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Strangling off-duty cop gave killer PTSD, defence tells sentencing judge

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  • HALIFAX — A lawyer for a Halifax man who strangled an off-duty police officer argues that his mental illness — brought on by the murder — should be a mitigating factor in deciding his parole eligibility.

    Christopher Garnier, 30, was convicted in December of second-degree murder and interfering with a dead body in the 2015 death of 36-year-old Catherine Campbell.

    The jury found that Garnier strangled Campbell, a Truro police officer, and used a compost bin to dump her body near a harbour bridge on Sept. 11, 2015, after the pair met at a Halifax bar.

    The murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence, but a hearing to determine when Garnier will be able to apply for parole is scheduled for Monday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

    In submissions filed with the court, defence lawyer Joel Pink said his client was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by a psychiatrist hired by the defence, Dr. Stephen Hucker, and by the psychologist who is currently treating him.

    The event that brought on the PTSD: the murder itself.

    Hucker, who testified at the trial, said in a report that Garnier suffered from acute stress disorder immediately following Campbell’s death, Pink noted.

    Garnier repeatedly told the jury he does not remember using a large green compost bin to dispose of the woman’s body near the bridge, where it stayed undetected for nearly five days.

    “The testimony of Dr. Hucker clearly indicates that there is a strong link between Mr. Garnier’s illness and his interference with human remains; therefore, it should be considered a mitigating factor in his sentencing (on that charge),” Pink said in his submissions to Justice Joshua Arnold.

    “Courts have consistently held that a sentencing court’s application to the principles of sentencing will be influenced by the presence of a mental illness. In such circumstances, the primary concern in sentencing shifts to treatment as the best means of ensuring the protection of the public and that the offending conduct is not repeated.”

    Parole eligibility for second-degree murder must be set between 10 and 25 years.

    Pink argues Garnier should serve 10 years behind bars — 10 years for the second-degree murder charge and two years for interfering with a dead body, with the sentences to be served concurrently.

    He said Garnier should be on the lower end of that spectrum because he has been described as a “kind, caring person” who has shown remorse for the killing, which Garnier has argued happened accidentally during rough sex. The lawyer also included 31 letters of support from friends and family.

    Garnier’s parole eligibility hearing was previously set for May, but it was adjourned in part to allow Hucker — who is based in Toronto — to testify.

    Meanwhile, the Crown is arguing Garnier should serve 16 years before he’s able to apply for parole, calling him “calculating,” “manipulative” and “dangerous.”

    “Mr. Garnier not only murdered Ms. Campbell, he interfered with Ms. Campbell’s remains. He demonstrated a callous disregard for Ms. Campbell, and made an attempt to cover his crime,” Crown lawyers Christine Driscoll and Carla Ball argued in their submissions to Arnold.

    “The message should be sent that Mr. Garnier should forever be remembered as the person who stole Ms. Campbell’s future for no reason, and then treated her remains like garbage.”

    The prosecution also noted that Campbell died in a “gruesome way, in that it would not have been quick and immediate.”

    “Her nose was broken, the cartilage in her neck was broken. He moved her body and concealed numerous pieces of evidence, some of which was never recovered,” the submissions said.

    “He should be remembered as someone who tried to cover up his crime. His parole eligibility period should reflect the nature of the offence, his future dangerousness, and deterrence.”

    The Crown has said as many as 10 victim impact statements have been filed as part of the hearing.

    Garnier is appealing his conviction in part because he says police interview tactics elicited a false confession.

    Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.

    Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press



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    National

    In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why.

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  • OTTAWA — On a historic Remembrance Day, a century after the end of the First World War, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a Paris crowd that decaying trust in public institutions will lead citizens to look for easy answers “in populism, in nationalism, in closing borders, in shutting down trade, in xenophobia.”

    The implication was clear: if nations turn in on themselves and treat outsiders as threats, we might again find ourselves in a bloody conflict with fronts all over the world.

    But a series of surveys suggest the idea of being a nationalist, and nationalism in general, are viewed fairly positively by most Canadians.

    What the data suggest is that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States, where the term is often linked with white-nationalist groups, and then with white supremacy and racism.

    Rather, Canadians appear to have constructed their view of nationalism on the idea of feeling connected to our country and ensuring that others feel connected as well — even as we watch the term pilloried globally.

    “It is used in different ways — when people are talking about the Trump nationalism, they would say (it’s) bad. But in Canada, they accept it because it is equated with certain communities and they see it as a way it’s helping vulnerable populations find their place in Canada,” said Kathy Brock, a political-studies professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

    “Canadians have just acclimatized to this dual view of nationalism.”

    In the 1950s and 1960s, Canadians often reported feeling greater attachments to their particular communities or ethnic groups than they did to the country. In the intervening years, connection to country has strengthened while connection to community has faded, said Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research Associates, a polling and market-research firm. The opposite has happened in Europe, he said.

    Research also suggests Canadians’ attachments to their ethnic groups have weakened over the last 20 years in favour of an attachment to country, Graves said, even as census data shows the country’s population is becoming ever more diverse.

    “We don’t have a common ethno-linguistic homogeneity that produces a definition of ‘the people.’ It’s more civic nationalism,” Graves said.

    “In Canada, national identity has been created through a dialogue between citizens and the state and the public institutions — medicare, the Mounties, Parliament Hill. It isn’t as much steeped in history or common race and identity, which probably inoculates it from some of the more disturbing expressions of nationalism.”

    Newly released survey data from the Association of Canadian Studies says that 60 per cent of respondents hold a somewhat or very positive view of nationalism, compared with about 45 per cent in the United States. The results were similar in both English and French Canada.

    There also appears to be an association between Canadians’ views on nationalism and their views on multiculturalism.

    “In contrast to the European idea of nationalism, having that ethnic component to it, most Canadians don’t see nationalism as ethnically driven. They see it more as a form of patriotism,” said Jack Jedwab, the association’s president. “It doesn’t intersect as much as it does in the European context with anti-immigrant sentiment, or a sentiment against diversity.”

    The Leger Marketing survey of 1,519 Canadians on a web panel was conducted for the association the week of Nov. 12. Online surveys traditionally are not given a margin of error because they are not random and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

    A day after his Nov. 11 comments, Trudeau was asked how he defined nationalism and where he saw it in Canada.

    “In Canada, we’ve demonstrated many times that identities are complimentary,” he said. “I’m an extremely proud Quebecer, I’m an extremely proud Canadian and like most Canadians, they don’t see a contradiction in that.”

    Experts say the more negative forms of nationalism are nevertheless simmering in Canada. Jedwab’s survey data suggest that respondents who have positive views of nationalism are somewhat more worried about immigration and security along the U.S. border than those who have negative views of nationalism.

    Part of what fuelled U.S. President Donald Trump’s political rise, and his populist rhetoric, was financial worry — or what Graves described as the idea of the everyman versus the corrupt elites. Brock said Canada has thus far avoided similar concerns about class and finances, particularly coming out of the recession a decade ago, and a similar rise of nationalist rhetoric.

    “Now, we’re facing some really serious economic challenges and if they come to pass, then we could see a different manifestation of this,” she said. “So I don’t think those (polling) figures are necessarily set in stone.”

    — Follow @jpress on Twitter.

    Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


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    National

    British Columbia trade trip to China cancelled over Meng detention

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  • VICTORIA — The detention of a top Huawei executive in Canada has derailed British Columbia’s trade mission to China.

    The delegation led by B.C. Forestry Minister Doug Donaldson will no longer be stopping in China, and will instead end its trip after a visit to Japan.

    The decision follows the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was detained while changing flights last week in Vancouver.

    “The Province of British Columbia has suspended the China leg of its Asian forestry trade mission due to the international judicial process underway relating to a senior official at Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.,” the province said in a statement, adding that British Columbia values its strong trade relationship with China.

    “It is anticipated that Minister Donaldson will work to reschedule events planned for the Chinese portion of this mission at the earliest convenient moment.”

    B.C. Trade Minister Bruce Ralston declined an interview request Sunday and Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The United States is seeking to have Meng extradited on allegations that she tried to evade American trade sanctions on Iran. A bail hearing began in Vancouver on Friday, and Meng is spending the weekend in jail before it continues next week.

    The Chinese government has warned Canada that if Meng is not released, the country will face “grave consequences.”

    A report by the official Xinhua News Agency carried on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website said that Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng called in Canadian Ambassador John McCallum on Saturday over Meng’s detention.

    Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies and has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns over its ties to the Chinese government. The U.S. has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.

    Le told McCallum that Meng’s detention at the request of the United States was a “severe violation” of her “legitimate rights and interests.”

    “Such a move ignores the law and is unreasonable, unconscionable, and vile in nature,” Le said in the statement.

    “China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained Huawei executive … or face grave consequences that the Canadian side should be held accountable for,” Le said.

    On Sunday, Le summoned U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad for a similar meeting, demanding Washington cancel the order for Meng’s arrest, Xinhua News Agency said.

    Le called the United States to “immediately correct its wrong actions” and said it would take further steps based on Washington’s response.

    The Canadian Press



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