Category Archives: News

Hump Day: Media censorship of accused’s name would accomplish nothing

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Recently, Sun News Network announced that they would no longer be using the name of Justin Bourque in their news reports on the Moncton shootings. Mr. Bourque has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Codiac RCMP officers Const. Fabrice Gévaudan, Const. Doug Larche and Const. Dave Ross, as well as the attempted murders of Const. Darlene Goguen and Const.Eric Dubois.

The network’s pledge to erase the alleged shooter’s name from their reporting was welcomed by many. I saw a number of friends post the announcement online,obviously quite pleased that they would not have to see the name in Sun News Network media reports. People need to remember, however, that Sun News Network has very little reach into New Brunswick. There will still be plenty of opportunities to see the name they would rather forget.

Should Mr. Bourque be found guilty, we will have to accept the fact his name will be popping up in media reports on a regular basis until his sentencing. Will there be a psychiatric assessment? Will he even plead guilty? Or will he plead not guilty, leading to a trial that will certainly bring more media attention to him than ever before? Only time will tell. It is my hope that if he is guilty and has one shred of decency left in him that he’ll save the families, RCMP officers and the community from reliving those 30 hours of hell all over again in meticulous and graphic courtroom detail.

Whatever the case, like any Canadian, he has constitutional rights that will be protected under the law. I trust that his legal counsel will ensure he gets a fair trial. I also trust that the Crown will be duly thorough in their case so as to avoid any technical errors that could lead to a mistrial.

The only way to ensure our fallen Codiac RCMP members get justice is to be painstakingly professional.Emotions are running high — as they should be with this tragedy so fresh in our minds. The best thing we can do as a community is to ensure that we cooperate with steely eyed determination in any way possible to ensure the right person is brought to justice. Should that be Mr. Bourque, then this is not the time for getting distracted by things that matter little, like having his name erased from media coverage. Making Sun News some sort of folk hero in all of this is like following rabbit tracks when we’re really hunting for moose.Sun News is pulling a public relations stunt. Don’t fall for it.

In effect, not reporting Justin Bourque’s name is akin to emotional censorship. It’s not up to the media to preclude that an attempt at infamy on his part was the reason he allegedly did what he did. It’s not the media’s call. Nor does it do society any favours by simply ignoring his name and not delving further into the reasons why he did this.

Knee-jerk reactions like, ‘I don’t ever want to hear or read his name again’ are certainly understandable, but it’s not realistic — and it’s certainly not good journalism to leave out key facts in stories because it upsets some people. This is an upsetting story -– to say the least. It’s a tragedy -– one of the biggest in Moncton’s history. For 48 hours,we were front-page headlines around the world.

The spine-chilling photo of Justin Bourque taken by Times & Transcript photographer Viktor Pivovarov was on the front page of many newspapers around the globe. It’s not every day that you see a heavily armed man dressed in camouflage walking down a quiet residential street. It’s a scene that I hope we never witness again. To pretend he didn’t have a name is not helping matters.

Ignoring Justin Bourque’s name is quite simply unprofessional from a journalistic standpoint.

censoredSweeping the name of something under the rug doesn’t make it go away. If you look at issues such as sexual abuse or domestic violence, these issues were repressed for years because people refused to discuss them. How else can we deal with them if we don’t tackle them head on and call them for what they are? Crimes.

Each of us, however, can control our own surroundings. We can make conscious decisions of not mentioning his name in conversations or in social media, if that is what you choose. That is well within everyone’s rights – but demanding media censorship of a name that has allegedly caused so much damage is out of line and inappropriate. It is emotion gone wild. At some point, professionalism needs to prevail – like when the RCMP arrested Mr. Bourque just after midnight on June 6. I would assume the arresting offers weren’t terribly interested in treating him gently – at least at an emotional level. By all accounts, however, they were absolutely professional – as we would expect.

It has been one of the worst weeks in the history of Moncton. We will prevail, however – and we will do so by meeting the issues in society that led to this tragedy in a manner that is head on. We won’t prevent future incidents by pretending they don’t exist or by emotion-driven censorship. Burying our heads in the sand just means that our behinds are sticking up in the air and an easy target for the next ruthless anarchist.

I understand the desire to condemn, but if we as a community head into this with emotion trumping professionalism, we run the risk of making a mistake that could prevent justice from being served. I have every confidence that professionalism will get us much further than emotion. Public relations stunts – not so much. Don’t take the bait.

In memoriam: Const. Doug Larche, Const. Dave Ross, Const. Fabrice Gevaudan

Const. Doug Larche, Const. Dave Ross, Const. Fabrice Gevaudan.
Const. Doug Larche, Const. Dave Ross, Const. Fabrice Gevaudan.

On the evening of Wednesday, June 4, five Codiac RCMP officers serving the Greater Moncton area were ambushed in Moncton and shot by a gunman. Justin Bourque was arrested 30 hours later after an intense manhunt which made international headlines. Three of the five officers died.

The fallen officers seen above are (in order): Const. Doug Larche, Const. Dave Ross and Const. Fabrice Gevaudan.

The injured officers are Const. Darlene Goguen and Const. Eric Dubois. They are recovering.

I worked for the RCMP as a federal civil servant several years ago and gained much respect for the force – a respect that has only grown throughout the years. When there is danger and people are running from it, they are running toward it. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the constables’ families, friends and fellow officers.

I am honoured to be working with CBC Radio Moncton Information Morning host Jonna Brewer offering commentary during CBC Radio’s live broadcast of the regimental funeral being held on Tuesday, June 10, beginning at 1 p.m. Listeners can tune in at 106.1 FM.

Moncton City Councillor Merrill Henderson dies

Merrill Henderson
Merrill Henderson

Along with other Monctonians, I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Ward 2 Councillor Merrill Henderson today. Merrill suffered a major stroke last week and had been hospital since then. He was also a dedicated Rotarian and was a ticket-selling legend who raised thousands of dollars for Rotary projects over the years.

I send along my deepest condolences to Merrill’s family, friends, colleagues on Moncton City Council, Ward 2 residents, and my fellow Rotarians in Merrill’s home club of Moncton West and Riverview Rotary.

Rest in peace, Merrill. Moncton will miss you.

Click here to read the news release issued by the City of Moncton.