While in other countries corporate officers and politicians went to jail over the tainted blood scandal in Canada the government passed legislation to forgive government ministers and politicians and bureacurats responsible for the tainted blood scandal. So the Judge ruled accordingly. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. And the rest of us be damned.
Superior Court Justice Mary Lou Benotto ruled yesterday that New Jersey-based Armour Pharmaceutical Co. and the four doctors, including a former top Canadian Red Cross official, behaved responsibly in distributing HT Factorate.
"There was no conduct that showed wanton and reckless disregard. There was no marked departure from the standard of a reasonable person," she told a packed University Ave. courtroom. "On the contrary, the conduct examined in detail for over 1 1/2years confirms reasonable, responsible and professional actions and responses during a difficult time.
"The allegations of criminal conduct on the part of these men and this corporation were not only unsupported by the evidence, they were disproved," she said. "The events here were tragic. However, to assign blame where none exists is to compound the tragedy."
In his 1997 report on the country's tainted blood scandal, Justice Horace Krever strongly criticized Canada's reaction to the AIDS crisis. Krever said the decision by Red Cross officials to exhaust their supply of untreated blood products before switching fully to safe heat-treated concentrates in 1985 was especially careless.
Victims of tainted blood reacted with seething disbelief. "People were infected and people died," John Plater of the Canadian Hemophilia Society said outside the courthouse, his voice rising in anger.
"How that could possibly be considered reasonable behaviour is beyond us."
Mike McCarthy, who contracted hepatitis C from tainted blood, went further, saying the judgment was a "miscarriage of justice." He called on the Crown attorney to appeal the acquittals.
But David Scott, a lawyer for a senior Health Canada official who was acquitted, said "these charges should never have been laid. It was a mistake from the beginning and people's lives have been brutally affected by them."
Eddie Greenspan, lawyer for the former head of the Red Cross blood program, described the ruling as "absolute vindication and complete exoneration" on a scale that is rarely seen.
"The bottom line is that there was no criminal conduct by anyone who was in charge. The bottom line is that Canada was well served by people who made these decisions."
Defence lawyers said that, given the exoneration, they will seek to have the legal fees of the accused reimbursed and may even launch lawsuits for malicious prosecution.
Proving once again that the courts in Canada uphold the state and business interests against the public interest.
In our free enterprise system, there is no legislation to oblige an employer to remain in business and to regulate his subjective reasons in this respect . . . . If an employer, for whatever reason, decides as a result to actually close up shop, the dismissals which follow are the result of ceasing operations, which is a valid economic reason not to hire personnel, even if the cessation is based on socially reprehensible considerations.
If Conrad Black had been put on trial in Canada he would have been acquitted.
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