Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Jan. 29, 2014)

“A High Risk to Re-Offend”

By Bob Cooper


In 1971, the late Solicitor-General Jean Pierre Goyer announced that, henceforth, rehabilitation of convicts would be stressed over the protection of society.  The top management of Corrections Canada and the National Parole Board took to this new philosophy like a duck to water and they’ve been happily marching to that tune ever since.

Goyer’s boss, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau would be dancing a jig tonight.  The National Parole Board has honored his proud legacy once again by ordering passes for 66 year old cop-killer Steven Leclair.  For my younger readers, Leclair, who already had a lengthy, violent record, was ejected from the Palace Hotel Beer Parlor at 37 West Hastings on a warm Friday night in 1980.  He told the 2 waiters that threw him out that he would come back and kill them.  True to his word, he returned a short time later with a Colt .45 and opened fire, killing one of the waiters, an innocent female patron who was seated nearby, and the manager who he had to lean over the bar to shoot in the head.  He also shot and wounded another patron before fleeing and forcing a taxi to drive him to the Richmond RCMP Detachment at gunpoint.  There, he walked up to the front counter and without warning shot Constable Tom Agar in the chest killing him instantly.  He then shot Constable Wayne Hanniman in the leg but Const. Hanniman managed to return fire wounding Leclair who was captured seconds later after cowardly throwing down his gun.  Const. Agar, 26, left a pregnant widow and a young daughter.

Both my colleague Leo Knight and I recall that night very well. 

I was with Joint Forces at the Coordinated Law Enforcement Unit and my crew had gone to the RCMP Mess at 33rd and Heather for a beer after work.  OK, it may have been a few minutes before quitting time.  One of the secretaries came running out in tears and told us that a member had just been shot and killed in Richmond.  Leo, who had just come to the VPD from the RCMP was working the skid road that night and wrote the following column a couple of years ago:  Dangers of the job

Now I happen to think that even by National Parole Board standards this decision is cavalier and reckless but don’t take my word for it, let’s look at their own words.

After describing his crimes as among the “most heinous in BC history” the Board concludes that Leclair remains “a high risk to reoffend violently both generally and in intimate relationships”.  So, leaving aside the general danger to the public, they single out ‘intimate relationships’ as being particularly perilous then let him out of prison for the specific purpose of engaging in an ‘intimate relationship’ with his wife who he married while in prison.

They go on to say “You do not have the support of your (case management team) and psychological opinion indicates that you still have deficits in emotional regulation.”  For us ordinary folks ‘deficits in emotional regulation’ means lack of self-control and for those unfamiliar with our prison system, when a convict’s Case Management Team and prison psychologists don’t support his release the alarm bells should be clanging like a railroad crossing.  That’s alright, just put on those noise-cancelling headphones and keep opening those cell doors.  ‘Rehabilitation uber alles’.

Remember as well, Leclair has never explained why he did what he did nor has he taken any responsibility for it.  Most believe that ‘rehabilitation’ requires both of these things to occur but the Board soldiers on citing a “stable and positive relationship with his wife”.  Are they kidding?  He’s seen her outside of prison a total of twice.  For 8 hours apiece.  He’s still in the honeymoon stage.  On his best behavior.  Wait till she overcooks the roast some night or he grows weary of being nagged about getting a job or leaving the toilet seat up.

Other feeble attempts at justification include the support of his church and that he has not seriously acted out violently while in prison.  I note they qualify this with the word “seriously” without being any more specific meaning there’s something they’re not telling us.  Another supposed tick in the Plus column is that he hasn’t had a drink in 30 years.  One marvels at how he resisted the temptation.  I wasn’t aware they’d introduced Happy Hour into the prison system (though it wouldn’t surprise me).  ‘Will that be straight up sir, or on the rocks?’

Then they top it off with this beauty.  “These special conditions are reasonable and necessary to protect society and to assist with your reintegration as a law-abiding citizen.”  Why, we certainly wouldn’t want to be unreasonable, now would we?  With 4 murders under his belt the ‘reasonable’ decision is that he should never draw a free breath but this bunch thinks they have to somehow justify putting conditions on him.

The bottom line on all of this is that they don’t care. They cling to this ‘reintegration’ mantra so strongly that even when, by their own admission, the odds of Leclair killing again are so high that the most foolish gambler on earth wouldn’t bet against them, they’ll roll the dice.

Baby needs a new pair of shoes.



Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



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