FOR SALE: INJUSTICE

Word came out yesterday that a group of defendants in a criminal case were trying to buy their way out of doing any severe jail time. It has been alleged that the men responsible for shooting Louise Russo, a mother of three, are attempting to lessen the jail time that they will serve by offering the innocent victim of their botched assassination attempt $2.5 million in compensation.

While something like this doesn’t really surprise me, the reaction of the Premier’s office and of a well known victims’ rights group does in a most alarming way.

The Premier was quick to distance himself from questions from reporters stating that he was unaware of any such proposal and that he couldn’t comment on a case before the courts. Very troubling words. What Mr. McGuinty should have said was that such an idea would be absolutely unacceptable to his government and that he would be speaking to the attorney general for Ontario.

If we think back to the events of Boxing Day, and the emotional statements that both Mr. David Miller and Premier Dalton McGuinty made in respect to gun violence, the lackadaisical way in which the Premier addressed this issue yesterday is dumbfounding. Perhaps all of the statements made in respect to dealing with criminals was simply window dressing. I can find no other explanation and find it truly disheartening.

Joe Wamback of the Canadian Crime Victims Foundation is even more misguided in his estimation of the situation. Consider the following statement that Mr. Wamback made yesterday. “The elected officials against this have lost their . . . minds. The only thing that is important is getting the Russo family money, not where it comes from.” That is one quote. Here is another. “…politicians who are against the restitution deal because the funds may be blood money from a criminal organization aren’t focusing on the important issue.”

Apparently, the important issue for Mr. Wamback is the almighty dollar. While he professes to represent the victims of crime, his statements clearly indicate one of two things. Either Mr. Wamback has some sort of agenda or he simply does not understand the term “victim of crime.”

How can one who professes to represent victims of crime believe that buying a lesser sentence with blood money is somehow okay? Where does he think the money that is being offered came from? It comes, of course, from other victims. To state that it does not matter where the money originated is simply folly and shows a complete and utter lack of even a basic understanding of the term ‘victim.’

Louise Russo had her life changed almost 2 years ago. It is tragic to think of the mother of three children being shot in the back and unable to walk again, but that is the reality. I would hope that after all that time, Mrs. Russo has been able to adjust, that is, as much as any of us could. But I would also hope that Mrs. Russo would stand up and unequivocally state “no” to this horrendous miscarriage of justice that is on the table.

The four men accused of the shooting are not your normal everyday misguided youths. They are contract killers, and as of April 2005, were facing over 100 charges in relation to the shooting which changed Louise’s life forever. Consider that when you recall what else Mr. McGuinty said yesterday in reference to the plea bargain “I allow that to unfold.” Apparently Mr. McGuinty does not see the injustice in this all-new “deal with the devils”.

The lawyer for the defendants were not absent from incredulous statements and had a few of their own. In responding to the outcry against this judicial miscarriage, one of the counsel for the accused stated that “It is a disaster. It could well jeopardize the deal, and Mrs. Russo will be deprived of a decent life because of this,” Another lawyer said “She could be the real loser because of this,”

It is glaringly evident that these lawyers join the ranks of the completely inane. To suggest that attempts to quash this deal will deprive Mrs. Russo of a decent life are insulting. It was the defendants whom these lawyers represent that deprived Mrs. Russo of that. The statement that she could be the real loser is also way off base. She already is. She lost more than any of us could fathom. Neither lawyer of those statements would give their name. I can’t blame them. Who would want to look that ignorant?