Federal Court overturns farmer Robert Latimer’s travel restrictions

A Federal Court judge has overturned a parole board condition that bars Robert Latimer from travelling freely outside Canada without pre-approval.

VANCOUVER — A Federal Court judge has overturned a parole board condition that bars Robert Latimer from travelling freely outside Canada without pre-approval.

In a ruling released Tuesday, Judge Michael Manson concluded there is nothing to indicate the 60-year-old Saskatchewan farmer should be prevented from leaving the country or that he poses a danger to society.

“I cannot discern any basis for the appeal board to find that Mr. Latimer poses any risk to any persons inside or outside of Canada, or that an elimination of reporting requirements for international travel would present any real risk to public safety or adversely affect the protection of society,” he said in the written ruling.

Manson has ordered the parole board’s appeal division to reconsider the case.

Latimer was convicted in 1997 of the second-degree murder of his 12-year-old daughter Tracy by piping exhaust into the cab of his truck on the family farm in Wilkie, Sask.

Tracy Latimer had severe cerebral palsy, and Latimer has always said he wanted to end her agony.

He was sentenced to life in prison and released on full parole, with some conditions, in 2010.

In June 2013, a parole board panel denied Latimer’s request to leave Canada without having to apply first for a limited-time passport.

Latimer appealed the decision in November of that year but the ban was upheld by the appeal board so he applied for a judicial review. His application was heard in Federal Court in Vancouver two weeks ago.

Manson said in his decision that the parole board is supposed to consider the least restrictive release possible for an offender.

He said the board and its appeal division did not exercise discretion in Latimer’s case in a reasonable manner, given that his parole team had determined Latimer has demonstrated positive behaviour in the community, poses limited risks of reoffending and has always complied with his parole conditions.

“That finding … and after considering all relevant information, leads me to conclude that the board and appeal board did not exercise their broad discretion in a reasonable, transparent or intelligible manner,” Manson said.

“The board and appeal board cannot exercise discretion based on an arbitrary or punitive basis.”

The Attorney General of Canada had argued the travel ban was warranted because positive assessments from Latimer’s parole team don’t necessarily outweigh the gravity of his crime, the court document said.

It also said the parole board’s decision not to lift Latimer’s travel ban is within the “range of acceptable outcomes available to the board in light of the relevant information of the applicant’s case.”

Latimer’s lawyer, Jason Gratl, said he is pleased with the Federal Court decision because he believes his client poses no risk to public safety.

“It’s just a situation where Mr. Latimer has complied with every restriction placed on him for 20 years, whether it’s bail conditions or institutional setting or parole condition,” he said in an interview. “There’s just nothing to fear from Mr. Latimer.”

Should the parole board lift the travel restriction, Latimer would inform his parole officer about any travel plans and maintain contact by phone when he’s abroad, Gratl said.

He said Latimer is “quite delighted” with Tuesday’s court decision, and if the travel ban is lifted, he will likely go to Central America because of his interest in ancient ruins.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

Kris Sturgess with Calgary Ghostbusters. (Photo from GoFundMe)
GoFundMe account salutes Red Deer prop builder

Kris Sturgess died unexpectedly April 28

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas talks with his players during a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match against Mexico's Cruz Azul at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Fernando Llano
Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Gymnastics Canada skipping Olympic qualifier because of COVID-19 concerns

Gymnastics Canada skipping Olympic qualifier because of COVID-19 concerns

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships, in Montreal, Thursday, July 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
After pregnancy, injuries and a pandemic, Bishop-Nriagu finally hitting her stride

After pregnancy, injuries and a pandemic, Bishop-Nriagu finally hitting her stride

Lille's Burak Yilmaz, center, reacts with teammates after scoring during their French League One soccer match between Lille and Nice in Villeneuve d'Ascq, northern France, Saturday May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
Canada’s Jonathan David scores milestone goal as Lille moves 4 points ahead of PSG

Canada’s Jonathan David scores milestone goal as Lille moves 4 points ahead of PSG

Jean Carlo Salas of Costa Rica vies for the ball with Canada's Ian Bennett (right) during a CONCACAF Futsal Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CONCACAF-Norvin Mendoza MANDATORY CREDIT
Canada denied a trip to the FIFA Futsal World Cup in penalty shootout loss to Panama

Canada denied a trip to the FIFA Futsal World Cup in penalty shootout loss to Panama

Canadian Stephen Ames one shot back of leaders at Regions Tradition

Canadian Stephen Ames one shot back of leaders at Regions Tradition

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson leaves the ice after defeating China at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Friday, May 7, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson beats China 6-4, qualifies for playoffs at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Einarson beats China 6-4, qualifies for playoffs at world curling playdowns

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks to a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday May 4, 2021. A broad coalition of MPs from all five parties wants the federal government to support waiving the global rules that guard vaccine trade secrets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
As MPs urge support, Trudeau demurs on whether government backs COVID-19 waiver

As MPs urge support, Trudeau demurs on whether government backs COVID-19 waiver

Most Read