Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre speaks with reporters before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs on Parliament Hill, Tuesday, June 6, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is calling on the Liberals to keep “multiple murderers” in maximum-security prison as fallout continues over the transfer of convicted killer Paul Bernardo to a medium-security institution in Quebec.
And Ontario Premier Doug Ford is looking for the ouster of the federal corrections commissioner after the move, which was made public last week.
Anne Kelly, commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, announced the transfer was under review Monday after Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said he was as shocked Canadians were by the decision.
Bernardo is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, torture and murders of 15-year-old Kristen French in 1991 and 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy in 1992. He was also convicted of manslaughter in the 1990 death of Tammy Homolka, the 15-year-old sister of his then-wife, Karla Homolka.
Homolka pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the crimes committed against French and Mahaffy, and was released in 2005 after serving a 12-year sentence. Bernardo also admitted to sexually assaulting 14 other women.
Speaking from the provincial legislature, Ford said Canadians have lost confidence in Kelly’s decision-making and asked that she “step aside, step down or be fired.”
“Sorry for the language, but he’s nothing but a scumbag,” Ford said of Bernardo, whose transfer has also garnered widespread backlash from police associations in Ontario.
“This S.O.B. needs to be in jail 23 hours a day in a maximum security (facility).”
In a statement late Tuesday, Correctional Service of Canada spokesman Kevin Antonucci said Kelly “has devoted her career to corrections and has worked tirelessly to uphold the safety of our communities.”
“She has made meaningful progress on her mandate commitments and remains committed to building on this essential work.”
He added that Bernardo’s transfer poses no risk to public safety.
Mendicino has said he is unable to reverse the transfer decision because the federal correctional service operates as an independent institution.
Poilievre said Tuesday he rejects that explanation and demanded Trudeau step in.
“I’m calling on the prime minister to direct his public safety minister to say that all mass murderers should have to serve their entire sentences in maximum security prisons,” Poilievre told reporters.
“This is a no-brainer and the prime minister can do it. He’s got to stop passing the buck.”
Poilievre’s office has suggested that such power exists in the form of directives from ministers, which are typically used to address broad policy issues.
Mendicino said Tuesday he expects the review into Bernardo’s transfer will only take a couple of weeks “at the most,” and suggested any discussion around policy changes must wait until its conclusion.
“Look, if there are issues with regards to policies, with regards to the principles, even with regards to the legislation — I’m going to leave all of those options on the table,” he said.
“We’ll see where we are at in a couple of weeks’ time and after that, if we need to revisit the legislation or any of their policies or directions, then we’ll do that.”
The correctional service said it understands Bernardo’s transfer comes as a shock to some and acknowledged in a statement Monday that it did not intend to cause harm to his victims.
It has said decisions around the security classification of offenders must adhere with the law and depend on factors including their risk to public safety, their threat of escaping and psychological assessments.
The reason Bernardo was moved has not been divulged, but the prison he was transferred to is known for housing violent sex offenders and specializes in treating people convicted of sexual offences.
On Tuesday, Mendicino said “we do have access to those reasons” for Bernardo’s transfer, but stressed that because of privacy provisions, it is up to the federal correctional service to decide whether it can release those reasons publicly.
“I do believe, given the fact that this matter is now public, that Canadians are entitled to an explanation,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2023.
Winnipeg man pleads guilty to manslaughter in the death of Saskatchewan RCMP officer
A man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of a Saskatchewan RCMP officer. RCMP Constable Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. Patton, of the Indian Head Detachment, was killed on June 12, 2021, after being hit by a pickup truck during a traffic stop. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
By Jeremy Simes in Regina
The mother of a Saskatchewan RCMP officer who was killed two years ago says it was “hell” to watch a Winnipeg man plead guilty to manslaughter in her son’s death.
Alphonse Stanley Traverse pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the charge in Regina Court of King’s Bench for his role in Const. Shelby Patton’s death. Traverse also pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing a motor vehicle.
“It’s very traumatic,” Melanie Patton, the mother of the 26-year-old Mountie, said in an interview.
“It’s better than sitting through a trial, but at the same time there’s so much trauma and we’re not going to recover. It’s like I’m living in hell.”
Shelby Patton was killed more than two years ago when he attempted to stop a stolen truck, driven by Traverse, near the town of Wolseley, east of Regina.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Traverse had been driving from Winnipeg to Saskatchewan in June 2021 to play VLTs. He was with Marlene Pagee at the time, and they chose to go to Saskatchewan because bars were open in the province. COVID-19 measures meant bars were closed in Manitoba.
Traverse was on warrant status for various Criminal Code offences, the document said, and Pagee had been on bail with conditions. She also faces one count of accessory to murder after the fact in Patton’s death.
Court heard Traverse and Pagee were driving a stolen green truck as they made their way to Saskatchewan. They were both using crystal meth.
However, the green truck wasn’t working well, so Traverse and Pagee began looking for another vehicle. The document said they came across another truck near Pipestone, Man., and stole it. The truck was unlocked and had keys in the ignition.
The document said Traverse and Pagee made their way to Wolseley and stopped outside a hotel. Patton was then dispatched to investigate a suspected stolen truck in town.
When Patton arrived, court heard the couple noticed the Mountie’s car, so they decided to drive away. However, Patton stopped them shortly thereafter and walked towards the driver’s window, speaking with Traverse.
Court heard Patton had asked Traverse if he worked for the company that owned the truck. Traverse lied, saying he did. Patton then told him the truck had been reported stolen, asking him to step out of the vehicle until the issue could be sorted.
Traverse then turned to Pagee, saying “I can’t,” and started the truck.
Court heard Patton stepped up on the truck’s running board and reached for the key’s inside. The truck then accelerated rapidly and jerked.
The document said Patton fell off the running board. The rear driver-side tire ran over his body, killing him.
Melanie Patton said her son’s death was no accident.
“He was a very good officer. He did not make a mistake,” she said. “I’m sure any officer would have done the same. The job is very dangerous and getting more dangerous, unfortunately.”
She said she hopes Traverse is given the maximum penalty.
Traverse is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 17.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.
Conditional sentence for woman who set fires at start of 2022 wildfire season
A 43-year-old Kamloops, B.C., woman has been sentenced for two arson fires she admitted to setting. A warning sign about fire risk is seen as smoke from wildfires fills the air, in Kelowna, B.C., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
A 43-year-old Kamloops, B.C., woman who admitted to setting two arson fires has been sentenced.
Angela Cornish was charged with four counts of arson, related to numerous fires set between April and May 2022, at the start of the wildfire season.
Cornish pleaded guilty to two arsons near the southern Interior community of Lac Le Jeune and records show she received a six month conditional sentence during an appearance in provincial court in Kamloops on Tuesday.
The court stayed three other charges related to alleged arsons near Monte Lake, Pinantan Lake and Lac Le Jeune.
An investigation by RCMP and the BC Wildfire Service began last spring after residents alerted officials to slash piles that had been set ablaze along remote logging roads south and east of Kamloops.
None of the fires spread into the nearby grass or bush.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.
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