Nova Scotia

Raymond Taavel's family gets formal apology from Nova Scotia government

The Nova Scotia government has formally apologized to the family and friends of Raymond Taavel, who was beaten to death by a psychiatric patient who walked away from a secure mental health facility in Dartmouth.

Taavel beaten to death by Andre Noel, a psychiatric patient who went AWOL from East Coast Forensic Hospital

Raymond Taavel is shown in a 2008 handout photo. His family requested a formal apology from the provincial government after he was beaten to death in 2012 by a man who had gone AWOL from a secure mental health facility. (The Canadian Press/Shambhala Sun-Marvin Moore)

The Nova Scotia government has formally apologized to the family and friends of Raymond Taavel, who was beaten to death by a psychiatric patient who walked away from a secure mental health facility in Dartmouth.

The public apology was one of the conditions set by Taavel's family before it would drop a lawsuit filed against the province.

The apology came from the Minister of Health Leo Glavine, whose department is responsible for the East Coast Forensic Hospital.

"On behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia, I sincerely apologize to the family and friends of Raymond Taavel," Glavine told members of the Nova Scotia Legislature.

Taavel was beaten to death outside Menz Bar, a popular gay club on Gottingen Street in Halifax in April 2012. The 49-year-old died after a fight with Andre Noel Denny, a man who has several mental illnesses.

Denny had gone AWOL from the East Coast Forensic Hospital. Last month, he has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Taavel's death.

Glavine said Taavel was an active member of the Halifax LGBT community and "his loss deeply affected many." Glavine told the House the death "will not be in vain."

"We are determined to ensure that positive change comes from this terrible tragedy," he said. 

'Death was senseless'

The opposition parties added their voices to those of the government on Wednesday.

Progressive Conservative health critic Chris d'Entremont also apologized on behalf of his caucus.

"Ramond Taavel's death was senseless," he said. "He is mourned by many in our province. And there's nothing we can do to lighten that burden. Mr. Speaker, only time can heal those wounds."

Interim NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald, who knew the gay rights activist personally, offered a more personal reflection on his life in her party's apology.

"The kind of passion he brought to issues [was] unparalleled in my experience and I've been at a lot of meetings where there was a lot of passion," she said.

"So to his partner, to his family, I understand your heartache."

Marc Dunning, the lawyer who represents the Taavel family, outlined what was behind the request for an apology.

"The family saw that as a necessary element to obtain their closure in this tragic situation," he said.

"The family certainly accepts the apology. Recognizes the work that the government has done in the wake of Raymond's death and is now ready to move forward as best they can to put this behind them."

Part of that moving forward is dropping a lawsuit against the province.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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