A Degraded Justice: Ontario’s Bill 117 A License to Perjury Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy
against the accused, the police did not investigate at the time, and her convictions for manslaughter and attempted murder were upheld by the Supreme Court. The difference in these cases is that one had significant corroborating evidence to establish a pattern of abuse, while the latter did not. This point is raised to highlight the grim absence of any necessity to provide corroborating evidence as contemplated by Bill 117.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court appears to provide an exception to the rule. When women kill in this country, media reports are usually buried in the back pages, and the strategy at trial is almost always a battered woman’s defense. No evidence of a history of violence is required in a Canadian court room, as we seem to have been successfully convinced that no evidence is needed to believe that a history of violence is present. One Albertan case involved a woman who killed her partner while he was in the bathtub. Another woman’s case was lauded as a victory for women when she was acquitted of hiring a hit man to kill her husband, who turned out to be a police officer. These cases abound in the back pages of newspapers right across the country. Less frequent is the recent result of the Canadian dentist convicted of manslaughter in the killing of her husband. The U.S. jury did not accept her claim that she was fighting for her life when she repeatedly stabbed her sleeping husband, perhaps because there was not a mark on her, while he was obviously turned toward the wall and sleeping when he was attacked. It would appear that murdering men is not legal in the U.S., as it is here in Canada.
With the advent of Alberta’s Prevention from Family Violence Act, proclaimed in June of 1999, one would think that this would apply to any assault committed by any party who uses violence in the advancement of conflict. Unfortunately, this Act appears to apply to women only.
In Alberta, the writer has reviewed the three perjury-involved cases of domestic law related cases. We have also reviewed 236 charges of assault which went to trial in the past two years in Alberta. Of all 236 cases, only one charge was brought to trial against a woman who attempted to hire a police officer to kill her boyfriend.
This is the case of Dolores Bobyak who pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 464(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada , namely, counselling to commit an indictable offence, in this case the murder of her husband, Jerry Bobyak6. It was not in dispute that Ms. Bobyak spoke to an undercover police officer to hire him to murder her husband, and the officer was shown an insurance policy for $300,000.00 on the life of Jerry Bobyak, which was taken out only one month prior to her effort to hire a hitman. Jerry Bobyak was at the time of trial serving a sentence for assaulting Dolores, and evidence was tendered from RCMP files and hospital records showing that Dolores had previously been the victim of violence.
Assistant Chief Judge P.M. Caffaro heard the matter in 1999, and was swayed heavily by the evidence that Dolores was the victim of violence at the hands of Jerry Bobyak. He wrote as follows:
6 See R. v. Bobyak, 1999 Alberta Provincial Court, decision of Assistant Chief Judge P.M. Caffaro dated April 23, 1999.