TORONTO - The family of a police officer, who bled to death 30 years ago while his killer taunted police, pleaded Wednesday for changes to privacy laws that hide information on which the murderer made a partially successful bid for parole.
Backed by police groups across the country, the widow and now grown children of Toronto Const. Michael Sweet said Craig Munro's prison records should be as public as the killing was.
"Mike was murdered in a public place; Craig Munro's trial was public information; Craig Munro's sentencing was public information," said Sweet's widow, Karen Fraser.
"However, as soon as Craig Munro was in prison, all information concerning Craig Munro became private information under the federal government's Privacy Act."
In winning four unescorted passes into Kelowna, B.C., from his jail in Agassiz, B.C., Munro, 58, claimed to have reformed and accepted responsibility for his crime.
He told a two-member National Parole Board hearing last month that he was drunk and high during the standoff, and didn't realize Sweet was dying while he and his brother kept police at bay.
Sweet's family believes otherwise, pointing out that a three-member parole board nixed his release bid a year ago believing he was still dangerous.
Privacy laws prevent the public from learning the results of Munro's psychological testing or the information the two-member panel relied on in March in granting him unescorted passes.
At the same time, Fraser said as her three daughters looked on, the National Parole Board and Correctional Service of Canada are able to "hide behind" the privacy rules.
"We're not even allowed a transcript of these hearings," Fraser said, speaking out publicly for the first time.
"Every Canadian deserves to know who is being released back into our community and how the parole board has made their decision."
The family is also calling for an end to annual parole hearings for violent offenders, arguing victims are constantly forced to relive the trauma of their loss.
"My dad... would be horrified to know that his wife and his girls are having to deal with the torture of facing Craig Munro again and again," said Nicole Sweet, who was almost two years old when her father was killed.
Munro is serving a life sentence for Sweet's first-degree murder on March 14, 1980. The officer was responding to a late-night tavern robbery. Munro was on mandatory supervision at the time.
He applied for early parole in 1997 under the "faint-hope" clause but withdrew the bid after a public outcry.
A psychological assessment last year concluded he had antisocial personality disorder.
Tim Danson, the Sweet family's lawyer, said the public interest needs to outweigh Munro's privacy interest.
"How do we know that there isn't manipulation and deception if we can't see the records upon which decisions are made?" Danson said.
"You can't be partly pregnant - once public always public."
The family has formally requested Munro's information, which can be released only if he consents.
Danson said the records, if turned over, would be made public so Canadians can judge the parole board's workings for themselves.
Munro's brother Jamie was convicted of second-degree murder and released in 1992. He is believed to be living in Italy.
"Everybody is so busy worrying about prisoner rights that they've forgotten about ours," said Kim Sweet, another of the officer's daughters.
"When my dad was killed, I was sentenced to a life that will forever be marked by pain, sadness and a huge sense of loss."
h1. EXECUTIVE DIGEST
h2. Apr 08 2010
HALIFAX - Whether it’s a Mountie giving a speeding ticket on the highway or paramedics responding to a car crash, a new law will require approaching drivers in Nova Scotia to slow down, starting May 1. Page 3
h2. Apr 09 2010
OTTAWA – Transport Canada has quietly eliminated funding to the country’s major airports to hire police officers to patrol the terminals, a move that leaves passengers stuck with the bill. Page 4
h2. Apr 10 2010
VICTORIA - B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed announced yesterday he is under investigation by the RCMP and is stepping down, becoming the third solicitor general to resign in the province in the past 25 months. Page 5
h2. Apr 10 2010
MONTREAL - Quebec health officials are warning that cocaine cut with an anti-parasitic medication is hitting the streets in the province and can cause a severe adverse reaction in illicit drug users. Page 6
h2. Apr 14 2010
SYDNEY, N.S. - A Cape Breton reserve where a Mountie shot and killed a resident inside his home more than a year ago has negotiated a new policing agreement with the RCMP despite deep mistrust in the community about the force. Page 12
h2. Apr 15 2010
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. - The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has been named the best dressed Canadian police agency by the industry folk who make the uniforms. Page 13