Legislation to protect victims’ families reintroduced

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Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu (La Salle, Québec) and Member of Parliament Eric Duncan (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry) simultaneously tabled Private Members Bills in the House of Commons and Senate of Canada to support victim’s families from having to unnecessarily confront the most severe and brutal criminals in Canada. These identical pieces of legislation aim to modify the Criminal Code of Canada to give judges the discretion to hand down life sentences without eligibility for parole from 25 to 40 years in cases of where the perpetrator has abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered their victim.
This Bill, originally tabled in the House of Commons by MP James Bezan (Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman) during the 1st session of the 42nd Parliament, passed through the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and returned to the House of Commons without amendment. It was not passed before Parliament dissolved for the 2019 federal election.

These two pieces of legislation share the same goal: respecting the families of murdered and brutalized people. The vast majority of perpetrators of crimes of this severity never see the outside of their prison cells again, the high-risk and extremely dangerous nature of these individuals do not seek rehabilitation.Despite that fact, they are able to force the families of their victims to relive the horrific details of the murder of their loved ones every two years.

Local M.P., Eric Duncan, said in introducing the legislation to the House: “I am proud to bring this legislation forward again, as it is a compassionate bill that supports victim’s families, who have already been traumatized enough. This is a common-sense, bipartisan bill that has received support from other parties over the years. As parliamentarians, we talk about doing more for victims. This bill gives us the perfect chance to put our words into action. It is time to finally get this across the finish line”.

“It’s out of respect for the pain and suffering of the families of victims that this piece of legislation will modify section 745 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which will give judges the flexibility to determine if an extended ineligibility of parole should be considered given the facts surrounding the case”, said Senator Boisvenu, in the Senate.

The Bill aims to limit the exposure of victims’ families to the person who abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered their loved one during automatic parole hearings after 25 years incarceration. Persons convicted of this series of crimes are automatically eligible for a parole hearing two years after the 23rd year of their sentence, and every two years going forward, despite the fact they are never likely to be granted parole (i.e. Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olsen).

Many of these criminals have used their parole hearings as a platform to re-victimize the families of those they murdered, including recounting their crimes in grotesque detail, seeking to self-gratify by terrorizing the families.

The Bill is intended to protect families from re-victimization, since they feel compelled to attend the murderer’s parole hearing to speak out against release, even if the odds are small parole would be granted. The Bill gives Judges the discretion to increase the period before automatic parole eligibility. or to instruct a jury to make a recommendation on limiting parole eligibility, therefore no Constitutional issues are anticipated.

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