When reasonable people yearned for the death penalty

The big news: Travis Baumgartner locked up for 40 years without parole

Jason Franson/CP

Travis Baumgartner, a 22-year-old armoured car guard, was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison with no chance of parole. No one in Canada has served that harsh a prison term since the country was still executing its convicted criminals. Then again, few Canadians have murdered three of their co-workers, nearly missed killing a fourth, and run away with about $400,000 that was sitting in the team’s armoured car.

Forty years with no chance of parole was actually the result of a plea deal. The judge could have laid down a 75-year sentence, but Baumgartner benefited from several factors, which the National Post reports included his “age, his lack of a criminal record, and his willingness to plead guilty.” So he spends every day until his early 60s behind bars.

Baumgartner’s punishment wasn’t enough for many of his victims’ families. They remind us that, no matter how often we applaud ourselves for collective tolerance, or whatever we choose to call our rejection of the death penalty, reasonable people who’ve suffered terribly speak what sounds unthinkable to so many of us.

“My way of justice is back in the old days—hang him,” said Joseph Rejano, the brother of one of the murdered guards. “I think he should just be taken out behind the shed and put down, personally,” said Victor Shegelski, the husband of another murdered guard. Janet Stosky, the aunt of a murdered guard, was the most diplomatic among the crowd. “I am not sure, when you are going through this level of pain, if you can ever feel satisfied with the justice that is available,” she said.

Talk about restraint.

What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail  Quebec’s government wants the private sector to adopt its secular charter.
National Post  Gérard Bouchard says the PQ is responsible for Quebecers’ cultural anxiety.
Toronto Star  Thousands of medical scans are being reviewed due to possible errors.
Ottawa Citizen  The Conservative Party’s lawyer sat in on robocall witness interviews.
CBC News  The Syrian government has complicated Barack Obama’s case for a strike.
CTV News  Prince William has left active duty with the Royal Air Force.
National Newswatch  Canada’s undelivered fleet of new helicopters has already cost $1 billion.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Canadian miners. If Romanian politicians don’t approve a billion-dollar mine proposed by Canadian firm Gabriel Resources, the company says it will launch a billion-dollar lawsuit that claims the Romanians are violating a series of foreign investment treaties. Gabriel claims its case is strong and that Romania’s “effort to attract foreign investment will suffer greatly.”
THE GLOBAL China in Africa. Chinese state broadcasters are investing heavily in their own bureaux, as well as stakes in existing African media, on multiple platforms in a spate of countries. They’re using their newfound influence to broadcast a pro-China agenda across the continent. African journalists are concerned that Chinese investors will attempt to censor editorial content.
THE QUIRKY Impaired driving. A 34-year-old Alberta man was stopped by police for driving without licence plates on his vehicle, which was hauling a horse trailer. The cops realized shortly thereafter that the man’s blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit. They towed his vehicle and trailer, and the man, who still needed to get home, rode his horse about 30 kilometres.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.