Barbara Kay: Nicole Doucet is innocent, by reason of gender
National Post - Tuesday July 2nd, 2013
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada stayed proceedings against Nicole Doucet, who sought to hire at least one hit-man to kill her then-husband, Mike Ryan. Eight of the nine Justices accepted the unproven contention that Doucet “was the victim of a violent, abusive and controlling husband,” and that “she believed that he would cause her and their daughter serious bodily harm or death and that she had no safe avenue of escape other than having him killed.”
In response, Dalhousie University law professor Archibald Kaiser is calling for a public inquiry to rectify what he is calling a “stain on the justice system.”
A stay of proceedings, he writes in the journal Criminal Reports, has no precedent “without an abuse of process or charter violation” — and neither element is present here. Professor Kaiser adds: “In [the case of Doucet-Ryan], the courts lost their vision of the nature of Canadian society and the function of the criminal law.”
But did they lose their vision, or were they in fact honouring the prevailing — which is to say, feminist — vision of Canadian society? By this I mean the received wisdom that women’s historic disadvantages justify present-day special treatment.
According to this vision, which manifests itself regularly in Canadian family courts, for example, it is understood that when female allegations of domestic violence colour the narrative, even if unsupported by evidence, social-justice considerations may supersede the principle of equality under the law.
At the original Nova Scotia trial, the case against Doucet was seen as such a slam-dunk for the prosecution (one of the men whom Doucet thought was a hit-man was actually an RCMP undercover agent) that prosecutor Peter Craig failed to call witnesses — including husband Mike Ryan, who was ready and willing to offer evidence to counter Doucet’s battered-wife defence.
So what else but ideology can explain the eight Supreme Court of Canada justices’ decision?
Consider that, through her scheme, Doucet stood to gain several properties, death benefits and a pension. According to the RCMP, Ryan “was worth over a million dollars [to Doucet] dead.” A taped telephone conversation between Ryan and a decidedly unfearful, sarcastic Doucet makes it clear that Doucet was enraged by Ryan’s new relationship. Even a direct question by Ryan during that conversation — “How did I abuse you?” — failed to elicit an allegation of physical abuse.
Doucet allegedly had tried to run her sister over with a car only three years previously. And according to the Factum of the Crown, Doucet was indifferent to collateral damage arising from the assassination of her husband: “[She] appeared to indicate that if it was necessary to kill [her husband’s] girlfriend as well, that would be acceptable to her.”
A forensic report following a psychiatric assessment of Doucet found “avoidant and dependent personality traits,” and also: “discrepancies between her account of events … and statements made to the undercover officer.” According to this report, Doucet “denied that her husband had ever been physically abusive to her or had threatened to kill her.”
Doucet was kept out of prison for one reason only: because of her sex. Let’s have that public inquiry.