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JUSTICE. OF A SORT

Doug Collins

July 3, 2001

Question: when is a hate crime not a hate crime? Answer: when Whites are attacked by minorities.

A blatant example of this has been shown by the Joel Libin case. Libin, a 19-year-old, was walking home one night last August and minding his own business when he was set upon by three members of Vancouver's Musqueam tribe who were looking for some fun. "Let's go find somebody to jump," being the words one of them used.

Young Libin nearly lost his life and narrowly escaped being turned into a human vegetable. He spent months in a coma, suffered "severe neurological injury," and had to learn again how to walk, talk and eat. He also lost 61 pounds. He had wanted to be an architect but that now looks like nothing more than a hope.

Two of his attackers were 16 and 18, and cannot be identified. The third is 22 and is now facing trial in adult court.The public has been outraged, though, by the sentences if that is what they can be called imposed on the two younger ones, each of whom got two years' probation and eighteen months' house arrest. Joel Libin, meanwhile, has made a good recovery but cannot go out alone. He must always have someone with him.

The reason the court gave the two young thugs a pat on the wrist is that there is one law for Indians and another for the rest of us. In 1996 the Liberals passed what Alliance MP Ted White of Vancouver's North Shore calls a piece of social engineering designed to keep as many Indians out of jail as possible.

In his regular advertorial in the North Shore News, Mr. White has pointed out, in dealing with the law as such and not specifically with the Libin case, that Section 718.2 (e) of the Criminal Code stipulates that judges should take into consideration "all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable ...with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.".

The MP went on to quote a Saskatchewan Law Review article that was critical of those who supported the legislation. They had "failed to recognize that singling out a particular race to receive special attention and consideration from judges is unacceptable discrimination, even though well intentioned". It would have been more accurate, however, to state that the Liberals didn't want to recognize what they were doing.

Which leads your scribe to ask: what else is new? Don't our Indian brothers also get special treatment with regard to hunting and fishing rights? And isn't "oral history" good enough to grant them lands in British Columbia to which they otherwise would have no legal right? And aren't our elitist, guilt-ridden, soft-soap rulers nothing more than a bunch of damned fools?

Section 718.2 (e) came into being because there is supposed to be a disproportionate number of Indians in our prisons. But Mr. White suggested that that is not necessarily the result of unfair sentencing. Furthermore, "there is substantial evidence that the over-representation of aboriginal offenders varies from one area of the country to another, and in some areas Aboriginals are not in fact over-represented in prison".

One of the principles behind the Liberals' move, he states, was a reduction in the likelihood of imprisonment even for very serious crimes. Which, of course, is what has happened in the Libin case.

A web-site was set up in which people could express their disgust at the sentences imposed so far, and at last count seven thousand signatures had been obtained. But it has made no difference. Last week Crown counsel decided after "a comprehensive review" that no error was committed by the judge that would permit appeals.

Libin's parents have said they were devastated by that decision.

There is something in the case that has been missed by the mainstream media, although it was noticed by columnist Kevin Michael Grace in The Report magazine. "Curiously," he stated, the judge made no reference to Canada's hate crime legislation. If three white boys had got drunk [as had these Indians] and had driven out to the Musqueam reserve looking for prey and had left an Indian teenager crippled, one hardly needs to hypothesize the consequences."

Exactly. From coast to coast, headlines and editorials would have called for blood. And it would have been given.

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