Putting Victims First

Today, I announced that I fully support Bill C-266, which proposes to give judges the ability to set the parole ineligibility up to 40 years for those convicted of abduction and sexual assault and murder. The legislation was introduced by Conservative MP, James Bezan and in the last Parliament, received multiparty support for this change.

As it stands, when a murderer is convicted of abduction and sexual assault and murder of a person, the convicted individual is eligible for parole after serving only 25 years.  The victims’ families are re-traumatized by reliving the horror of their loved one’s death at the parole hearing, even though these criminals are almost never granted parole.

Convicted murderers who are eligible for parole does not mean that it will be granted.  In fact, the Parole Board of Canada denies full parole to approximately 7 out of 10 offenders at their first parole review date.

Earlier in this Parliament, the Liberal government voted down Conservative led legislation that would have resulted in actual life sentences, for these types of convicted murders.  As such, murderers such as Paul Bernardo, Michael Rafferty, and Russell Williams, can still apply for parole after serving only 23 years of their sentence.  After that, they are entitled to apply for parole every two years.

The previous Conservative government made significant changes to the justice system when they introduced the Victims Bill of Rights.  Their legislation created the following statutory rights for victims of crime:

Right to information: Victims would have the right to general information about the criminal justice system and available victim services and programs, as well as specific information about the progress of the case, including information relating to the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of the person who harmed them.

Right to protection: Victims would have the right to have their security and privacy considered at all stages of the criminal justice process, to have reasonable and necessary measures to protect them from intimidation and retaliation, and to request their identity be protected from public disclosure.

Right to participation: Victims would have a right to convey their views about decisions to be made by criminal justice professionals and have them considered at various stages of the criminal justice process and to present a victim impact statement.

Right to restitution: Victims would have the right to have the court consider making a restitution order for all offences for which there are easy-to-calculate financial losses.

I believes Bill C-266 is another tangible way to put the interests of victims first.  It is time to stop putting families through meaningless parole hearings.  Our justice system must take into consideration their concerns and I encourage the Trudeau Liberals to vote in favour of this legislation and get this fixed once and for all.

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