Thinking Out Loud

February 9, 2010

Once Again, A Loss of Trust

A military commander from Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two women.

Col. Russell Williams, 46, of Tweed, the top commander at 8 wing CFB Trenton, was arrested Sunday in Ottawa, Ontario Provincial Police Det.-Insp. Chris Nicholas said at a news conference Monday.

Williams has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jessica Lloyd, 27, whose body was found Monday off Cary Road in the municipality of Tweed.

Lloyd had been missing since Jan. 28 from her home outside Tweed, about 30 kilometres north of Belleville.

Ontario’s chief coroner is to conduct an autopsy on Lloyd’s body, which arrived in Toronto late Monday afternoon.

Williams was also charged in the death of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 38, of Brighton, Ont., who was killed in her home Nov. 25. Comeau served with the 437 Squadron at CFB Trenton.

…So begins a story on CBC News that has left Canadians somewhat shattered early this week.   Within hours over 300 people had posted comments to the site before the CBC decided to shut down the comment section of the story.

Williams had flown Canadian army aircraft for the Prime Minister and for visiting royalty.   He enjoyed a position of trust such as few others in this country.

Earlier in the day Monday, we had driven along Canada’s busiest highway, where a large sign invited the public’s help in finding Ms. Lloyd, pictured at right, who was last seen on January 28th.   An extensive search involved many people in Belleville, a city approximately an hour and a half east of Toronto.     Ms. Comeau, a Canadian army corporal,  had been found murdered on November 25th.

As we discussed the story over dinner, while we reminded ourselves that until brought to trial, Col. Williams is only alleged to have committed the crimes in question, it is no small task to place some in such high profile under arrest.  The police would need a fairly high degree of certainty, while Col. Williams would possibly place himself as beyond suspicion.

All this of course at a time when Canada is enduring painful losses in Afghanistan.

One of the deleted comments at CBC News wondered how anyone could be in charge of one of Canada’s largest military bases with what will certainly emerge as a disturbing mental health profile.   (Williams is also charged with two counts of sexual assault and forcible confinement.)

I feel sad.   Sad not only for the families of the two women and for Williams’ family, but sad for every young person who sees our military — especially right now — as heroes.  Some of that confidence was shattered today.

The shadow it casts on the Canadian military and to Canada itself is leaving us reeling.

How do we teach our children to “respect those in authority,” when those in authority often disappoint?   As adults, who do we trust?   Is there anyone on earth who we can truly trust, or is it inevitable that people are going to let us down?

Psalm 20:7 (NIV) Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

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