Arrest of Col. Russell Williams for murder raises a big question for Peter MacKay

Col. Russell Williams was a man on a fast track.

At the age of 46, he had become the commander of one of the most important military bases in the country: CFB Trenton.

He piloted planes that carried Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Michaelle Jean.

And now, he's facing two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of sexual assault.

He hasn't been convicted, and in Canada, the accused is innocent until proven guilty.

However after this, I'm left with a big question about the Canadian Armed Forces' system for promoting military personnel.

Is it using the psychopathy checklist, which was pioneered by retired UBC psychology professor Bob Hare, to ferret out psychopaths?

These are people who lack a conscience and who are manipulative, charming, ruthless, domineering predators.

Or is  the Canadian military using any other screening tool to detect psychopaths?

I interviewed Hare for a story back in 1995. He told me at the time that he would be speaking about the psychopathy checklist at a NATO conference later that year in Portugal. So it's not as if the military isn't aware of psychopathy.

Since that article appeared, Hare has been covered numerous times in the media for his work. His checklist even has its own Wikipedia entry.

I e-mailed a question to the Department of National Defence, and I received a call back saying the inquiry couldn't be answered this evening. However, someone will call tomorrow.

In the meantime, perhaps we should ask ourselves if this [not the murders, but the lack of an answer on the psychopathy question] is another cost of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament so he can spend time at the Vancouver Olympics.

If Parliament were in session, perhaps an Opposition MP  could have asked Defence Minister Peter MacKay if senior military commanders are screened for psychopathy. In light of recent events, it's a legitimate area to pursue and it wouldn't jeopardize Williams's right to a fair trial.

If it turns out that the Canadian Armed Forces isn't testing its senior commanders in this area, the public  might start wondering if it's time the prime minister found a new minister of national defence.




Feb 10, 2010 at 8:19pm

What I find very interesting is that there is one glaring omission from the profile offered from Trenton and that is where Col.Russell Williams is from! Perhaps they omit this information due to safety concerns but would they not say which province this man was from originally. Apparently his military profile says only that he attended U of T but nothing of where his origins are, he could be from Mars for all we know! Nobody has stepped forward to say,"Oh I remember that guy from high school or elementary school!" Curiouser and curiouser!


Feb 10, 2010 at 8:44pm

I thought sociopaths and psychopaths were just the sort of people for jobs like military, law enforcement, executioners, butchers, surgeons, bikers, executives, etc. They naturally exist, and have some purpose. And as has been cynically noted elsewhere, they tend to reproduce faster than the so-called normal, healthy population; one day sociopaths as a majority will be statistically normal. It's a wonderful world...


Feb 10, 2010 at 10:53pm

"In the meantime, perhaps we should ask ourselves if this is another cost of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament so he can spend time at the Vancouver Olympics."

Please send this inconsiderate thought out to the families of his victims. Did you post this kind of drivel over Maj. Hasan. There are are hidden freaks all over the world. And you use this tragic event in an attempt to gain a political point? Incredible.


Feb 10, 2010 at 10:56pm

I am so sick of being a tax payer so we can Keep this sick MONSTERS in P.C. In our prison systems! The victims of these Monsters don't have any choice when the get killed! Why is it fair for these Mosters to be treated better then most of the Canadian Population? Why do we have to Pay double the money in tax payers dollars so they can be protected from General Population? I find it so wrong! We need this to change now so this Monster WIll get what he deserves!!!


Feb 11, 2010 at 2:30am

Charlie Smith you are an idiot. Probably not but you are raising histeria like CNN. Does Wallmart do checks to sift out psychopaths? Does Sears or even Corrections Canada? NOOOOOOO So get a life. Shit happens. But this man is a low blow to any Canadian who wears a uniform. I left over 20 years ago but I am still embarassed by this man. I was an officer like him but I would demand better from a person of this rank.


Feb 11, 2010 at 2:56am

The answer on screening is no, so you have your answer and it has nothing to do with whether Parliament is sitting. Using this horrible crime to talk about partisan politics is awful. And btw, if you really are interested, you'd know that the country's top general explained there are 95,000 people under him and the government can't test everyone. Is the management of your organization tested? Or the CBC?


Feb 11, 2010 at 4:56am

The comment about this being a cost of proroguing parliament is illogical in the extreme and to try to lay this event at Mr. Harper's feet is absurd.
Psycopaths and sociopaths exist in all walks of life, only some of them decide to go over the edge into being a murderer. It is no one else's 'fault'.
Might I suggest a course in logic followed by a second one dealing with fallacious reasoning both formal and informal.
Reality is a neat place, come for a visit, you might choose to stay.


Feb 11, 2010 at 5:11am

Could you explain just how you tie the prime minister using a constitutional tool to a murderer???? Harper Haters will go anywhere, won't you.


Feb 11, 2010 at 5:22am

"In the meantime, perhaps we should ask ourselves if this is another cost of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament so he can spend time at the Vancouver Olympics."

Yes, most murderers stop to consider whether or not Parliament is in session before murdering victims.
I'm not sure if there's an award for the net's stupidest comments, but if there is, I nominate the above.


Feb 11, 2010 at 5:47am

"In the meantime, perhaps we should ask ourselves if this is another cost of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament....."
Hey Charlie Smith,author of the above article,why don't you go a little further in your demented partisan liberal logic and go and blame it all on George Bush? !!!!!!!!!!