Convicted killer and former Saskatchewan cabinet minister Colin Thatcher has written a new book that makes for compelling reading, indeed.
Final Appeal: Anatomy of a Frame isn’t likely to convince many readers that the Moose Jaw-area rancher is innocent of his ex-wife’s murder, but it does shed some light on one of Canada’s most interesting criminal cases.
If nothing else, the 380-page volume makes one wonder why someone as intelligent as the son of a former premier would become a party to murder.
Final Appeal doesn’t fully answer that question, but it does provide enough insight into Thatcher’s character to suggest that a person who thinks rather highly enough of himself just might be capable of some unusually evil thoughts and deeds.
Of course, Thatcher is hardly unique in that regard, and he’s quick in his book to point the finger of blame for the 22 years he spent incarcerated after being handed a 25-year prison sentence.
Not surprisingly, the media, police, judges, Crown prosecutors and prison guards are subject to much criticism in Final Appeal.
And if the allegations he makes about police conveniently losing crucial pieces of evidence and law-enforcement officials illegally listening to his phone calls with his lawyer are true, then one has to wonder if he got a fair trial.
As one writer observed recently in The Globe and Mail, when you add up all the shenanigans that Thatcher claims that police and prosecutors got up to in his case, maybe that should have led a jury to a reasonable doubt verdict.
That said, there appears to be more evidence that Thatcher was involved in the death of his former wife JoAnn than there is that he is innocent.
No one seems to believe Thatcher personally killed her — only that he arranged for her murder. In any case, it appears likely that the mystery man who bludgeoned and shot her to death in the garage of her Regina home will never be identified and held responsible.
In his book, Thatcher takes little responsibility for any of his actions — other than admitting to a few unspecified “indiscretions” during his marriage.
He may have been a bad husband, but he must have been something of a success as a father if, as he claims, his three children continue to support his claims of innocence in the death of their mother.
Among the more interesting revelations in Thatcher’s book are details about his treatment by police and prison guards.
He praises those who treated him fairly while spelling out in detail instances in which prison officials abused their authority.
Interestingly for Central Albertans, of all the various prisons he was housed in during his two decades on the inside, he appears most bitter about the time he spent at Bowden Institution.
“The staff, easily the most unpleasant I would encounter, were nasty, rude, confrontational, picky . . . generally non-professional and your prototypical Central Alberta rednecks,” he notes.
Today there is much controversy about whether the former Saskatchewan energy minister should be allowed to profit from his book.
That’s a tough call, but his book is definitely worth reading.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.