THE PICKTON VERDICT: DOES IT MEAN ANYTHING?

Of course it means that serial killer Robert Pickton will likely remain behind bars for the rest of his life. It also means that the families of the six women he is convicted of murdering will experience a measure of relief.

But what about the larger picture? Does the Pickton verdict provide any more safety for the thousands of Canadian women who virtually live on the streets in Vancouver and elsewhere?

The tragic fact is there are now more women in East side Vancouver living or working in the streets than when Robert Pickton cruised the neighborhood. They are easy victims of violence because their poverty has forced them onto the streets. In the past few years in Vancouver homelessness amongst women has increased by 60 per cent.

Since 2002, 16,000 women have been kicked off social assistance in British Columbia. Under provincial regulations a single mother who has been getting social assistance will lose that support when her child turns three. Social workers says that is why a lot of single mothers who can’t find work and can’t afford child care, end up turning tricks on the street.

Wouldn’t the Pickton trial have some real meaning if governments and social agencies used it as a spring board for dealing with the root causes of much violence against women – homelessness and poverty.

Some creative thinking is needed. Like the initiative right here in Montreal called Project Chance. It is a program whereby single mothers with children live in a shelter and go back to school to obtain a degree. Thus they acquire job skills and become productive citizens. Without Project Chance many of them might end up on the streets subject to the violence of predators like Robert Pickton.

Does the Pickton case have any meaning for you?

Is there any way to reduce violence against women forced onto the streets?

Should the Crown spend millions more of taxpayer dollars to try Pickton for the killing of 20 more women?

8 Comments »

  1. 1
    John Says:

    Neil, I agree that spending millions of dollars to try Pickton for further murders could be better spent. The challenge, however, will be in providing closure for the families of the other 20 women.

    The whole issue of poverty in Canada, especially among women and children, needs to be addressed in a serious way. Like many things, there seems to be more talk than action. Didn’t I hear something recently from Stephane Dion on this topic?

    Two thumbs up to all those involved in the Project Chance program. Sounds great. We need more of this. Spread the word.

  2. 2
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    How to reduce violence against women forced into the streets? Much of your blog this morning, Neil, reads like a press release from the National Rifle Association. Although I myself have never fired a gun in my life (let alone held one) I understand that possession of one empowers the owner; for women, it’s a great equalizer and I must assume that women forced on to the street and subject to violence would find this true. The NRA claims that when concealed weapon laws are passed in a state, the crime rate shoots down. Well, the #1 demographic for the purchase of handguns in many states in recent years are women between the ages of 18 and 34.

  3. 3

    John:

    Yes, earlier this fall Stephane Dion made a major speech which outlined how he hopes to reduce child poverty by 30 per cent. I think he will be stressing social policies of that kind during the next election campaign.

    Tony:

    I intended that my blog this morning would emphasize the need for social policies to help women stay off the streets. I don’t have much truck or trade with the National Rifle Association and I certainly don’t see the arming of women as any kind of solution to violence on the streets if indeed that is what you are suggesting.

  4. 4
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    If more guns were a crime deterrent, the USA would be crime free considering there are almost more guns than citizens south of the border.
    DID YOU NOTICE THAT MOST OF PICTON’S VICTIMS WERE INDIGENOUS WOMEN. Of course those people are expendable and not worth much investment. Had they been white women the RCMP would have been on the case much earlier and the number of murders may not have reached so high before an arrest was made.
    Several studies here and in the USA have established that a 1$ invested in drug prevention and drug treatment saves 7$ down the road. But that on the long haul. All our politicians understand is the short term and the vote getting initiatives. getting a prostitute off the street is not glamourous and not a photo op.

  5. 5
    Chimera Says:

    “Is there any way to reduce violence against women forced onto the streets?”

    Two ways I can think of immediately — and they are not the only two ways, by any means, but they’re a start:

    Legalize and de-stigmatize prostitution. Stop wrinkling pious noses at women who have nothing more to sell (or rent, really) than that with which they were born, their bodies, and their willingness to accomodate the sexual hunger of a stranger who is willing to pay for the privilege. I honestly will never understand the need for some people to denigrate prostitutes. I guess some people just need to feel morally superior to someone due to an emptiness in their own lives, and prostitutes got the smelly end of the stick. I can’t help wondering what kind of society we’d be living in if, instead of prostitues, we all looked down our noses at bankers.

    Decriminalize drugs, their use, and their production. If I want to pickle my liver in alcohol, it’s my choice because it’s legal. And as long as I don’t cause harm to anyone else, nobody has the right to tell me no. If I can function at my job, my boss will have no excuse to fire me, even if he’s a teetotaler. And people are free to associate with me or not, depending on their own outlook on booze. We need to do the same for drugs.

    That’s a rough start, and without much detail, but acting on those two suggestions alone might have a lot to do with the prevention of any more similar killings — and the “hands off” attitude of law enforcement, just because they were prostitues and on drugs.

    Personally, I was disappointed in the verdict. I thought it should have been first-degree murder, but the defense did its job well enough to cast doubt in the minds of the jurors that Picton was intelligent enough to form specific intention before the fact. If it were up to me, I’d give him a taste of his own medicine and feed his remains to his own pigs!

  6. 6
    John Says:

    Ah, but Chimera, as Voltaire once said, “Common sense is not so common.”

  7. 7
    Chimera Says:

    LOL! I guess that’s why I rarely appeal to “common sense.” So few people have ever experienced it that most would not know it if it sat on their laps and danced for them!

  8. 8
    Joe Agnost Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Chimera!

    The (law enforcement) time/money our gov’t WASTES fighting prostitutes and drugs is ridiculous – and in the case of drugs, imagine how much money taxing drugs would bring in!!

    Imagine a world with a little more common sense!


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