By Hilary White

VANCOUVER, February 28, 2008 ( – Robert Latimer, the Saskatchewan farmer who murdered his 12 year-old daughter Tracy in 1993, has been released on day parole. His lawyer, Jason Gratl, president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, told media that Latimer is “delighted” to be released. Gratl told Canada AM that Latimer “has not wavered” from his decision to kill Tracy, who suffered from a severe form of cerebral palsy. Latimer spent seven years of a ten-year sentence in prison for the murder.

Latimer has never, in any of his trial appearances or in any venue, expressed any remorse for the killing, steadfastly maintaining instead that he acted rightly.

Jim Derksen of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities told CTV News, “I would hope that he does not continue to assert the righteousness of the crime he committed, and that no one would make the mistake of thinking that our society condones the murder of (the disabled).”

Ted Kuntz, a past-president of the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network, told CTV News that the danger of the Latimer case was that Canadians had “misplaced” their compassion onto Latimer and not with his daughter. Kuntz said his release is “a message about whether it is OK to kill your child because they have a disability.”

The two conditions of his parole say that Latimer must not have “responsibility for, or make decisions for, any individuals who are severely disabled” and he must receive “psychological counselling” to “address any personal/emotional issues”.

Latimer has consistently claimed that he killed his daughter, by placing her in his farm truck and connecting the exhaust pipe to the cabin, in order to relieve her suffering. Pro-life advocates, however, have argued that Latimer’s interest was in relieving his own difficulties with his daughter’s disability. The fact that he has become the figurehead of the Canadian euthanasia movement, they point out, has for many bolstered this conclusion.

Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) called his early release a “tragedy.”

“Robert Latimer has expressed no remorse for the murder of his daughter,” Hughes said. “He even asked to be released in Ottawa, which the Parole Board has complied with, purportedly so he could lobby the government to accept his point of view.”

The Crown brief presented at the second trial in the case said that Tracy “enjoyed outings, one of which was to the circus, where she smiled when the horses went by.”

She was receiving treatment for her disabilities and pain but the family refused to have a feeding tube connected so that pain medication could be administered more effectively. Tracy attended a school for disabled children and court documents said she responded to visits by her family, “smiling and looking happy to see them”.

The brief said, “There is no dispute that through her life, Tracy at times suffered considerable pain. As well, the quality of her life was limited by her severe disability. But the pain she suffered was not unremitting, and her life had value and quality.”

Since his arrest for the gassing of Tracy, Robert Latimer has been the lightening rod for euthanasia activists trying to change Canadian law to allow “mercy killing”. A majority of the Canadian mainstream press has lent tacit support to this cause, consistently using terms like “mercy killing” in describing his case. Ian Mulgrew, in an editorial appearing in today’s Vancouver Sun called Latimer’s imprisonment, “a festering wrong”.

“Latimer should have been released long ago,” Mulgrew wrote.

But CLC says the release of Latimer sends an “unfortunate but clear signal that the lives of people with disabilities are not equally valued.”

This signal was reinforced by comments from Latimer’s lawyer who called the decision of the Appeal Division of the National Parole Board, one of “wisdom and compassion.”

Mary Ellen Douglas, National Organizer of CLC said, “Defenseless disabled people need protection from those who would take the law into their own hands and decide who should live and who should die.”

Campaign Life Coalition is urging Canadians to call their MPs and ask that protection for the vulnerable handicapped be maintained and strengthened by law.

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