Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child

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La Presse, April 19, 1920, p. 4


Those who have been scandalized by the publicity given to the Ste. Philomène drama and the facts that have been revealed about the child martyr, Aurore Gagnon, are surely misguided. There is an important lesson to be learned from the inquiry that is currently taking place in Quebec City -- a lesson of interest to both the public and the courts.

It has just been established before the Criminal Court that the people of Ste. Philomène did not remain indifferent to the horrors that were being committed in the Gagnon home, and that a citizen from this parish even took the pains to go before the Crown to denounce the behaviour of the woman who is today facing a charge of having murdered her stepdaughter.

Yet what resulted from this humanitarian act by a leading and trustworthy citizen? Absolutely nothing. The Crown representative merely advised the citizen to obtain more accurate information and to take responsibility himself for lodging a complaint on his own initiative, adding that the Crown would not intervene unless he did so.

Here we see, once again, evidence of how badly organized the Attorney General’s department is. We have on several occasions had cause to say that the initiative of undertaking enquiries and legal proceedings in criminal matters should be left to the Attorney General or to one of the Crown Prosecutors, and not to the first person to come by. We repeat this today, more loudly than ever. And we are convinced that the drama at hand gives irresistible force to our plea.

Why should the public be responsible for carrying out searches and lodging complaints against criminals, when it has been so clearly admitted that everyone’s business is no one’s business? Why do we pay the salaries of the Attorney General and all those whose jobs it is to administer justice on his behalf? Why do we spend thousands and thousands of dollars every year on officers who only want to take on cases that are already solved and who protect themselves by placing their responsibility on others?

It seems to us that the incident that we have just witnessed should open the eyes of those in power. If the law that governs the department of the Attorney General is insufficient, then let it be promptly amended to correct the problem. But, for pity’s sake, let us no longer tolerate the reprehensible indifference that the Crown has shown in the Gagnon affair. Moreover, what we are seeking is nothing out of the ordinary: such a system has long existed in France and in the United States. We have every interest in establishing this system in our country as soon as possible.

Source: La Presse, "Une réforme pressante," La Presse (Montréal), April 19, 1920.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History