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Cory Morgan: Canada’s Weak Justice System Cost Lives in Saskatchewan Tragedy

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore speaks during a press conference at RCMP F Division Headquarters in Regina Sept. 4, 2022. Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson allegedly stabbed and killed 10 people between James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Sask. on Sept. 4.  (The Canadian Press/Michael Bell)


The extent of the government’s responsibilities and control in the lives of citizens is debatable. From social engineering to business subsidies to funding public art, many people question whether the state needs to be involved in such matters.

However, one realm where there is almost universal support for government action is the protection of the public from violent criminals.

Only the most fringe of anarchists can try to make the case that the government shouldn’t manage a criminal justice system with a mandate of preserving public safety. While people should have the right to self-defence, it is expected that they rarely will have to exercise that right in a civilized society as the justice system will incarcerate dangerous individuals.

The Canadian government has been derelict in its duty to protect citizens from violent criminals and the body count is rising quickly.

The death count from the stabbing spree Myles and Damien Sanderson are accused of sits at 10, with 18 people injured. Some of the victims are in critical condition. The number of deaths may grow.

There is no reason all those people should have been assaulted and killed. Myles Sanderson should never have been approved for release. With a history of 59 criminal convictions—many of them violent—the justice system should have determined that Sanderson was unsafe to release into the public for decades, if ever.

At some point, with a person who has proven to be violent and incorrigible, a justice system has to put public safety first and incarcerate the offender for a very long term. Our ability to rehabilitate people who are that dangerous isn’t good enough to take the risk of releasing them.

Sanderson was released from one of his many periods in custody in February, though the parole board deemed him to be at a high risk to re-offend with violence. How on earth could they release such a dangerous person into the public with that knowledge?

When the parole board decided to release Sanderson, they noted he had suffered from a childhood of neglect and violence. They noted he was a chronic substance abuser and felt he suffered from PTSD due to a rough upbringing. While these things all help to explain why Sanderson has become the person he is, they don’t mean he isn’t dangerous.

We need to study and find out why people are driven to violent crime, but sympathy for a violent person’s past shouldn’t be a factor in determining whether or not they will put society at risk if released.

This trend is far from new.

For example, in 1987 in Alberta, convicted murderer Daniel Gingras was released on a day pass to West Edmonton Mall for his birthday. He overpowered his unarmed escort and killed two more people before he was apprehended again. Who on earth thought that Gingras was of low risk? He was serving time for murder and literally had “born to kill” tattooed on his arm.

In the last year in Alberta alone, four young women have been murdered by four known violent offenders. The most recent was Nikita Baron in Calgary. All of those lives could have been saved had their killers not been released by Canada’s weak justice system. When one considers the lengths to which the government is willing to go to reduce some of the smallest of risks to the public with legislation, it is astounding that they won’t tighten up sentencing when it comes to known, violent offenders.

The rehabilitation of criminals is a laudable and important goal. We don’t want to incarcerate shoplifters for life or assume that drug addicts are beyond reform. We all win when someone who had criminally gone off the rails can rejoin society productively and safely.

Sometimes though, we must face the hard reality that some people are just too broken to be fixed. We have to accept that they will be too dangerous to release into the public under any circumstances and we need to keep them behind bars for a very long time, if not for life. The consequences of erring when releasing someone with a known violent history are too high.

Long-term incarceration need not be punitive. We have a human obligation to treat our prisoners well even if they don’t appear to deserve it. Long-term prison facilities should be designed with the knowledge that many occupants will never leave them. Call it warehousing if you like. It’s just what must be done.

Perhaps it’s time to hold some parole boards criminally responsible for their actions. I suspect they would become much more careful in that case. Innocent Canadians are being needlessly killed and somebody needs to be accountable for it.

Justice reform is long overdue to become an issue in Canada.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.