Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Vince Li and the Politics of Fear

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Vince Li and the Politics of Fear

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Vince Li and the politics of fear

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An editorial from the, published :

Manitoba's senior member of Parliament, Shelly Glover, uttered four sentences on the Vince Li case Tuesday. The thoughts in each sentence were emotional, irrelevant and factually incorrect. Ms. Glover's comments merely inflamed the stigma and misunderstanding associated with mental illness and schizophrenia in particular.

Mr. Li is not a convicted criminal, and there is no legal basis for treating him as such, much less ensuring "that penalties match the severity of the crime."

Her words also reflect, however, the sincere views of many Canadians who can't accept that Mr. Li could eventually be free to walk the streets of Winnipeg, less than seven years after he beheaded a man on a Greyhound bus while in the grip of a severe schizophrenic episode, a previously undiagnosed condition.

The fact he was found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder, he was incapable of knowing right from wrong at the time of the slaying, is irrelevant to those who believe he deserves to be punished for the rest of his life. Others also worry there is no way to be sure he won't reoffend.

Of course there is no way to be sure people convicted of drunk driving won't reoffend and possibly kill someone, yet no one is demanding they be locked up forever to protect the public. In fact, alcoholics may well pose a greater risk to safety than the mentally ill, but the debate isn't about rational responses to specific circumstances and facts.

Politicians should be better than that. They should do more than capitalize on the fears of the general public.

No other party in Canada is better at that than the Conservative party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has turned the exploitation of fear into a political art form.

Politicians of all stripes are guilty of the same offence from time to time, but no one has an enemies list longer than Mr. …

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