It is only through a single CBC news article authored by Catharine Tunney that we can know anything about the appalling actions of Canada’s justice system in preventing a mother from learning about her daughter’s death. Francesca Savoie, shown here, was 17 in 2007 when she was reportedly killed in a motor vehicle collision.

Checking internet sources such as Google has produced no information about circumstances in which 17-year-old Francesca Savoie died in a reported motor vehicle collision in Bas-Caraquet, New Brunswick. The only knowledge I can gain is from the single news article posted on March 20, 2022, by the CBC’s Catharine Tunney.

Tunney’s deeply disturbing article described how Savoie was killed in a motor vehicle collision in Bas-Caraquet, New Brunswick, sometime in the year 2007. Francesca’s mother, Liette, “has been on a quest ever since to learn more about what happened that night –  a quest driven in part by rumours on the Acadian Peninsula about a high-speed chase and a second vehicle“, as stated in Tunney’s article.

In 2012 Liette Savoie requested all information from the RCMP on the crash. Unidentified individuals at the RCMP responded by saying “…only a small portion of their files would be released”. These RCMP individuals cited the portion of the Access to Information Act “…that shields from disclosure information obtained in the course of a police investigation less than 20 years old”.

Savoie’s complaint to the Information Commissioner led the Commissioner to ask the RCMP to explain why the files were not released. The unidentified RCMP individuals “…argued that the personal information of the deceased is protected by law for 20 years after the death and the public interest in disclosure ‘did not outweigh the invasion of privacy that would result from the disclosure'”.

Let me repeat that phrase again. The unidentified RCMP individuals decided that the deceased’s death was personal information owned by the deceased. No one had the right to know how the deceased had died, especially not the deceased’s mother. And this is what strikes to the heart of the bazaar reasonings of the Canadian justice system.

If, by some chance, Francesca had been murdered, her mother would have no right to know. If the RCMP had covered up the murder for some undisclosed reason, Liette Savoie also did not have the right to know.

As a totally independent observer with decades of experience in uncovering the details of police collision reconstructions I am in a unique position to review the case and evaluate, for myself, whether there is any reason to be concerned about Francesca’s death. But the internet has been wiped clean of any mention of Francesca and her untimely death. And, unless you were a local of the Bas-Caraquet region in 2007, you also would have no information about the tragic incident.

Liette Savoie’s dilemma is not unique. Every year thousands of persons perish on Canadian roads. Police come to investigate and close the area where a fatality occurs. Not only is the actual site closed off, but several kilometres are closed off such that any independent reporter can only use a high-powered, telephoto lens to photograph a distorted view of the collision scene, though in many instances such a photo is impossible. Even news media become complicit in this secrecy by claiming that their photos are copyright and cannot be used in any discussion of a collision. For many thousands of persons like Liette suffering is in silence as no one knows that they are given no information about how their loved one passed away. By some fluke of chance a reporter, such as the CBC’s Catharine Tunney, decides to post a single article and suddenly that lonely silence is made known – about that single individual. But many thousands of persons are not afforded that luxury of being made known to the public. They move on in silence, requesting information that is denied, and no one is able to make those deniers accountable for their decisions.

Tunney indicated that recently the Information Commissioner sided with the RCMP. When Liette Savoie when to the Federal Court it also sided with the RCMP. An absolute dead end for a mother who simply wanted some answers.

The federal court’s comment on the matter is also revealing. The justice was quoted as saying, if the information commissioner’s recommended amendments to the Access to Information Act don’t materialize “the eventual expiration of the twenty-year moratorium offers some hope”. How uplifting. We just have to guarantee that Liette Savoie lives long enough to make her request at that future date.

Unreasonable secrecy is a deplorable matter in an otherwise democratic society. It is the method by which many evil deeds are allowed to slither through the weak crevices of a good society. It is more deplorable when many good men and women observe its slither but are more interested in chewing the popcorn on their comfy couch amidst the viewing of their latest soap opera or sports program on their high definition TV.