I am quite scared and, frankly, very nervous.
Because a landmark decision on whether or not to grant Robert Latimer a pardon will, one swoop of a judges g gavel, set the stage and mold the culture in which we view Canadians with disabilities for future.
News last week that Latimer, the Saskatchewan farmer convicted of first degree murder in the death of his daughter Tracy, is asking for a pardon must be met with revered and moral thinking from
Not only does Latimer’s request re-open the wounds of that fall morning in 1993. While the rest of the family was at chuch, Latimer when he placed Tracy in his truck and hooked up a gas line to end her life and then carried her back to her bed.
It puts the lives of thousands of disabilities in jeapordy, and sadly asks the blunt question: are we considered equal citizens?
You might notice I wrote the word ‘we.’ That’s because I live with cerebral palsy, the same disability Tracy had. There are different degrees of cerebral palsy, which is typically caused due to lack of oxygen at birth. In Tracy’s case, the heart monitor was broken when she was born, Nov. 23. 1980, which didn’t alert doctors her oxygen supply was cut off.
But, she lived. And even if she had mobility issues, Tracy was first and foremost daughter who deserved unconditional love. She also deserved to reach her full potential — and whatever that was needed to be celebrated. Tracy would have been 37 today and we will never, sadly, know what accomplishments she could have achieved.
So, now we have a man, convicted of second degree murder and who has served subsequent jail time, is asking for a pardon for what he did.
If our courts grant him this most unreasonable request, it will put every Canadian with a disability in grave danger — not from Latimer.
But from the profound and disparaging precedent it will set.
Hundreds of thousands of parents of children with disabilities exhibit hero-like actions every day, sacrificing only what a parent can for their child.
What if one of those parents, who is near the end of their rope, even thinks of what Latimer did? If he is pardoned, the chance of young kids with disabilities could … sorry, I can’t even think finish that unspeakable sentence.
And for those of us adults with disabilities, does that mean we’re now seen in a different light and are deemed expendable? Does that mean programs and services — support systems people with disabilities fought tooth and nail for — receive less funding because, all of a sudden, it’s been deemed there isn’t a need for them?
The ramifications and the ripple effect of giving Latimer a pardon has the potential of hindering many lives.
But the one life it will have the most profound impact is the 12-year girl who had a smile, who loved music, who was a part of her community named Tracy.
A pardon for Robert Latimer would simply say Tracy’s life — disabilities and abilities — didn’t t matter.
It does dammit. And so does every other Canadian, whatever circumstance you face.