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Events from this past week

Once in a while stories arise that I feel need further mention in our weekly column, this week two stories in particular caught my attention. The first being the sentencing of 58 year old Roger Clement who in May of this year firebombed a branch of the Royal Bank in the Glebe. Despite the crown attorney’s recommendation of a five to six year sentence the judge agreed with Mr. Clement’s attorney Lawrence Greenspon and sentenced him to 3 ½ years for one charge of arson. Mr. Greenspon was able to convince the judge that his client was a tragic figure who had suffered much loss in his life and that he was unlikely to reoffend. Mr. Greenspon was also quoted as saying "His work on behalf of the little guy, on behalf of the poor, on behalf of the homeless has really been his life cause," he then went on to add that Mr. Clement waited two hours and 20 minutes to ensure the bank was empty and that nobody else would be around. Finally when Mr. Clement was permitted to make a statement he was quoted as saying that he “regretted the inconvenience he caused”. In many ways the handling of this sentence, especially considering the statement made by Mr. Clement, is very troubling to anyone who has ever taken on the task of fighting fires. A task that has obviously never touched the life of lawyer Lawrence Greenspon or the sentencing judge. To use the fact that Mr. Clement waited over two hours before intentionally setting a fire as an example of his good judgment sickens me. I guess it never occurred to either of these people that firefighters who also have families would have to respond to this “inconvenience”, and that any structure fire has the potential to get out of hand and threaten life, especially the lives of the firefighters on scene. Now should this fire had taken a firefighter’s life it would be very likely that the sentence given to Mr. Clement would have been much longer, however shouldn’t intent be taken into consideration in a case like this, not just the results of his actions?


On a much brighter note, last Thursday former volunteer firefighter and current OC Transpo driver Peter Paquette proved that heroes still exist in everyday life. Mr. Paquette was driving his bus route through Vanier when he noticed smoke coming from the window of a three storey apartment. Mr. Paquette immediately rushed into the building and assisted in getting four people and a dog out of the burning building. He made sure to alert every apartment, even broke through doors when there no response. Only as he was exiting the building for the last time were fire crews arriving on scene. Fortunately Mr. Paquette was only treated for minor smoke inhalation and a minor foot injury.


Published in the Villager newspaper December 15, 2010


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