The Canadian justice system is so broken it's criminal

After reading about that justice of the peace down there in Louisiana last week who refused to marry an interracial couple on moral grounds, I was feeling pretty smug and happy about not being American, as we Canadians so often do. That is, until I saw this story about a horrifically violent rapist who just absconded while out on parole in Calgary and I remembered just what a pathetic criminal justice system we have here in this country and how totally messed up Canada can also be.

Justice, Canadian Style

If you haven't read about this case already, be forewarned, it is quite disturbing.

A brief summary:

In 2001, Dean Robert Zimmerman was sentenced to jail for brutally raping, tormenting, and torturing his pregnant wife in an attack that lasted over 48 hours. He not only repeatedly assaulted her, but he also broke her nose and threatened to cut her unborn baby from her belly. And this attack took place while he was out on parole for the earlier violent rape of a 19-year-old woman.

Then, after serving less than four years in jail for that horrific attack, the guy was released and, on January 1, 2005, he committed yet another vicious attack, this time a nine-hour sex assault/torture session involving a toilet plunger and a 24-year-old Edmonton woman.

He pleaded guilty to sexual assault involving a weapon and forcible confinement and was sent away for—wait for it—40 whole months in federal prison.

Yes, that's right, forty months. That's three years and four months in prison for a savage sexual and physical assault and sadistic torture session. His third such conviction in a few short years to boot.

When exactly, one wonders, will the courts start considering this guy a threat to society and someone, perhaps, deserving of a real substantial prison sentence?

It's not just the courts though. The whole system is a joke. He was actually sentenced to six years—a rather insignificant sentence considering his crimes—but on September 29, 2009 he was released nearly three years early.

"But maybe he was reformed and repentant", you say.

Well, actually the National Parole Board describes him as a psychopath who is lacking remorse and empathy and whose violence towards women is escalating to a deadly level. Just last year they wrote that if released "There is a likelihood [he] would commit an offence causing serious harm or death".

And so they released him. And now he's skipped out on parole and is on the run.

Just the Facts

These are the facts: A man who refused prison therapy and remains an untreated, unremorseful, high-risk, psychotic, violent sexual offender was given early release last month (for the third time running).

Sounds like a perfect candidate for early release (and lenient sentencing) to me.

Hey, National Parole Board of Canada, how have those early releases been working out for this guy so far?

An Irrational, Nonsensical System

So, that about sums it up. Here in modern day Canada, you can violently brutalize, terrorize, beat, rape, and traumatize somebody for hours or even days at a time and then find yourself free on parole a few short years later, at which time you can do it all over again.

Perhaps next time this guy will get at least eight years? And maybe he can serve four or five of them this time?

The term "Canadian justice system" is simply an absurd farce and a cruel joke.

I'm not saying I want a brutal lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key system like the one they have down there in the States. But come on, Canada. This is simply disgraceful. How about a little common sense?

When a psychopath rapes and tortures three different women in three separate attacks over a period of less than a decade maybe, just maybe, after his third conviction he should be locked up for a little longer than just three years.

Or maybe it's just me? Is no one else sickened, repulsed, enraged, and ashamed by all of this?

And it's hardly the first case. In fact, I'd say that extremely lenient sentencing for serious violent crimes is actually the norm here in Canada.

An Even More Disturbing Case

This Zimmerman case reminds me of another equally bewildering case from almost three years ago now. In that case a man and a woman in Winnipeg were sentenced for the kidnapping, imprisonment, and rape of two young girls, aged 12 and 13. The 12-year-old was held for several months as a sex slave and drugged, raped, tormented, and tortured while the 13-year-old was also raped numerous times and eventually became pregnant.

Like Zimmerman, this couple showed absolutely no remorse and asked for no forgiveness. So, what kind of sentence do you think they received? Yup, you got it, two years for the woman and nine years for the man. Only about half to be served behind bars of course.

As Bob Dylan sang in "Hurricane", his rage-fueled song about a different sort of miscarriage of justice, "Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game".

But then again...

Perhaps I just need to be a bit more positive and a lot less pessimistic. Because, in the immortal words of Meat Loaf, two out of three ain't bad, right? The "Canadian justice system" is, in fact, almost perfect: It's definitely Canadian and it's most certainly a system. All it's really lacking is justice.

No, screw that naive positive-thinking stuff. The truth is the Canadian justice system is a lot like Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band without Bruce Springsteen. The Sixties without the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Taxi Driver without Robert DeNiro. The Big Lebowski without the Dude. Rum and coke without the rum. Hawaiian pizza without the pineapple. Fawlty Towers without John Cleese. And The Colbert Report without Stephen Colbert.

Oh yeah, and Louisiana and the rest of the Deep South without bigots.

Mike Cowie is a freelance writer who writes about politics, music, film, travel, and much more. You can read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.




Oct 22, 2009 at 5:00pm

A pox on those responsible for these, and no doubt, other travesties. No accountability. Hopefully they cannot sleep at night knowing what they have wrought. Say what you will about the American system, but I would hazard a guess his sentence the first or at least the second time around would number in the hundreds of years.


Oct 22, 2009 at 5:29pm

Fill the prisons with marijuana smokers - Harpo's cry for justice.



Oct 22, 2009 at 8:10pm

I fail to understand why this man has not been declared a "dangerous sexual offender", and hence sentenced accordingly. I have been an expert witness at two rape trials in Toronto where this designation ensured that the rapist got an extremely long sentence. How come there are different standards in different jurisdictions when we have a national criminal justice system?


Oct 22, 2009 at 8:41pm

In my opinion, once the police catch the creep, it's not up to some judge to decide his fate, it's up to the victim or family of the victim. Canada sucks and we need to change things but won't because Canadians are too "nice".

pissed off

Oct 23, 2009 at 3:43pm

i am a family member of one of the victims, i will not say which one as we are all in hiding, but this really truthfully disgusts me!!! this man should be shipped to america for the death penalty and i dont belive in it! not only for what he did to my relative but for whet he did to others and will continue to do if he is not rightfully punished...this guys mother probably pukes at the very thought of him, i know i would!!!


Oct 23, 2009 at 3:48pm

Dean "Robert Zimmerman"....where have I heard that name before?
Our justice system sucks so stopped cumming/being just decades ago. Satan forbid you should ever need a lawyer to persue justice after you've been wronged or have been falsely accused of something. Unless you have a lot of cash you're whistling Dixie with a tightly knotted noose around your neck and a bunch of stupid Casper the Redneck Ghost looking cretins spitting out gobs of their tobacco standing around scratching at their withered manhoods while they chortle about how "theys all gonna git that 'boy' in the White House and shows him how real suthern men tek keer of bidness."

In Canada we only need substitute the RCMP and Crown Attorneys for the redneck cretins minus all their "humanity".


Oct 23, 2009 at 4:14pm

Sleeps old boy, I think you have finally slipped your saddle. Don't forget the Oak Bay PD, your nemesis, on the replacement slate either.

Maybe 'pissed off' can get zimmy offed for a pack of spliths in the jug.


Oct 24, 2009 at 1:49pm

Being a victim of a horrific crime, the guy got a years probation, and he almost killed me and 2 other girls, knocked one of my friends teeth out too. He plead insanity and the idiot judge bought it...WTF! Plus there was no punishment for the year of stocking leading up to the trial and he couldnt be charged with threats as he didnt sign his name to his emails? Fuckin moron pigs! Handled the case like a key stone cops would! Thats it next time someone starts attacking me its the ground for them. Case closed!


Oct 24, 2009 at 3:25pm

It's worse than that ethical clutch is slipping too. I've been tormenting (figuratively of course) bike couriers and their fawning groupies as well.

One of these days, Satan, I'll have to have you over for some S & M.
Spliffs & Margaritas.


Oct 24, 2009 at 4:42pm

I'll tell you exactly why the parole board let's these guys go. Because there's zero funding for prisons in Canada. Most governments want to privatize Canadian prisons much like they've done in the US (lol, profit from prison) and have purposely driven the prison system into the ground. Then Harper and his cronies can point to it's failings and demand we contract it out to US companies.

There's no room in our prisons and the parole board is under pressure to release whoever is in front of them. Obviously some sort of paperwork problem happened with this guy, and if they didn't release him they would've ended up liable and the government could be sued so like brainless drones they released this guy. Now we're all screwed, he's probably half way to the Yukon by now