An Edmonton judge hopes the murder of two boys by their father will shed light on the need for better mental health care.
That’s among his conclusions in a fatality inquiry report on the deaths of Caleb Cardinal, 6, and his brother Gabriel, 3, more than six years ago in an Abbotsfield home. Their dad, Jason Cardinal, is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
Cardinal and the boys’ mother were in a custody battle, along with their involvement with children’s services. Cardinal sedated and strangled the boys during an unsupervised weekend visit on December 19, 2010.
“This is based upon Mr. Cardinal’s twisted logic that his boys were better off dead than being raised by their mother, Andrea Badger,” said Alberta Provincial Court Judge Raymond Bodnarek in his report, which concluded that “their deaths were not caused by flaws in the system.”
The judge made no recommendations on how to prevent similar deaths in the future, but noted that “this case shines a light on the sometimes devastating impact that mental illness can have in our community and on the importance of timely access to mental health services.”
Bodnarek said caseworkers and doctors made reasonable judgment calls about Cardinal getting access to his kids, in spite of concerns about his mental health and use of discipline.
“Sadly, as demonstrated by this case, even within a proper functioning child welfare system terrible things can sometimes happen,” wrote Bodnarek. “In part, this relates to the challenges of predicating (sic) human behaviour with absolute certainty.”
The fatality inquiry heard concerns about a shortage of psychiatrists in Alberta. The judge hopes a recent government review of the mental health system is a step in the right direction.