The inevitable politicization of Guy Turcotte

There’s something off putting, even gross, about politicians using a heinous crime as a soapbox. That is exactly what James Moore did yesterday afternoon, mere hours after the release of Guy Turcotte, the Quebec doctor who in 2009 stabbed his two children to death. Moore couldn’t find a microphone fast enough to denounce Turcotte’s release, evoking the kind of maudlin language usually reserved for circus callers and comic strip vigilantes. (An aside: why did the Conservatives trot out Canada’s Heritage Minister to talk about a matter of criminal justice? Isn’t that why Rob Nicholson exists?)

Calling the release of  Turcotte akin to “freeing a criminal” (take that, Quebec justice system!), Moore politicized the pain of Isabelle Gaston, Turcotte’s former wife. “Isabelle Gaston does not deserve to live in fear of her children’s killer and neither do other victims of similar crimes across Canada,”  Moore said. “Isabelle Gaston deserves better than this. The system has failed her.”

At his side was Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, who remained uncharacteristically  demure during the press conference. A pity, really, because Sen. Boisvenu can usually be counted on for a boffo sound bite. Like the time when, faced with Statistics Canada data that inconveniently pointed out an overall decrease in violent  crime, the good Senator said, ““Someone, somewhere, is manipulating the numbers” and that he was “going to talk to those [Statscan] guys.” Really, it’s a surprise Boisvenu didn’t invite Turcotte to kill himself. It’s not like he hasn’t done that sort of thing before.

Moore then brought up two other murders (totally unrelated, save for the gory circumstances) to suggest that Canadian justice system was somehow failing its citizens, thereby taking a very natural sense of outrage and disgust for what Turcotte did and suggesting this outrage necessarily means we need change in the country—that we are somehow “soft on crime.”

We aren’t. Canadians were tough on crime long before Harper darkened Parliament’s door—so tough, as I once noted, that it’s diminished by nearly 20 per cent since 2000.  And where are violent crime rates among the lowest in the country? Why, it’s in namby-pamby, soft-on-crime Quebec. As Statistics Canada shows, it’s lower here (1,045 per 100,000 population) than in Alberta (1,405) and James Moore’s home province of British Columbia (1,460). Overall, our homicide rate is less than a third of the United States’.

Most people with a conscience and a heartbeat would like to see a guy like Turcotte suffer as his victims did. This urge is as guttural as it is natural—but it isn’t the kind of thing on which you base policy. But don’t tell that to our governing party.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.