Stanley Yaren responds to Justice Minister Andrew Swan

Re: Security must be tighter for Li, justice minister says (June 4). The provincial government’s reaction to the granting of a carefully considered slight increase in the liberty of Vincent Li as articulated by Justice Minister Andrew Swan is an example of the worst kind of political pandering and fear-mongering. It demonstrates a shocking lack of understanding of mental illness.

Swan joins those members of the public who would return to the days when the mentally ill were cast out of society to be incarcerated in prisons and asylums, never to see the light of day. The fact is that recovery from mental illness is possible and fortunately so because 20 per cent of the population may at some point require hospitalization for a mental disorder.

While the pain, suffering and anger of all those affected by this tragic episode is understandable, it is the reaction by this government and not the Criminal Code Review Board decision that is inappropriate. The chair, John Stephaniuk, and the members take their job very seriously and are, in my experience, a diligent, knowledgeable and thoughtful group of men and women. Criticism of the board for acting responsibly is unwarranted and improper political interference in the judicial process.

The attitude towards mental illness by some members of the public and as reflected by Swan’s remarks is stigmatizing and hurtful to people and their families living with mental disorders. Stigma and fear create barriers to treatment. They prevent individuals such as Li from seeking early intervention for mental-health issues that may have prevented this tragedy from ever occurring.

By far, most people living with mental illness are not violent, and when they are, it is usually the result of inadequate or no treatment. Rather than investing money in a fence around Selkirk Mental Health Centre, the government would do much more to prevent the uncommon occurrence of violence by mentally ill individuals by joining the efforts of the Mental Health Commission of Canada in reducing stigma and by investing in improving access to mental health treatment.


Canadian Psychiatric Association

One thought on “Stanley Yaren responds to Justice Minister Andrew Swan”

  1. Yaren is worried people like Li might not get treatment because of the attitudes of the public? The public is worried people like Li ARE getting treatment – from people like Yaren. Yaren was treating Li when Tim was killed. Discrimination from the public isn’t stopping people from getting help. High-minded megalomaniacs like Yaren offer “help” but have nothing useful to give. He thinks he knows everything. He thinks he’s better than everybody else and knows better than everybody else. If there was ever a case for firing a man for incompetence, it’s Yaren. And not just Li – how many of his patients have committed suicide? How many have gone on to commit more crimes, and worse crimes? Maybe if he had an ounce of decency in him, he could pass it along to his patients, but he doesn’t. He’s poison. The arrogance is astonishing. We don’t need you.

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