Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Coast to coast crime

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This past week, our good friends at the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party unleashed a direct-mail campaign accusing the NDP government of being soft on crime. "Your family is not safe!" the Tory pamphlet blared out. The ad campaign is really a triumph of hyperbole over fact, but that's politics for you. However, in light of the Tory campaign to get us to stay indoors, all the time, I thought I'd dust off a greatest hit from last year's blogging posts.A while back, I took a Saturday morning and surveyed every major daily newspaper in the country to come up with the worst crime story in each paper that day. I wanted to show some of the chicken little's in Winnipeg that crime is a problem EVERYWHERE, not just in our fair city. So happy, was I, with the results that I promised to myself I'd do it again. So without further delay, here is another instalment of coast-to-coast crime:In St. John's, Newfoundland, police are still looking for the people responsible for the slaying of a 12-year-old girl. As you can see in this story from the St. John's Telegram, the investigation is not going very well.In Fredericton, New Brunswick, the provincial government is on the hot seat in this story from the Daily Gleaner detailing how the family of a mentally ill teenager have aunched a lawsuit for failing to protect their son. The boy was jailed, sexually abused and restrained with the use of Tasers while in the custody of provincial officials.In Montreal, Quebec a senior city police officer was fined $750 for punching a suspect in custody. The story in the Montreal Gazette notes that the judge in the case was quite concerned the officer, with more than two decades experience, was the officer in charge on the night in question.In Toronto, we find chilling account in the Toronto Star of a first-degree murder conviction of three gang members who shot another man in revenge for an earlier killing. Particularly chilling is the account of the reaction of the three men when the judge imposed the automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.Although it's not really a tale of horrific crime, this story from Regina certainly adds a new twist to an old crime. Six first nation men on trial for running a pot grow-op argued they were producing the illegal herb as traditional medicine for first nation people. First nation readers of the Leader Post weren't buying it, as you can see in this well-written story.In Calgary, the streets may be paved with black gold, but there are still homeless people and one died in a shelter last week after being savagely beaten, as you can see in this account in the Calgary Herald.In Vancouver, the gangland executions just keep on coming. In this horrifying story in the Vancouver Sun, we learn about how a man was shot to death as he sat in a minivan downtown. Police are calling this a targeted attack.The Tories may think it's not safe anywhere in Manitoba, but I think most people in Manitoba and throughout the country realize they are not in immediate danger. Yes, crime sucks. But so does fear mongering.-30-

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.


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