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Howard Gowan (1)

31 year old case: all damage, no remedy . . . yet

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Howard Gowan

Shortly after September 11, 2001, Howard Gowan received word that he is on the CSIS terrorist watch list.

Howard has been a professional gunsmith for many decades. Even after his harrowing experience of being kidnapped and receiving shock treatments which forever damaged his mind and his family life, he was still given permits to keep his firearms. He has always had his permit renewed and there has never been any question that he is a responsible citizen who has not ever been charged with a criminal offense.

Now, as he is being required to re-register his firearms, Mr. Gowan has not been provided with the necessary paperwork to accomplish this. Could the Mounties be planning to steal his valuable firearm collection — as they have already done with many citizens?

Howard Gowan is not a terrorist. In fact he as been the object of a campaign of terror by the Saskatchewan government for over thirty years!

On April 19, 1994 Howard Gowan's case was put before the Saskatchewan Legislature. We are reprinting this in full, including then-justice minister Bob Mitchell's promise to address it. Behind closed doors, of course.

Mr. Martens: — Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Minister, I have a matter that I want to raise that is an old matter, and it deals with a constituent of mine. On Wednesday, March 9, an article appeared in the paper and it deals with a gentleman by the name of Mr. Howard Gowan. And I just want to point out some of the things that appeared in the article regarding his involvement with the RCMP and treatment in the Weyburn psychiatric service unit 27 years ago:

Twenty-seven years ago, farmer Howard Gowan was taken from his farm by the RCMP and interned in the Weyburn Psychiatric Centre, where he underwent a month of electro-shock and drug therapy. Twenty-seven years ago, his wife Madeleine was left by herself, without any warning, to care for five young children and a farm. Twenty-seven years ago, an RCMP commissioner admitted the force acted outside its authority and apologized in a letter for any "inconvenience." Today, the Gowan family still suffers from the experience — Madeleine can hardly speak of it without tears. Though often they would just like to forget, they continue to fight for compensation. Most of all, they want a police force that answers for its actions.

Mr. Minister, as I've looked through the information that Mr. Gowan has provided for me, there are a number of things that appear very clear to me.

One is that the individuals who did the investigation, both as individuals who were psychiatrists within the framework of the Department of Health at that time in Swift Current . . . did not investigate any of the observations that Mr. Gowan made.

He made observations as it related to his sister being involved as a world-class professional trick roper. They thought that he was just speaking out of the top of his head, when in fact his statements were accurate. He indicated at one point in time that he had worn Commander Middleton's uniform in a parade in Swift Current and they didn't take the time to investigate that, which was also true.

They concluded from all of those observations that he was not able to handle his affairs and so they indicated . . . without any warrant for his arrest, without a warrant for his arrest, they took him to the psychiatric ward in Swift Current to be assessed. They then proceeded to take him — again without a warrant — to Weyburn and subsequently he was released about a month later. And all of those things have been a part of what his family has had to go through. And I know Mr. Gowan personally and I've known him for a long time. D(1600)

There is other history that I want to bring to the attention, and this . . . I'm bringing this to your attention, Mr. Minister, because I believe that there are certain things that society has to deal with and has to respond to, to that area of society that someone either abuses a privilege or abuses some control or force that he has in his hands. And that's why we have warrants. That's why we have certain containment legislation within the framework of law.

And the information is fairly detailed. Mr. Gowan was only allowed access to that information a short time ago, that indicated that even at that time the individuals who were involved in the arrest had done it knowingly without a warrant, in fact wrote about it in their reports that they had arrested him without a warrant, and that they had taken him to Weyburn to be treated there without a warrant. And the individuals involved are also mentioned in that. And it has taken Mr. Gowan almost 25 years to have that information made available to him. Now one of the other things that he has also got on file at his home is a letter that the Premier, then the attorney general in 1976 — this occurred in 1967; 10 years later the present Premier was the attorney general — and he wrote a letter regarding this information to a gentleman in Swift Current and said:

Officials have examined the files of my department relating to the incident involving the RCMP and Mr. Gowan. The files are very complete, and on the basis of the detailed information contained therein the Government of Saskatchewan at the time of the incident did not see fit to lay criminal charges against the officers involved. As no additional information has come to light to change that view of the facts, I'm satisfied that although the affair was a regrettable one there is no basis for criminal charges. Should you wish information on the RCMP officers involved, I suggest you write directly to the force.