Murder rate in Canada plunges to 47-year low

The rate at which Canadians are being murdered dropped in 2013 to its lowest level in 47 years, according to Statistics Canada. Nationally, there were 1.44 victims per 100,000 people in 2013, down eight per cent from 1.56 in 2012 and the lowest rate recorded since 1966. In 2013, 505 people were killed (includes murder, manslaughter, infanticide) in Canada, meaning that a nation of 35 million people had fewer killings than Los Angeles County (population 10 million), which recorded 595 homicides in 2013. The murder rate in the U.S. has generally been about three times higher than the rate in Canada for some time. Canada’s highest murder rate recorded since 1963 was in 1977, when it hit 3.0, according to StatsCan.

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Leaders mislead on link between police spending and crime

Calgary PoliceIt’s the silly season, with respect to policing, in Calgary and across Canada, as local governments finalize budgets for the coming year (years in some case) and politicians and policing leaders trot out familiar, hollow arguments to justify increases. In Calgary, the police budget now comprises roughly 10% of annual civic spending* ($354** million in 2015) yet officials warn that they may have to spend much more on policing in coming years in response to the city’s ballooning population. They make this argument in the absence of any science that establishes a link between police strength and crime rates and community safety.

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“Vile” serial rapist blames victims for his imprisonment

Selva SubbiahAfter more than two decades behind bars, serial rapist Selva Subbiah (inset), a predator who assaulted hundreds of women, still blames his victims for his predicament. The “disturbing” revelation appears in the latest decision on his case by the Parole Board of Canada. The board ruled, in a decision in July this year, that Subbiah is too dangerous to be released from prison before he completes every day of his 24-year prison sentence. The board ordered Subbiah detained in prison until his sentence expires in January 2017, when he’ll immediately be deported to his home country of Malaysia. This marks the sixth consecutive year that the board has taken the unusual step of keeping him locked up, rather than granting conditional release, a form of early freedom that is given to most imprisoned criminals. [Read more...]

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Lessons for Calgary from a failed, body-less murder prosecution

Robert BaltovichThere is a name – Robert Baltovich – that Calgary Police homicide investigators likely are loath to consider as they hunt the bodies of three murder victims. Baltovich (inset) is a member of an exclusive club in Canadian criminal history: a man convicted of murder in the absence of the body of a victim, who was later was exonerated. Baltovich was convicted of second-degree murder in 1992, although police had not found the body of his purported victim, his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain. The 22-year-old Toronto woman disappeared in 1990. Baltovich spent eight years in prison. In 2008, he was acquitted after a second trial. Baltovich is suing, claiming malicious prosecution, in a case that soon will pass the quarter century mark and that exemplifies the difficulties of a prosecution in which authorities lack a critical piece of evidence, the body of the victim. Elizabeth Bain’s remains have never been found. In Calgary, nearly two months have elapsed since the disappearance of Alvin Liknes, 66, his wife Kathryn, 53, and their five-year-old grandson Nathan O’Brien. Police have said that their bodies have not been found. Despite this, investigators concluded that the three were murdered. Douglas Garland, a 54-year-old man with business and personal ties to the victims and a criminal record, has been charged with the murders.

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Notorious child sex killer Duane Taylor murdered in prison

Duane TaylorA child sex killer who was possessed by deviant desires to molest and harm children beginning in his youth, has been murdered in a prison in Manitoba, according to Winnipeg Free Press crime reporter Mike McIntyre. Duane Taylor (inset) is notorious in Kingston, Ontario, where he raped and murdered a two-year-old girl, April Morrison, in 1981. Taylor has been behind bars since his conviction for first-degree murder in April’s slaying, a crime that rocked the small eastern Ontario city. (UPDATE: A 25-year-old inmate at Stony Mountain Institution is charged with murdering Taylor).

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Realtor: Calgary mass murder house has “all the right bones”

Brentwood mass murder houseCalgary realtor Tom Malin needs a good editor. Malin has one of the most talked about real estate listings in Calgary right now. He’s selling a 53-year-old two-storey (inset) on a leafy street in Brentwood, one of Cowtown’s older neighbourhoods in the northwest. The house at 11 Butler Crescent NW is listed at $489,900. The house is described, in Malin’s listing, as having “all the right bones for you and your family.” The word choice seems questionable and tasteless, given that the house was the site, 15 weeks ago, of a horrific mass murder in which five people were stabbed to death. Having ‘good bones’ is real estate marketing lingo tantamount to saying that the structure and foundation of a house is solid, but, cosmetically, it needs work. Surely Malin could have found a more creative and tasteful way to describe a property that is a lightning rod for community grief.

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Could serial killer Paul Bernardo father babies behind bars?

Do killers locked in Canadian prisons marry, get conjugal visits with their new wives and father children, while they remain behind bars? Yes, yes, and yes. In fact, it happens regularly. But what about a sadistic serial rapist and killer like Paul Bernardo (inset), who has been in prison since November 1995, after he was convicted of murdering two teenage girls in Ontario, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy? Well, maybe. The questions are relevant, given news (broken in a story by Sunmedia) that Bernardo has struck up a romantic relationship with a 30-year-old woman from London, Ontario, who wants to marry the man considered one of the most depraved serial killers caught in Canada in the last half century. I think Bernardo may be working a scheme with this relationship.

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Judge accepts convict’s claim that shiv in prison cell isn’t his

Prison shivThrough my late teens and early 20s – in late 70s and 80s – heavy-duty plastic milk crates had one notable use, as containers/carriers for long-play, 33 rpm records. Albums fit perfectly into the rugged, square containers that were designed to transport jugs and plastic bags of milk and other products from dairies to retailers and restaurants. It turns out the crates have an entirely unexpected use inside a federal penitentiary, as the raw material for fabrication of a sturdy and lethal prison shank. I dug out of my personal archive a photo I snapped of one of these marvels of convict engineering (inset, in full after jump), after seeing a recent decision of a Federal Court judge who tossed out the internal prison conviction of an Ontario inmate after a five-inch long Fibreglas knife was found inside the convict’s cell.

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Five years after Shafia killings, legal process unresolved

Mohammad ShafiaFive years ago today, around 10 a.m. on June 30,  2009, Brent White, a constable with the municipal police department in Kingston, Ontario, received a dispatch instructing him to go to Kingston Mills, a scenic and secluded spot on the northern edge of the city’s built-up area. At Kingston Mills, a series of ancient locks lifted boats from the level of Lake Ontario up to the level of the Cataraqui River. At one of the locks, a submerged car was spotted that morning by lock worker John Bruce. He had called police, beginning a chain of events that would reveal a horrifying quadruple homicide, Canada’s worst mass honour killing, orchestrated by Afghan immigrant Mohammad Shafia (inset). [Read more...]

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4 reasons Justin Bourque may be a good candidate for parole

Justin BourqueWhat happens to Justin Bourque (inset) if he is convicted of murdering three RCMP officers and wounding two others in New Brunswick? Will the 24 year old spend decades penned in a small concrete box, languishing there until he dies of old age? Maybe not. Bourque, who faces three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in a shooting rampage in Moncton, N.B., on June 4, 2014, could be a good candidate for parole, some day, given the bits and pieces of information that are now available. (UPDATE: On July 31, 2014, Bourque was declared fit to stand trial. SECOND UPDATE: On August 8, 2014, Bourque pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder)

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