/11/2014 3:13:49 PM Report

Frio... I have made my point in the article, and added a few follow-up comments. I am obviously not going to change your opinion.

We will have to agree to disagree.

Twist... i agree that prison is not the harsh environment that it once was. I'm not convinced we should go back to hard, forced labour, but sitting around watching TV and earning a college diploma certainly doesn't seem like much of a hardship.

Still, even watching TV inside a prison, they are still inside a prison. There is no going for a walk, or a drive in the country, or any of the "freedoms" we take for granted.
Frio 6/11/2014 5:02:27 PM Report

Sam C, You have your opinion, and you want to waste millions of dollars, ($151,000 per year and ever increasing for maximun security inmate) on a totally unproductive waste of skin keeping him alive. He has more rights as a prisoner than you have as a tax paying citizen. He will get all free legal representation and costs for anything he can think of to challenge his conviction, incarceration, and legal rights. He gets first rate medical, meds,dental,psychiatric, university education, recreation, food, shelter,clothing entertainment, and if he thinks he is being refused anything, he has all kinds of "rights", a complaint processes and protection as a prisoner. He will live a lot better than seniors in a long term care home. How did it work for Carla Homolka, murder of her own sister? Free University education, lesbian lovers in prison, now living free in the sunny, warm Carribean, having children. How about Ashley Smith who wanted to commit suicide for years but had to be kept alive, assaulted numerous staff who had to enter her cell and keep her alive each and every day and then a multi-million dollar inguiry to find out why she died? Todays Jail and prison is all about "rehabilitation", they are no longer places of punishment. Millions of $$$$ wasted on imprisonment for "punishment" of many besides the murderer or a one dollar bullet and the problem was solved once and for all for everybody?
Twist Of Fate 6/12/2014 8:15:54 AM Report

@SamC
So in your opinion as long as someone is locked inside a building that is punishment enough? These are people that broke the laws of this country and have been deemed guilty of those crimes why should there be any form of comfort at all? Why should they be granted an education while the youth that is trying to make a life for themselves in an honest productive way are saddled with the burden of ever increasing tuition fees?
It seems to me that inmates have it way too good and you think that is punishment?
Sam C 6/12/2014 12:12:25 PM Report

Frio... has Carla Homolka re-offended? perhaps her story, that Bernardo forced her to commit those atrocities, has a ring of truth?

But, you are WAY off-base referring to Ashley Smith... damn right there was an inquiry to find out why correctional officers WATCHED her commit suicide.

She herself requested a transfer to a psychiatric facility, a request that was denied.

She was in prison because of numerous minor offenses that occurred when she was still a minor, and was transferred to an adult facility upon turning 18.

That is a bad example, Frio... unless you're suggesting a bullet is the solution for mental illness, too?


Twist... yes, locking someone up, denying them their freedom IS punishment enough. That, frankly, is the whole point of having prisons.
Twist Of Fate 6/12/2014 12:20:50 PM Report

But are they supposed to be prisons or all expense paid retreats? Giving prisoners all the luxuries they want sure does not seem to be too punishing. They should be required to sit in their cells and think about how they have done wrong not spend their time getting free education and playing video games.
Frio 6/13/2014 12:15:28 AM Report

Sam C..Homolka conned the crown into a sweetheart deal when she was an active participant in the murders and just as guilty as Bernardo and should have received the same sentence and still be in prison. Ashley Smith I used as an example of an out of control inmate who assaulted staff constantly who where required to come to her aid to prevent her from killing herself. Her actions, her assaults on staff resulted in criminal charges that kept increasing her sentence until she had penitentiary time (2 years +) and was moved at 18 when she became an adult to federal prison. Mentally ill or not her attempting suicide and death wish would have been the same in a psychiatric facility and staff would have been assaulted there too. If she had managed to take her own life as she wanted to in the beginning, nobody else would have been injured or punished by her actions. She would have solved her own problems in a more cost effective way.. It is not a requirement of employment to be anybodies punching bag and assaulted . The employer is responsible for their employees, they can't put them in continual harms way without protections and recourse for their health and safety. In fact when smoke free workplaces where legislated into being in Ontario in the 1990's for health and safety reasons, jails where exempt from that legislation. So the correctional officers had to continue working in smoke filled, unhealthy conditions, treated as lesser class employees than all other government workers, and even lesser consideration than inmates because the inmates continued to have the right to smoke in jails. Locking somebody up when there was that moment to provide instant justice results in more punishment for the victim, their families and those who have to care for them with kid gloves until they are released or die. It is vengence you want and don't care who all suffers as long as you don't have to deal with it.Living in prison is relative luxury, with 24 hour a day service is not punishment for the murderer, it more like a reward from lifes responsibilies, to have to earn a living, to cope with all the hassles, decisions and challenges of everyday life outside of prison. A senior be confined to a long term care home is more dangerous and punishment than the conditions for a murderer sitting in prison until death comes.
MYPOINT 6/15/2014 9:12:13 AM Report

I am NOT saying that the guy who killed those 3 RCMP officers and wounded 2 other RCMP officers does not deserve to be put to death. In that case, it was obvious that he is guilty and maybe we should have our Government rewrite the laws to cover such situations?

As we all know however, there have been some cases where an innocent person has been sent to prison for a murder that he or she was not guilty of in the first place. In fact, some of them have spent a considerable amount of time ( 20+ years or more ) in prison for a crime they did NOT commit. If we simply put all murderers to death with absolutely no exceptions whatsoever and then we somehow find out later that they were actually, in fact innocent of that murder, how do we give them back their life? ( Imagine if it was YOU who was the innocent party for example? )

I do believe however that there should NOT be any 'luxuries' given to any prisoners other than the 'basic necessities of life'. It seems that like most other Governments, ours has been drawn into the 'rehabilitation ' idea as opposed to the 'punishment' aspect when it comes to our prisons.

When I was a child and was sent to my room for misbehaving, my room consisted of a bed, a dresser and a tiny desk for me to do my homework on. Today, a kid's room usually has a TV, a computer, video games etc. and many of the kids even have their own phone or a cell phone so they can talk with their friends etc. So when this is the case ( usually ), how is the kid being punished? In fact, it might be a better idea to tell the kid that they must sit in the living room watching TV with the parents as their punishment. Most kids would hate that idea and it would actually be some form of punishment as opposed to being sent to their rooms that include all the things that most kids can not live without today lol.

Happy Fathers day to all Dads.

As always, your views may differ :)
Comments
16
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