National Post hammers race-based sentencing of Caledonia attacker

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UPDATE 0024 hrs Jan 06/11: I’ve received a tip that on SUN TV’s ‘The Arena’ Show tomorrow Michael Coren will be talking to David Menzies about the light sentence given to Richard Smoke.
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Richard Smoke, the man who was convicted of nearly murdering builder Sam Gualtieri in Caledonia and leaving him with permanent brain damage, received a total sentence of only two years and eleven months because he had the good fortune to be born of a favoured racial minority.

The National Post editorial board and their reporter Christie Blatchford — author of Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear And Anarchy, And How The Law Failed All of Us — have decried the shameful law that has allowed this repugnant situation to exist:

See also:

VoC Comment

For five years I and my associates have done our best to try to follow in the footsteps of Dr. King’s non-violent approach as we confront the injustices of racial policing in Caledonia. In the long run, it is the path to victory over the racial supremacy enshrined in our justice system that says, in effect, that a human life doesn’t matter as much if it is destroyed by someone with aboriginal blood running through their veins. 

Some will be tempted to become prejudiced against native people or believe that justice can only be obtained through extrajudicial means, but let us not forget that even when four black girls were murdered in the KKK bombing of a Baptist church in 1963, King never waivered from his belief in non-violence or his faith in his white neighbours:

 […] The spilled blood of these innocent girls may cause the whole citizenry of Birmingham to transform the negative extremes of a dark past into the positive extremes of a bright future. Indeed this tragic event may cause the white South to come to terms with its conscience.

And so I stand here to say this afternoon to all assembled here, that in spite of the darkness of this hour, we must not despair. We must not become bitter, nor must we harbor the desire to retaliate with violence. No, we must not lose faith in our white brothers. Somehow we must believe that the most misguided among them can learn to respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality. […]

I hope that one day those involved in the Caledonia lawlessness will come to terms with their consciences. Richard Smoke did apologize to the Gualtieri family, and that is a step in the right direction. 

It is, however, long past time for the OPP, Ontario government and Six Nations to set an example by offering their apologies as well. This would go a long way to turn the negative extremes of Caledonia’s dark past into King’s “positive extremes of a bright future.” 

We must recognize that the ‘enemy’ here is not native people or the sentencing judge or even Richard Smoke. No, the real enemy is our government which arrogantly thought it could institute racist policies to correct racism.

The National Post editorial board got it right:

“Judges can consider the unique circumstances of natives, but should remember that the rest of Canadian society must feel as though their court system takes lawlessness seriously, no matter the skin colour of the perpetrator. Locking Smoke up for less than two years sends precisely the opposite message.”

The Holocaust should have taught us all that racially-based justice is intrinsically evil and that no good can possibly come of it. Sadly, this seems not to be the case. The best thing we could do to provide some measure of meaning to Sam Gualtieri and his family’s suffering is to pressure the Canadian government to modify the Criminal Code of Canada to remove special treatment for aboriginal criminals, and continue to fight against the racial policing that created the conditions for his victimization.

POSTED BY:
Mark Vandermaas
Editor, VoiceofCanada
Founder, Caledonia Victims Project (www.CaledoniaVictimsProject.ca)
info@voiceofcanada.ca

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0 responses to “National Post hammers race-based sentencing of Caledonia attacker

  1. I watched the January 6, 2012 Sun News “Byline” video, in which Brian Lilley interviewed Joe Gualtieri, brother of Sam Gualtieri:

    I have also read the December 27, 2011 National Post editorial and Christie Blatchford’s January 2, 2012 National Post column. Both news items say the 1999 Gladue decision regarding the sentencing of aboriginal offenders played a role in Judge Whitten’s decision:

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/12/27/national-post-editorial-board-more-injustice-from-caledonia/

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/01/02/christie-blatchford-bad-logic-behind-light-caledonia-sentence/

    My understanding from what Joe said in the “Byline” video is that the judge did not follow the true intention of the Gladue decision. Joe said Gladue was supposed to apply to the low scale of crimes. Smoke’s crime certainly does not fall into this category.

    Furthermore, Joe said that the intention of Gladue was to help the individual reconcile with not just the aboriginal, but the non-aboriginal community. Yes, it is true that Smoke apologized to Sam Gualtieri and his family, as noted in this Hamilton Spectator December 3, 2011 article:

    http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/634043–smoke-apologizes-to-gualtieri-and-family-in-court

    But the article also mentions the fact that Defence counsel Sarah Dover made statements that I believe tended to minimize the extent of the damage to Gualtieri. She also claimed that the incident was “isolated and spontaneous.” Well then, how does Dover explain why Whitten chastised Smoke for threatening to do the same thing to an onlooker after he committed the crime? This was reported in the December 23, 2011 National Post article below:

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/12/23/native-attacker-given-reduced-sentence-for-vicious-caledonia-assault/

    Finally, Blatchford said in her January 2, 2012 column that “[d]uring his sentencing, most of Mr. Smoke’s supporters refused to stand when Judge Whitten came into or left the courtroom.”

    Does this mean that the supporters who would not stand are OK with Smoke getting a reduced sentence, but not OK with showing respect for the judge that made this decision? How do their actions contribute to improving relations between the races?

    I attended quite a few aboriginal pow-wows from the 1960s to the 1990s. In fact, I still have a flyer from a pow-wow I attended in the 1990s. This flyer lists 14 “etiquette” items. Among them is that men are supposed to remove their hats during “Grand Entry” and other special events at the pow-wow. In addition, all attendees (aboriginal and non-aboriginal) are supposed to try to remain quiet when the M.C. is speaking. If non-aboriginals are asked to show respect in this way at pow-wows, why can’t some of Smoke’s supporters show some respect for a court system that, in my opinion, has gone overboard to accommodate them? Granted, this flyer was not for a Six Nations pow-wow, but I have attended Six Nations pageants where, as I recall, similar protocols were followed.

    It does not sound to me like Judge Whitten abided by the Gladue decision. I hope the Gualtieris are successful in their attempt to get this decision appealed.

    One last note, Mark: Although I agree with you that the “real enemy is our government,” I do not agree that the sentencing judge and Smoke should not be held responsible for their actions because of “racist policies to correct racism.” As Joe explained in the video, Whitten did not really follow what the Gladue decision envisioned. And I think if Smoke was truly sorry for the damage his actions have caused, he would have asked his supporters to stand when Whitten entered and left the courtroom.

    VoC REPLY: Thanks so much for your links and commentary, CP. I know you are uniquely qualified to offer it. Joe Gualtieri made some great points, and Friday (out day in court) was a good day for us because of the extensive media coverage by SUN, CHTV, CFRB, etc. Regards, Mark