More readers defend James Landry

Yesterday’s post by a letter writer from Petit-de-Grat touched off  a record day for Contrarian, with more than 60,000 hits, along with thousands of shares on Facebook. My mailbox is full of comments on the tragic events on Isle Madame. I’ll post a representative sample over the next few days. (Previous posts on the killing here, hereherehere, and here.)

Most of what I have received about this situation arrived anonymously. Many of those who support James Landry, the fisherman convicted of manslaughter last week, say they fear reprisals. Those who do business in the divided community feel especially vulnerable. A reporter I admire who has covered the events offers this observation:

I just read the letter you posted on behalf of someone from Petit de Grat. A very interesting read, and one I (as a reporter) have heard before. But no one will go on record. I’m not sure how well you know this person, and I don’t want to argue about accuracy of coverage, but please let them know we looked for people to tell us more about this story, and no one except Andre Leblanc would speak to us. With more trials to come, if someone wants to come forward, we’re always open to it. 

The point is well taken. Reporters understandably find it frustrating to endure complaints about the quality of their coverage from people who refuse to help them understand the matter being covered.

Here are a couple of notes that came in before the letter I published yesterday, in response to my Dec. 1 post objecting to headline writers’ use of the prosecutorial phrase, “murder for lobster.” A reader from Petit-de-Grat writes:

The people from Petit de Grat who know the history of Philip Boudreau and put up with 25+ years of bullshit and stress know why this happened, and are not surprised.

He survived for years 1) because he spent most of his days in prison, and 2) while he was out, he went after folks he knew were scared of the law and scared of what he could do.

Petit de Grat is my home and an awesome place to live. This guy was goddam poison unless he liked you. I now read all this crap about how wonderful he was and one lady (ex-nun) calling him a goddam martyr. She defends a lifelong criminal as if he’s a saint that went mackerel jigging and didn’t come home. Then you read the comments made by reporters that figure James Landry needed extra lobsters. Never mind the torture this 5 ft 2 little bastard put him and others through over the years.

The folks from Petit de Grat all knew what Philip was up too. The local fishery officer figured it was the RCMP’s problem, and they figured it was DFO’s problem. If they had done their jobs this would never have happened.

It’s easy for some jackass to sit there and say James Landry is to blame for everything because he was greedy. It’s like, put yourself in his shoes. Let a guy threaten you, cut/steal the equipment you need to do your job, and then make fun of you afterwards. And multiply this and more by 10-15 years. Call the authorities and they say “have a nice day!” And they wonder why this man cracked?

I agree [Boudreau] didn’t deserve to be killed, but was James Landry the problem or the solution?

Do you have any CBC buddies you can smarten up. From day 1 they reported BS and picked who they would support in all of this. It’s like, are they that stupid or is it they figure the rural people from Petit de Grat are just rednecks that don’t matter. Present what society wants to hear. Never mind doing a little digging and putting the pieces together.

On the performance of the CBC, I think the commenter paints with an overly broad brush. I criticized the broadcaster’s early coverage (here, here, and here), but aside from the “murder for lobster” headlines, which polluted every news outlet, the Ceeb’s trial coverage was professional and fair. As the journalist quoted above observed, you can’t report what no one will tell you.

A Richmond County fisherman wrote:

I have known about this character Phillip Boudreau for a long time. He was exactly as you described him to be. I’ve also known James Landry for many years, and he never struck me as the type who would commit premeditated murder—which he didn’t.

I also know what its like to deal with DFO and the RCMP when it comes to matters dealing with damaged lobster gear or bullies telling you to stay out of their territory. They will usually say that it is very difficult to catch anyone at this business, or that they are so understaffed that they simply don’t have any time for you.

It seems also that even less interest is shown, by either DFO or RCMP, if the individual or individuals are not not afraid of the law or its enforcers as we’ve seen in Boudreau’s case. (He once phoned an RCMP officer who had helped put him in prison near Christmastime one year and thanked him for putting him away for the winter).

This writer didn’t share my objection to the “murder for lobster” headlines, but added:

I do think this part is the most important aspect to draw attention to: “It obscures the responsibility of DFO and the RCMP, who failed to act against Boudreau’s years of brazen lawlessness.”

More reaction to come—pro and con.