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Should killer's father be quarantined?
An Irish lawyer and speechifier and stretcher extraordinaire --- the best orator in North America

25-May-07 - The trial of Spiritwood, Saskatchewan's Arthur Dagenais ended last week and Dagenais, who may be dangerous, was released from bail conditions. He is the father of Curtis Dagenais who shot two RCMP officers to death last summer. Police charged Dagenais with trying to assist Curtis while Curtis was on the lam after he killed the officers (Curtis later turned himself in) - with obstructing justice under the Criminal Code of Canada. Convicting anyone in a criminal case is difficult and the police failed to prove Arthur Dagenais guilty. But, in addition to police evidence on the obstruction charge, there had been evidence that Arthur Dagenais might be dangerous. When Judge Barry Singer acquitted Dagenais, did he ponder the fact that, despite Dagenais's acquittal on the criminal charge, Arthur Dagenais shouldn't, if he was dangerous, have been freed? He could have and should have done that - because whether or not Dagenais is dangerous is a matter of public safety not a matter for the criminal law.

Under section 24 of the the Saskatchewan Mental Health Services Act, a totally different legal statute than the Criminal Code of Canada, judges in Saskatchewan can quarantine Arthur Dagenais - they don't have to convict him of a criminal offense if he "is likely to cause harm to himself or to others". The RCMP say that Arthur has "a history of hatred against police". When the police interviewed Arthur after the killings, Dagenais threatened that they "were going to have something to worry about if anything happens to Curtis". And, after the RCMP charged Arthur last July, Saskatchewan Provincial Court Judge Violet Meekma refused to release him on bail - she said he was a a risk to the police and to the public. And, after Judge Meekma confined Arthur, Pastor Leigh Sinclair, the spokeswoman for Arthur's wife and daughter, told the Globe and Mail: "[Arthur's wife and daughter] are very relieved [about Arthur's confinement] ..." And Denis Allchurch, the Saskatchewan Party MLA for Spiritwood, told the Globe and Mail "that ... local residents knew that Curt and Arthur were trouble and prone to violence ... the similarities between Curt and Mayerthorpe's James Roszko, the 46-year-old who ambushed the Mounties and was called a small-town 'bad ass' by Alberta's Justice Minister, are troubling." "People want Arthur to remain in custody" Allchurch told the Globe. And a number of the citizens of Spiritwood signed a petition to have Arthur quarantined.

But last August a Queen's Bench Judge released Arthur on stay-at-home/no-contact bail conditions. That judge should have considered quarantining Arthur under the Mental Health Services Act. Judges are confusing (they are, after all, lawyers) criminal law and public safety. The public safety provisions of the Mental Health Services Act provide an easy quarantine procedure while still protecting the rights of anyone who might be quarantined - a judge orders him to be examined by a doctor - if the doctor considers him unsafe, the person is then examined by a psychiatrist and another doctor - after that he is regularly examined. Police tried to use this procedure in the James Roszko case. Judges turned Roszko loose - Roszko murdered four RCMP officers.

And, finally, have a look at our stories of April 20, 2007 - Virginia mass killer should have been quarantined and February 1, 2006 - The boxing day shoot-out.

  • For Curtis and Arthur's side of the story - have a look at Sheila Steele's InjusticeBusters web site by CLICKING HERE. It includes a long letter Curtis wrote to the Edmonton Sun.
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