Sunday, July 06, 2008


The name of Lucien Larre was briefly mentioned in a previous post on this blog in connection with the awarding of the Governor General's Order of Canada Medal to Henry Morgentaler. As previously said Larre is a Vancouver priest who has returned his own Order of Canada medal in protest at the acceptance of Morgentaler into the Order. As previously mentioned Larre has two previous convictions for common assault in connection with his previous work at Bosco Home in Saskatchewan. But there's a lot more to this, and now, like the radio show says, "here's the rest of the story".

When reading about Larre's protest Molly's foggy, almost senile, mind heard a little bell in the background. "That name seems familiar". Familiar it was indeed as Larre's run-in with the law occurred back in Molly's old stomping grounds of Saskatchewan. Molly had long since left the province before Larre's run-in with justice in 1992, but she can certainly remember the name being mentioned in the Catholic environment where she grew up. She can also remember a certain satisfaction when the bugger was finally caught.

What brought all this back was reading an item in the local press where it was claimed that Larre had been acquitted of the charges. Could Molly have made a mistake ? Is the Pope really the only infallible person on Earth ? Well, no such mistake was made. Larre indeed was convicted, as the article below from yesterday's Globe and Mail makes plain. What happened is that he originally faced 11 charges, but was convicted on only 2 of them. In 1997 he applied for and obtained a pardon. The only question in Molly's mind is the date of this pardon, early or late 1997. Conservative Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister in the first half of 1997, and Jean Chrétien was Prime Minister in the latter half. While the granting of pardons is theoretically free from political interference there is a lot that depends upon political appointees.

In 1996 changes to the rules of the Order have provided for people being stripped of the award if "if they have been convicted of a criminal offence or if their conduct runs afoul of public standards or is sanctioned by a professional association". The rules are not retroactive so Larre got to keep his award despite his previous conviction. Since the new rules came into force only two people have been removed from the Order, Alan Eagleston in 1998 and David Ahenakew in 2002 (see below). What is interesting is that "professional censure" is also cause for removal. In 2006 Larre was ordered to stop his practice of "therapy" and removed from the registry by the B.C. College of Psychologists. The court docket of the case when he appealed to the Supreme Court -and lost- is available at the site of the Canada Protective Parents Association. Larre has launched yet another appeal which is due to be heard this fall.

Molly went on over to the website of the Bosco Center(sic). Yes, the centre is actually "centres" (4 of them in B.C. and Alberta). And yes, despite being a Canadian outfit they use the American spelling of "center" rather than the Canadian "centre". The type of "therapy' being offered there is quite American in nature, being one of the industrial wastes that the USA has exported to the rest of the world. Larre took something of a 'post-graduate' training at the Fielding Insitute in Santa Barbara California. This outfit is accredited, so far as such things go, in the throbbing pulsing world centre of all that is flaky known as "the Golden State"(pretend you have gold and the suckers will come). The "therapy" is heavily dependent upon the rather dubious ideas of "biofeedback", and, while certainly a step up from Larre's methods back in Saskatchewan, still reeks of quackery. For a good overview of the state of this "therapy"go to Quackwatch and google "biofeedback". Larre's deregistration in BC was due to several public complaints lodged with the College of Psychologists.
The Unrepentant Old Hippy blog has much more on this matter, and I urge you to drop over there. The Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus were determined to keep the name of the Bosco School alive after Larre's disgrace, and they presently run the Columbus Bosco School in that province. One hopes that it is less of a maximum security "joint" than its "honoured" predecessor. Molly also found out that Bosco Home ("Bosco Prison Camp" ????) was the subject of controversy long before Larre was brought to justice. In the Hansard for the Saskatchewan Legislature of 1989 the record speaks of "escapes" and "riots" by the child inmates over mistreatment. It also speaks of how this outfit was generously funded by the provincial government. But that is a matter for another blog.
What I must say now, however, is how this matter has reminded Molly of a subject she hasn't given too much thought to recently- the nature of evil. There are a great number of reasons why people commit evil acts in this world, and self-interest is the base of most of them. In that sense we are all evil. We all act now and then to further our goals even though we know the act is wrong. Often we lie to ourselves about these acts. The crude pop-psychology term of "denial" has been coined in recent decades to describe this act of self-deception, even though this term obscures more than it reveals. Yet, there are two obvious cases where such a term applies not at all. One is the psychopath who simply lacks anything remotely resembling either guilt or shame. But there is a much greater source of evil in this world. The great bone-shattering, world-changing, titanium steel strong evil is perpetrated by those who commit their acts under the delusion that they are doing good, under an ironclad belief that their acts, no matter how brutal or uncivilized are "right".
Molly's original introduction to such people as a child was by observing them in the personae of clerics in the Catholic Church, though Catholicism hardly has a monopoly on this sort of thing. In her later life she has seen this mindset at work in the small minority of the anarchist movement that adopts terrorist tactics. It runs through human history. NO great and massive evil was EVER committed by people who didn't think they were doing good. It's a extreme statement, but I'm willing to defend it. Some may find it hard to imagine that those they disagree with had such convictions about their motives, but it is nonetheless true. The petty idea of "denial" hardly applies in this case. There were and are no "psychological struggles" or doubts that such people struggle with. The evil acts follow logically and without remorse from the totalitarian glow of the ideology/religion that informs and spreads over the personality of the believer. Molly remembers typing Larre as such an "evil man" at a time in her life when she hardly has the words to describe such a state as she does now. "Doubt" is a wonderful thing. It keeps us from becoming such monsters.
But enough of my usual ramblings. Here's the article from the Globe and Mail.
Controversial priest returns medal in protest
VANCOUVER -- When Catholic priest Lucien Larré shipped his Order of Canada back to Ottawa on Wednesday, he became the first person in the history of the award to return his medal as a gesture of protest.

"I realize that Dr. Morgentaler is a hero for a number of people, but there's some, maybe 40 per cent of Canadians, who don't agree with him and are deeply hurt that he was given the Order of Canada," Father Larré said in an interview yesterday.

Granting the Order of Canada to Dr. Morgentaler "degrades" the honour, he said.

In rejecting the honour, Father Larré - who was named to the order in 1983 for founding a home for troubled children that later collapsed amid allegations of abuse - put himself in the spotlight over his own past. It includes two criminal convictions in the 1990s, for which he served one day in jail, and a clash with the College of Psychologists of British Columbia, which, in 2006, suspended Father Larré's registration pending a disciplinary hearing.

Under current regulations, such a past might put Father Larré in line to be stripped of his Order of Canada rather than having the option of returning it. Since 1996, rules have provided for people to be dropped from the order if they have been convicted of a criminal offence or if their conduct runs afoul of public standards or is sanctioned by a professional association.
But the provisions are not retroactive, Lucie Caron of the Governor-General's office said yesterday.

The government is not aware of anyone other than Father Larré returning the honour, she said.
Father Larré, once nicknamed "the saint of Saskatchewan" for his work with troubled children in that province, yesterday spoke openly of his criminal convictions, emphasizing that he was acquitted on nine of 11 charges he faced in 1992 and later, in 1997, obtained a pardon and does not have a criminal record.

Father Larré founded the Bosco Homes in the 1970s to care for troubled children, some of whom had had run-ins with the law or had been kicked out of foster homes.

By the late 1980s, the homes had been hit by financial woes and allegations of abuse, which culminated in a trial in Regina in 1992.

Father Larré was convicted on one count of assault and of administering a noxious substance to a resident of the home. Yesterday, he said the assault charge stemmed from an incident when, losing his temper with a young woman who had become sexually involved with one of the boys at his school, Father Larré slapped her in the face. The noxious-substance charge stemmed from his attempts to teach kids about drug abuse by refusing to let them leave a room until they swallowed some pills, which were harmless vitamins, he said.

After the trial, Bosco Homes wound down and Father Larré moved to Alberta and then to B.C., where he now runs a centre that offers programs for children with learning disabilities and other problems.

In that role, he's come under scrutiny from the B.C. College of Psychologists, which suspended Father Larré's registration in 2006.

A B.C. Supreme Court ruling last year upheld Father Larré's suspension, noting a panel is of the view "that there are serious public protection concerns and an immediate risk to the public" if he continued to practise.

A disciplinary hearing is scheduled to reconvene this fall.

Only two people have been removed from the Order of Canada. Alan Eagleson was removed after being jailed for fraud in 1998 and David Ahenakew was removed in 2005 for anti-Semitic comments he made in 2002.


Anonymous said...

This man is an evil man. Never trust him.. Never leave children with him. It is scary and sad that he is allowed to roam free. It is a wonder what harm he continues to do.

Anonymous said...

I remember Larre from high school days in Regina, a nasty,violent brute of a man who liked to slap the boys around and take them out in the hallway and beat them up...saw all those things with my own eyes atMiller High School in the late sixties, always felt he had strong sociopathic tendencies.

DandC Sylvestre said...

Did anyone attend in 1983? Looking for my birth father gerald