Feds Failures Fatal:
Lax Law Enforcement Killed Officer

PUBLICATION:  The Winnipeg Sun 
DATE:  2005.12.21
EDITION:  Final 
PAGE:  5 

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There were two things Ottawa was supposed to learn from a number of high-profile, stalking-related murders in Manitoba in the early 1990s.

One was to bring in and enforce tough, anti-stalking laws to ensure predators were held criminally responsible for their actions.

The other was to change the gun laws so that people convicted of stalking and psychos with mental health issues could not legally obtain firearms.

Unfortunately, the federal government and the courts have failed on both counts.

And a Quebec police officer was gunned down and killed last week as a result.

Const. Valerie Gignac, a Laval, Que., police officer, was shot and killed while attending a call.

Francois Pepin, the alleged killer, has been charged with first-degree murder.

He was restricted from possessing a firearm. But here's the kicker: he was allowed to possess a firearm during hunting season.

He was also recently convicted of criminal harassment -- stalking -- but was set free with a $500 fine and no further restrictions on firearms.

Apparently, the federal government has learned nothing.

In the early 1990s, Manitoba was rocked by two stalker-related killings.

At the time, Ottawa vowed to do everything possible to prevent similar killings by cracking down on stalking and tightening gun laws for high-risk people.

Terry-Lynn Babb was gunned down in broad daylight at the corner of Sherbrook Street and Wolseley Avenue in 1992 in front of a group of horrified children.

Her killer stalked her for months, and Babb had reported the man's predatory behaviour to police. There were no stalking laws on the books then, and police were powerless to intervene.

The man also obtained a firearm legally, even though he was being treated for a mental-health problem.

Less than a week later, Sherry Paul was gunned down in her St. Eustache home, along with her husband, by a man who had stalked and threatened her for several months.

Governments vowed to ensure that stalking become a criminal offence -- which it has -- but also to vigorously enforce it, which it has not.

Governments also vowed to tighten up Canada's gun laws to prevent people with mental-health problems from legally obtaining firearms, which they have not.

The recent case in Laval is a case in point. Pepin was convicted of criminal harassment before he allegedly shot Gignac.


But because criminal harassment isn't treated as a serious crime, Pepin didn't spend even a weekend in jail.

Worse, Pepin was banned from possessing a firearm but could have one during hunting season.

If you're a threat to the community, shouldn't you be banned from having a firearm 12 months a year?

If governments and the courts were serious about prosecuting stalkers, Pepin would have been behind bars.

And if they were serious about cracking down on firearm possession for people who are a threat to the community, Pepin would not have been allowed to have a firearm during any season.

It's bad enough criminals can obtain firearms illegally. It's even worse that governments are allowing people who are a threat to the community to possess firearms during hunting seasons or any season.

It means they're not serious about trying to curb the type of murders we saw in Laval, Que.

They're more interested in blowing $1 billion or more on a gun registry that does nothing to curb crime.

Think about that when you go to the polls Jan. 23.

© Copyright 2005 diArmani.com