Hundreds descend on Quebec courthouses to protest Turcotte verdict
Published Saturday, August 6, 2011 6:21PM EDT
MONTREAL - Hundreds of protesters assembled at courthouses around Quebec early Saturday afternoon to protest the verdict handed down to cardiologist Guy Turcotte who was declared not-criminally responsible after stabbing his two young children to death as they slept.
Isabelle Gaston, the mother of the murdered children, was one of about present at the Montreal courthouse - by far the largest of the gatherings - where she calmly discussed the case and stated her disagreement with the verdict.
Those assembled were not typical of political protest crowds. Some were elderly and women appeared to outnumber men. All remained calm and many somberly raised placards on the sunny Saturday morning.
There were 14 protests planned through the province in such places as Montreal, Quebec City, St-Jerome, Granby and Longueuil.
In Montreal, protesters carried placards had such slogans as, "make criminals responsible for their actions," "solidarity for Anne-Sophie and Olivier." Many chanted and waved the placards.
In Quebec City, about 20 people were present at the courthouse at 12:00 p.m. to protest the verdict.
The protests were organized through a campaign on Facebook which attracted 23,000 likes on the social network. Such protests following a legal verdict are extremely rare in Quebec.
"I found it so sad to see a verdict like this after two children, just three and five were murdered," said Laurie, the 14-year-old organizer of the Montreal protest.
"I like to think that they are not only here for me and my children, that they are here for you, your sister, your brother, your mother," said Isabelle Gaston, whose two children were killed by her ex-husband Guy Turcotte.
Gaston wants the trial system reformed so that three psychiatrists would be employed to provide a professional evaluation in such cases.
One protester explained that she came to support a mother who was less fortunate than herself.
"I'm a mother, I'm a grandmother, I've had the chance to know my children and my four grandchildren," Francoise Nicolas told CTV Montreal. "Others haven't had that chance she says and I'm happy to support them."
Another challenged the logic of the verdict that saw the killer declared not-responsible for his actions.
"If you wanted to use that argument, you could use it for just about any criminal, you could use it for a rapist: ‘I raped five women but I wasn't there for the couple of minutes before I did it,'" said Darlene Ryan, who participated in the demonstration.
One lawyer present at the demonstration said that there is a need to beef up such trials with better conditions.
"If you provide them adequate working conditions and adequate finances, you're not going to have trials where we start to question whether the trial was well done," said Montreal lawyer Anne-France Goldwater.