POLITICS

Robert Latimer appeals parole board decision restricting international travel

01/12/2015 03:55 EST | Updated 03/14/2015 05:59 EDT
The lawyer for Robert Latimer says his client is appealing a parole board decision that prevents him from travelling freely outside Canada.

A Federal Court judge ruled in September that there was nothing to indicate the 60-year-old Saskatchewan farmer is a danger and should be prevented from travelling internationally.

The judge ordered the Parole Board of Canada's appeal division to reconsider the case.

But in November, the board said it wouldn't lift the restriction, ruling Latimer has yet to show that he is capable of reporting to authorities with complete transparency.

Lawyer Jason Gratl said Monday his client is being deprived of reasonable parole conditions.

"I'm deeply troubled by the pattern that's emerging of the Parole Board of Canada ignoring what judges have had to say about Mr. Latimer and the fact that he doesn't pose a risk to society," Gratl said.

Latimer was given a life sentence for the 1993 second-degree murder of his 12-year-old daughter, Tracy, who had severe cerebral palsy. He put her in the cab of his truck on his family's farm near Wilkie, Sask., and piped exhaust inside.

Latimer has always said he wanted to end his child's chronic, excruciating pain.

He was released on full parole, with some conditions, in 2010.

The board denied Latimer's request in 2013 to leave Canada without first applying for a limited-time passport. He appealed that ruling and it was upheld by the board's appeal division. He then took his case to the Federal Court in Vancouver.

"(Judge Michael Manson) found there was no evidence sufficient to deprive Mr. Latimer of the right to travel internationally," Gratl said. "What has occurred, though, is on reconsideration, perhaps failing to take into account Mr. Justice Manson's reasons for judgment, the Parole Board of Canada has again refused to lift the international travel restriction for Mr. Latimer's terms of release."

In its decision, the board said that although Latimer is a low risk to society, "a level of risk continues to be present."

"It is concerning to the board ... that we read on file that there has been no change in your thinking and level of rationalization which led to the offence," the board wrote in November.

"You continue to deny this was a murder and believe what you did was the right thing to do. This represents a level of risk."

Gratl said the appeal was submitted Dec. 29 and it could take several weeks for a decision. He added that his client will continue to appeal the travel restriction if the latest attempt is unsuccessful.

"I think we're approaching the point where it might be fair for a reasonable observer to conclude that the Parole Board of Canada has something of a vendetta against Mr. Latimer," Gratl said. "They continue to deprive him of reasonable conditions of parole on the basis of no evidence, or flimsy evidence."

Gratl has said that if the travel restriction were lifted, Latimer would still inform his parole officer of travel plans and maintain contact by phone while abroad.