Friday, April 13, 2007

Time Is Running Out
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By now, most who are interested in the Wilbert Coffin case should be aware that an application has been made to the federal government for a review of the conviction and the eventual execution of Mr. Coffin. Though the execution was carried out in Montreal in 1956, a haunting trail has been blazed that is still very much with Canadian society more than a half century later.
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If you are new to this case you may be asking why all this is necessary. In it's simplest form, the crime of murder was committed in the province of Quebec, violating the Criminal Code Of Canada. When a crime is committed, especially a serious crime such as murder, is it not incumbent upon the Canadian judiciary to investigate and bring forth the guilty party for punishment, pursuant to, and in accordance with societal demands? Of course it is. Why then, should this case be any different than most that exhibit similar qualities?
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This case is unique bacause it was tainted from it's genesis. It had no foundation. It had no core. Lacking the elements of a truthful and honest prosecution, this case could at best be described as a shocking example of justice gone wild.
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I can only assume that society is expected to accept that which is handed down to us by government. Let us face the facts here. We became a loose democracy in 1867, with the joining of Upper and Lower Canada. In this democracy, individual provinces were granted the authority to administer fairly, those laws and statutes as defined by the federal authority affecting justice. It is true that we did not have our present Charter Of Rights And Freedoms for more than one hundred years later, however, in the absense of this charter, each citizen of Canada was assured of fair process of law. Wilbert Coffin was one of those citizens.
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Not only did the system miserably fail Wilbert Coffin, it took away whatever liberties that our democracy offered. The federal authority followed up by marching Wilbert Coffin to the gallows on February 10, 1956. In the wake of the system failure, society was left to make a choice, accept that which was handed down, or strike back.
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A few days ago I was engaged in a discussion with a group of people concerning the principles of law and order. I made reference to the Wilbert Coffin case. Other than myself, there were a couple of people who were familiar with the case, and several who were not. At my mention of an application to the federal government for a review of this case, the question that arose appeared unanimous. The question was simply, "why has it taken over fifty years?"
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That is a valid question. Most folks reading this today will not be aware of the fact that this is not the first time that the federal government has been petitioned for a review of this case. In fact, this is the second time that the federal cabinet has officially been approached. The first time was in 1955. At that point in history, the federal government was headed by The Right Honourable Louis St. Laurent as prime minister. The minister of justice during that period was The Honourable Jim Garson. It is important to note that this same administration was in power for the duration of the Wilbert Coffin affair.
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It is important because this governing body would have been aware of the suggestions, and in many cases proof, of the deceit and corruption surrounding this case from the government of the province of Quebec. Unfortunately, most Canadians would not have been aware of the depth of the hatred that existed between St. Laurent and his crew in Ottawa, and premier Maurice Duplessis and his band in Quebec City.
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Though none have had the courage to admit it, and the same holds true to this day, this case has always been a political football. I couldn't care less if you are a Liberal Member of Parliament, a Conservative Member of Parliament, A Bloc Quebecois Member of Parliament, or whatever it is that you choose to represent, you have no right to use a case such as this to garner votes. These happenings eat at the very heart of Canadians, and as a member of parliament, if you are not doing your part to clean up the mess then you are taking votes under false pretences, and in my view, you should not be allowed to represent your party in the House.
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In this particular instance a man was put to death. It is apparent that he was put to death because corruption paved the road to the gallows. Politicians had the same powers to grant a stay of execution as they did to permit the execution. If there was one single question, and it can now be proven that many existed, then this man, Wilbert Coffin died in vain. Pure and simple, in my view, he died in vain simply to shut up the Americans, and to soothe the bruised ego of both Louis St. Laurent and Maurice Duplessis.
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It is sad when it becomes apparent that society will continue to protect those who displayed such a negative impact. This is particularly true of Duplessis and the province of Quebec. To this day there are those who simply choose to pretend that certain things will go away if not talked about. The Wilbert Coffin story is one of those. History dictates that the early 1950's were among Quebec's darkest days. By comparison to other parts of Canada, Quebec is still reeling from this period.
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For the past fifty years Quebec's record on law and order has been deplorable. As I write this report, there are approximately three hundred unsolved murders in the province of Quebec. Police wrong doing has been rampant. There are confirmed cases of evidence tampering and lying in order to gain convictions. With corruption at these levels it is not difficult to understand how the Wilbert Coffin affair took shape.
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The original application for a review of this case in 1955 prior to the conviction of Wilbert Coffin contained certain evidence that even though it had been reported to police, complete with sworn statements, was never brought up or put forth at trial. Unfortunately the same evidence never got considered in the application to the government for review either. The federal government saw their way out and simply referred the case back to the Supreme Court of Canada who had already voiced their opinion on it. There was no instructions from the federal government for the court to consider the suppressed evidence, thus, the Supreme Court's decision remained the same. Wilbert Coffin was executed a few days later.
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It is obvious that the federal cabinet did not read the application. Their minds were already made up. I was not aware of the contents of the original application to cabinet. By documentation I am now aware. I shall be sharing this material with you in the next posting. In the documentation that I have, it was touted in 1955 as the information that could possibly save the life of Wilbert Coffin. It is imperative that this same evidence be re-submitted. Combined with other material that I have, I am confident that enough evidence exists to declare a new trial. That is what needs to be done. That is what should be done.
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Lew Stoddard
Host of Stoddard Online

9 comments:

Darlene Jeffries said...

Hi Mr. Stoddard,

I have just finished reading your latest posting. You may recall that I have expressed my comments on here in the past.

I am a journalism student and I have quoted you on a couple of occasions in the past. I am impressed with your writing style. You have an incredible ability to combine journalistic opinion with known proven fact without leading the reader astray.

You have been so dedicated to this cause, almost to the point of being unbelievable. I cannot begin to guess the amount of hours that you have consumed.

Keep up the good work Mr. Stoddard. I have one more year to go for my degree. Just landed a three month contract, writing for a community newspaper over the summer months.

Darlene Jeffries
Toronto, Canada

M. Atkins said...

The politicians have side stepped this case for a long time. Do not let them gat away with it.

This review thing, the vote they took in the Commons. The review was already in progress. The politicians came out of that looking so good. They did a wonderful job of casting aside any who might ask questions about this that could cause embarassment. They will start using the excuse now that there is an enquiry in progress so it would not be proper to comment at this time.

They hood winked all of us.

M. Atkins
Saskatoon

D. McKean said...

I agree with you Sir, if the evidence was suppressed at the original proceedings, then it is new evidence and should be heard. Stick with it.

David McKean
Hamilton

Bill Mercier said...

You did a fantastic editorial in this, the latest posting. You make much more sense than many of our big shot politicians. Too bad you were not around to climb onboard this thing about 53 years ago.

Bill Mercier
Trois Rivieres

Janice Culthane said...

I am certain that the key to this whole affair was probably contained in evidence that was unreported at trial. I am anxious to see your next post. My elderly Dad is very familiar with this event as he worked much of his younger life in the mines of Murdochville area of Quebec and was there when all this happened. I read your writings to him each time that you post a new episode. He wishes you and the Coffin family well.

Janice Culthane
Edmonton, Alberta

L. Byers said...

If it could be proven that the government purposely with held pertinent information, why should someone not be held legally and criminally responsible. In the opposite direction, the government would charge anyone with doing the same thing. Please do not give up.

L. Byers
Prince George

D Marcotte said...

Ever since I lived in the Gaspe region of Quebec as a youngster, my family and relatives and many others always felt that there were a lot of secrets there about this case that were never talked about. For what reason, I do not know. Perhaps fear of the authorities. Hopefully that will all change now finally.

Daphne Marcotte
Calgary, Alberta

Ann said...

For anyone to argue as to why you are seeking a turnover in this case after a lapse of some 50 years, they do not know what they are talking about.

If it were a member of their family, would they still be saying the same things? I think not.

Ann
Riviere du Loup

Anonymous said...

Lew, Great to see you plugging away at this still. I know if anything like this happened to a family member of mine I would definitely want you on our team.

I truly hope that all the hard work you have put into this pays off for the Coffin family, they deserve it after what they have had to endure, and you deserve it as pay back for all the hours of investigating you have put into this.

I happen to know you aren't in this for anything other than clearing an innocent mans name.

Lew you are a wonderful caring person as you have shown me many times.

Send me an email sometime, its been awhile!

From a friend on the other side of the world