Latimer Appeal Scheduled For 27 November 1996

16 October 1996—In November, 1994 a Saskatchewan Court convicted Robert Latimer of murdering his daughter Tracy Latimer. The Supreme Court of Canada will hear his appeal on 27 November 1996.

Once again, the onus will be on the community of people with disabilities to fight for justice for Tracy Latimer.

As CCD will not have standing in the courtroom, our organizations will need to position themselves with the media to be key commentators on the Latimer case.

The public needs our perspective to counteract the misperceptions fostered by Latimer and the mainstream media. Dick Sobsey reports that a poll conducted by the Calgary Sun revealed that 92% of more than 500 respondents believed Latimer was justified in killing his 12 year old daughter Tracy.

CCD's Human Rights Committee will direct a media campaign promoting the fundamental human rights of people with disabilities. The CCD Latimer Watch is a vehicle for the community of persons with disabilities to share information and viewpoints on the Latimer case and the issues it raises.

If you have a perspective that you would like to share in the CCD Latimer Watch please forward it to the CCD office. (CCD, 926-294 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg MB, R3C 0B9. Tel: 204-947-0303; Fax: 204-942-4625; email:

Some Info About Robert Latimer

Is Tracy's murder the only crime that Latimer has been charged with?

No. Saturday Night magazine reports in 1974, a jury found Latimer guilty of rape of a minor in Wilkie, Saskatchewan; but, on appeal, Latimer got off on a technicality. The Crown did not attempt a re-trial. Consequently, the rape trial was not discussed during his murder trial. In his dissenting decision in the Latimer murder trial, Judge Bayda described Latimer as "a typical, salt of the earth, 42 year old farmer...", "a loving caring nurturing person" and "not a murderous thug, devoid of conscience, whose life has been one of violence, greed, contempt for the law and total disrespect for human beings." In light of his past history, Latimer seems less kindly than he purports to be. Coincidentally, Judge Bayda was the presiding judge in the trial that convicted Latimer of rape in 1974. Is it possible he forgot his earlier court experience with Latimer?

How much jail time has Robert Latimer done in connection with his murder of Tracy?

Latimer has done virtually no jail time in connection with his murder of Tracy. Currently, Latimer is living on his farm.

When was Tracy murdered?

Tracy was murdered on Sunday, October 24, 1993.

When did Robert Latimer confess his murder?

Latimer first lied and tried to conceal what he had done. Prior to the autopsy, Latimer said that Tracy died in her sleep. When the autopsy proved that Tracy died of carbon monoxide poisoning, Latimer confessed to gassing her in his truck and then putting her in bed.

How did Latimer murder Tracy?

He put her in the front seat of his truck beside the steering wheel. He attached a hose to the exhaust pipe and put the other end through a narrow opening in the cab's rear window. He then started the engine at 11:30 a.m. In seconds the truck filled with lethal fumes. Latimer told the police, "I let it run until noon. I was timing all this stuff. I was sitting there watching through the back window."

Did Latimer consider using other methods to kill his daughter?

Yes. He looked at giving her an overdose of valium or shooting her and then burning her body in a fire. The Crown Prosecutor called it a "calculating scheme".

What did Tracy Latimer's mother feel about her?

She wished Tracy "would just go to sleep and not wake up." "We lost Tracy when she was born," said Laura Latimer during her court testimony.

Does Latimer express any guilt or remorse?

No. "I honestly don't believe there was ever any crime committed," stated Robert Latimer in a CBC video, entered by the Crown as evidence.

When did Robert Latimer decide to kill his daughter?

In his confession, Robert Latimer said he decided to kill Tracy 12 days prior to actually committing the murder. He made the decision after learning Tracy's doctor had offered surgery to remedy Tracy's pain from a chronic hip dislocation.

What distinguishing feature defines first degree murder?

Murder must be premeditated to be first degree.

Of what crime was Robert Latimer tried and convicted in regard to his daughter's death?

Robert Latimer was tried and convicted of second degree murder.

Why did Robert Latimer dislike the idea of surgery as a remedy for Tracy's hip dislocation?

Robert Latimer described the surgery as mutilation. Mrs. Latimer said it would not cure her disability.

Canadians Respond to Latimer

To CCD's surprise, many Canadians, some in influential positions, have supported Latimer. In April of 1995, Robert Latimer had received $65,000 in donations for his legal costs. CCD's Tracy Fund, created to promote the fundamental human rights of people with disabilities, has received much less support.

Senator Sharon Carstairs told the Winnipeg Free Press, "I'm no judge, but I think the appropriate sentence in this case would have been between three and six months." Carstairs sat on a Senate Committee that urged a third category of murder—with no minimum sentence— for "mercy killing".

In December 1994, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association called upon the Federal Justice Minister to revoke Robert Latimer's prison sentence. "Do not let this family endure another moment of needless suffering," said Alan Borovoy, counsel for the Association. "Society must do the right thing. The legal arguments are really beside the point, " Borovoy. A section of the Criminal Code allows sentences to be shortened on compassionate grounds.

Dick Sobsey explains that positive attitudes toward "mercy killing", as Latimer's act has been characterized by some, are both a symptom of discrimination and violence against people with disabilities and a fundamental cause of future killings and abuse.

To help promote the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities, contribute to the Tracy Fund. (CCD, 926-294 Portage Ave., Winnipeg MB, R3C 0B9.)