The women of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter doubt that the Province of B.C. has ensured either healing or justice in their decision to drop the appeal in the Hubert O’Connor case.
The provincial and federal government would have done much better to put their efforts into correcting a criminal justice system that women describe as women-blaming, callous, destructive to sexual assault complainants, their advocates and therefore to justice. Had they done what is in their power to do, they would not have left Marilyn Belleau, like so many other women complainants, agreeing to an alternative in order to “get out of the control of the court and out of the control of O’Connor himself.”
It is to be noted that a Healing Circle was not suggested some seven years ago by the First Nations women attacked by Hubert O’Connor. It is suggested only now and by O’Connor’s lawyer when the organized force of the Canadian Defence Bar, the Catholic Church, Canadian Parliament and the gender and race biased criminal justice system could not render a full and unequivocal acquittal for O’Connor.
These are not the only facts that lead us to question this A.G. ministry decision. If, as they keep saying, the A.G.’s office is unable to intervene in individual court cases, why are they doing so in this one? If this circle, suggested not by Aboriginals but by the AG’s ministry, was to be Aboriginal justice, why was Assistant Deputy A.G. Ernie Quantz leading the ceremony and why were federal officials in attendance?
And conversely, if Assistant Deputy Ernie Quantz had genuinely meant for healing to be happening , he would have had to address all the damage done by Hubert O’Connor and his court case. The list of women who have been done damage in these years is lengthy. Among them are all the First Nations women accusing O’Connor of sexual assault, the first prosecutor Wendy Harvey who tried to correct the sexism and racism in the disclosure rules and was not assisted by the Crown but was discredited instead. The list includes all those women across Canada whose diaries and personal records were subpoenaed by defence counsel in sexual assault cases they looked like they were losing, in a last ditch effort to discredit the complainant and dissuade her from proceeding. The list includes those feminist therapists and feminist rape crisis centres and transition houses who stood up for women’s equality rights and against the subpoenas despite fines, lectures and insults from judges and some A.G.’s.
Neither healing nor justice has been done here.
For further information contact:
Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter