An Edmonton man who is the brother of one of Robert Pickton’s victims said the convicted killer taunted families by releasing a book about what happened on his now infamous farm.
Ricky Papin’s younger sister Georgina was killed by Pickton. Over the weekend, he learned Pickton had released a book on Amazon.
“What if it was your sister? How would you react? You’re angry,” he said.
Papin said he and his sister were close when they were younger; the last time he saw her was in Feb. 2005. Then he learned she was one of the victims whose remains had been found in Pickton’s Port Coquitlam farm.
“She was lovable, a burst of energy. She made everybody happy, whether she had a bad day or not,” he said.
Papin endured the court case and said he felt life was moving forward. But news of Pickton’s book has re-opened those wounds.
“That guy is still alive. My sister is not. Neither are any of the other girls,” he said.
Despite his anger, Papin said he wants to read the book and he said Georgina’s seven children also want to read it.
“They want to know what’s going on, for all those questions nobody ever told them,” he said.
Correctional Service Canada released the following statement on the controversial book:
“The content may be offensive to some…they [inmates] are able to communicate with members of the public in writing and are entitled privileged correspondence.”
Eric Adams, a constitutional law expert and associate professor at the University of Alberta Law School, said Pickton is within his right to write a book.
“The starting point in Canada is citizens, including citizens that are in jail and that have been convicted of serious crimes, have Charter Rights to free speech. The fact Mr. Pickton is exercising those rights, some might think it curious he still has those rights, but we all do to write what he wants and to express himself,” he said.
Adams said provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario have laws stating criminals charged or convicted of certain crimes cannot profit from books or re-tellings of their crimes. But B.C., where Pickton is serving his sentence, does not.
“Right now, Mr. Pickton is as free as anyone else would be in B.C. to ink a book deal and sell copies of a book,” Adams said.
On Monday afternoon, publisher Outskirts Press announced it was ceasing publication of the book and was asking Amazon to remove the book from its website.
“We have a long-standing policy of not working with, nor publishing work by, incarcerated individuals. Mr. Pickton was apparently aware of our no-tolerance policy when he devised a plan to publish through an unaffiliated third party, Mr. Chilldres, who claimed to Outskirts Press that he was the sole owner and author of said material,” the statement reads.
However, a spokesperson would not comment on when Outskirts Press received the transcript, how many copies were printed and whether public outcry played a factor in its decision to cease publication.
Late Monday afternoon, the book could no longer be found on the Amazon website. Amazon did not respond to Global News inquiries about the book or why it was taken down.
While victims’ families, such as Papin, say Pickton should not be given complete freedom of speech, Adams said that would be detrimental.
“As a society, do we want to say that people no longer have the rights to express their views? In a society in which people have been wrongly convicted and which others may change their views over the time of incarceration, we may want to hear from some of those voices some of the time,” he said.
And when asked whether Pickton’s freedom of speech has been infringed now that his book is no longer available, Adams said no one has a right to be published.
“He has rights to express himself. If publishers don’t want to carry his work, if people aren’t interested in buying it, he doesn’t have any rights that have been infringed,” he said.
The author listed on the book, Michael Chilldres, had little to say when reached by Global News.
“I didn’t think it was going to go and be this big. I didn’t think people would be so upset about it,” he said.
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said Correctional Service Canada is investigating the source of the manuscript.