EDMONTON — A woman serving a life sentence for the murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford says her move from a healing lodge back to a prison was unfair.
Lawyers for Terri-Lynn McClintic filed an application in Edmonton court April 30 asking that the move be declared unlawful.
“Ms. McClintic experienced a loss of residual liberty as a consequence of being transferred,” said the application.
“The decisions which led to that loss … were unreasonable and procedurally unfair, and therefore unlawful.”
The application names the Correctional Service of Canada, prison wardens and the federal justice and public safety departments.
A judge ruled Monday that a review is warranted but additional papers need to be filed before it can proceed.
Victoria Stafford was kidnapped while walking home from school in Woodstock, Ont. in 2009, then raped and murdered.
McClintic and her boyfriend, Michael Rafferty, were convicted of first-degree murder. They were sentenced to life with no chance at parole for 25 years.
The pair made headlines last year when Rafferty was transferred to a medium-security prison and McClintic was moved to a minimum-security healing lodge.
After public outcry, and outrage by Stafford’s family, McClintic was moved from the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge near Maple Creek, Sask. to the maximum-security Edmonton Institution for Women.
The court application says she has since been transferred to Grand Valley Institution for Women near Kitchener, Ont., which is a minimum-medium security facility.
Justice John Henderson wrote in his decision Monday that McClintic “no longer has any connection to Alberta and its courts.”
“It is unclear as to what basis an Alberta court has jurisdiction.”
Henderson cancelled an appearance set for Friday and said McClintic has two weeks to file a written submission before the court decides whether to strike the application.
A request for comment to McClintic’s Calgary lawyer, Kelsey Sitar, was not returned.
Healing lodges use Indigenous values, traditions and beliefs to help with inmates with their rehabilitation and get them ready to return to society.
Following McClintic’s transfer to the healing lodge, the federal government announced changes to make it more difficult for prisoners serving long sentences to be moved to such facilities.
Under the new rules, prisoners are not eligible for transfers to lodges without secured perimeters until they near release.
The Correctional Service of Canada must also consider behaviour and how close inmates are to being eligible for unescorted temporary absences before they are transferred.
Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety, said at the time that the changes apply to past and future cases.
“These are decisions that are not taken lightly or capriciously,” Goodale said. “They are based on evidence and sound principles.”
The Canadian Press
Manitoba wants to attract Quebec civil servants worried about clothing law
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is planning to recruit civil servants from Quebec who are concerned about a new law in the province banning religious symbols at work.
Manitoba has a shortage of bilingual civil servants, Premier Brian Pallister says, and will send letters to Quebec professional organizations, colleges and other entities to invite public-sector workers to move west.
“We think that there may be people in Quebec right now who want to come to a province where we don’t have clothing police, where their freedoms will be respected and their rights will be respected,” Pallister said Thursday.
The Quebec ban on religious symbols in the workplace applies only to some people in the civil service in positions of authority, including judges, police officers, court clerks and public school teachers.
Pallister’s office says the Manitoba recruitment effort will target a range of public workers in areas such as education, health care, social services and agriculture.
Critics say it unfairly targets Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities. Quebec Premier Francois Legault has said the law helps ensure secularism in the workplace and is supported by a majority of Quebecers.
Pallister raised his opposition to the law at a meeting of Canada’s premiers in Saskatoon earlier this month, although it was not part of the formal agenda and was not included in the communique issued by the premiers after the meeting.
Pallister said the letter to Quebec organizations will be finalized soon and will be made available publicly.
“I’m not trying to hide the fact that I disagree with Bill 21, and I’m not going to try to hide the fact that we’re going to use the threat of it to serve the needs of the people of Manitoba, and to give opportunity to people who feel at all concerned about that particular bill,” he said.
The Quebec law was a campaign promise by Legault and took effect last month. It is being challenged in court by a national Muslim organization and a civil liberties group.
A Quebec Superior Court judge rejected their application Thursday to suspend the law until the court case can be heard.
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Appeal for calm as tensions mount in Oka over land transfer to Kanesatake
MONTREAL — There were appeals for calm Thursday amid steadily mounting tension in Oka, Que., over a private developer’s plan to return land to the Mohawks of Kanesatake.
Hundreds packed a church Wednesday night in the community, about 90 kilometres northwest of Montreal, to discuss the return of a pine forest central to the 1990 Oka crisis as part of a federal ecological donation to the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake.
The meeting was convened by Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon, who said he was caught off guard by land developer Gregoire Gollin’s intention to donate the 60 hectares known as The Pines last month, ensuring its preservation.
Gollin said he acted in the spirit of reconciliation when he signed the agreement, and was also prepared to discuss the sale of an additional 150 hectares he owns to the federal government to transfer to the Mohawk community — nearly half of which he said is adjacent to land owned by Kanesatake.
Quevillon said he is concerned about Oka becoming “surrounded” by the Mohawk territory, and worried about property values. He implored the federal government to take the town’s concerns into consideration.
He said the adjacent Mohawk community has illegal dumps and numerous cannabis and cigarette merchants — things the village of Oka doesn’t want to see expanded.
“My comments are the reality — I would like to tell you otherwise but it’s the reality in Kanesatake,” Quevillon said.
Quevillon stressed he doesn’t want another Oka crisis but said he fears one could be triggered — this time led by Oka residents worried about encroachment.
“We don’t wish it, but if there is another one, it won’t come from the residents of Kanesatake because it’s the residents of Oka and their rights that are impacted,” Quevillon said.
Speaking to reporters in Montreal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he felt the mayor’s comments about being surrounded “lacked the necessary respect and understanding that is key to true reconciliation.”
“Reconciliation is extremely important for Canada and Canadians, that means overcoming difficult challenges, some loaded with historical significance,” Trudeau said.
“We know that the only way forward is through respectful partnership and dialogue and we certainly hope that all parties in Oka will engage in that respectful and constructive dialogue to allow us to move forward for the benefit of all.”
Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon said tensions with Oka’s leadership have worsened in recent months and he has sought intermediaries like the provincial government to help.
“There’s always been an underlying tension,” Simon said. “There’s always been the ghost of 1990 and a mistrust of each other.”
But Simon took particular issue with the idea that the repatriation of lands would result in a drop in properly values, calling the mayor’s remarks racist.
He also called the notion of invoking another Oka crisis inflammatory, given the historical precedent.
“It’s irresponsible of him knowing damn well what happened and how it happened (in 1990) and he’s following in the same footsteps,” Simon said. “He’s knowingly fomenting a crisis.”
“(It’s) dangerous, very dangerous,” Simon added. “My community, we don’t want to live through something like that again … people back home aren’t afraid to fight, but it comes at a heavy price.”
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador called Thursday for calm, noting the mayor’s comments are reminiscent of how tensions sparked between the Mohawk nation and Quebec some 29 years ago this summer.
Grand Chief Ghislain Picard said the priority is finding a way to talk.
“I certainly feel confident we’ll come to a resolution,” Picard said. “This obviously lies with the capacity of both Oka and Kanesatake to find a common space to engage in a constructive dialogue.”
Also Thursday, Quebec Indigenous Affairs Minister Sylvie D’Amours vowed to work with all sides, even though land claims are federal jurisdiction.
“In order to preserve social peace and ensure the safety of all, Minister D’Amours has been intensifying exchanges with the federal government, the mayor of Oka and the grand chief of Kanesatake for months,” spokeswoman Nadine Gros-Louis said in an email. “It is essential that the dialogue be open and positive.”
The donated land is part of lands central to the Oka crisis which began July 11, 1990.
Gunfire erupted between provincial police and Aboriginals defending a small stand of pine trees from the expansion of a golf course, resulting in the death of officer Marcel Lemay and sparking a 78-day showdown.
At the end of it, a deal was struck to bring down barricades in exchange for cancelling the expansion.
Simon said his own community held a meeting about the ecological gift and raised concerns about a gift of land that belongs to them. But he said it was a way to cut through red tape and keep the lands free from development, noting that part of the forest in question includes a wetland.
As for other future developments, Simon said Oka would be able to invest in projects that would be of use to both communities, like an arena for example, which could promote reconciliation through sport.
“We just need to find a way to work in harmony with our neighbours and promote more co-operation, peace and equality,” Simon said.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
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