OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 04/25/13 -- The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the Government's support for Private Member's Bill C-478, the Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act. Sponsored by James Bezan, M.P. for Selkirk-Interlake, this legislation would restrict parole eligibility for some of the most violent murderers.
"Our Government is committed to keeping our streets and communities safe by ensuring that the most dangerous criminals are kept off our streets and standing up for the families of victims of crime," said Minister Nicholson. "I applaud my colleague James Bezan for his efforts to keep our communities safe and to spare families and loved ones of murder victims from being re-traumatized by repeated parole hearings for convicted murderers."
Bill C-478 would amend the Criminal Code to strengthen the criminal justice system's response to murder where it occurs in the context of a kidnapping or abduction offence and a sexual offence committed against the murder victim. In those circumstances, the Bill proposes that offenders would not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years. Under this Bill, a judge would also have the discretion to replace the 25-year parole ineligibility period for these offenders by a longer period of up to 40 years, based on existing Criminal Code criteria.
"The most vile and deranged murderers in our society are eligible for a parole hearing every two years after their 25 years have been served, and that is morally wrong," said Mr. Bezan. "It is at parole hearings that victims' families are forced to re-live the trauma and confront those who brutalized their loved ones. This legislation would empower our courts to change this."
The Government's support for the proposed legislation is in keeping with the Government's Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, which is one of four priorities identified recently by the Prime Minister. This plan focuses on holding violent criminals accountable, enhancing the rights of victims, and increasing the efficiency of our justice system.
Internet: www.canada.justice.gc.ca (Version francaise disponible)
Backgrounder: Government of Canada Supports Private Member's Bill C-478
The Government of Canada announced its support of Private Member's Bill C-478, the Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act, on April 25, 2013. The Bill, introduced by James Bezan, M.P. for Selkirk-Interlake, on February 27, 2013, proposes to amend the Criminal Code to strengthen the criminal justice system's response to murder where it occurs in the context of a kidnapping-related offence and a sexual offence.
The Current Parole Regime for Murder
Murder is categorized as being in the first or second degree and is punishable by life imprisonment with the right to apply for parole after a period of parole ineligibility. That period is 25 years for first-degree and a minimum of 10 years for most second-degree murders. However, for second-degree murder, a judge has the authority to increase the parole ineligibility period up to a maximum of 25 years based on the nature and circumstances of the murder, the character of the murderer and any jury recommendation in this regard.
Proposed Changes to the Parole Regime for Murder
Bill C-478 would help ensure that in a case where the murderer is also convicted of committing a kidnapping-related offence and a sexual offence against the murder victim, these aggravating circumstances are taken into account and reflected in a longer period of parole ineligibility when the murderer is sentenced.
Bill C-478 proposes:
-- the mandatory imposition of a minimum parole ineligibility period of 25 years for murderers who are also convicted of both a kidnapping-related offence and a sexual offence against the murder victim; and-- giving discretion to the sentencing judge in such cases, to replace the mandatory 25-year period of parole ineligibility with a longer period of up to 40 years based on the nature and the circumstances of the offences, the character of the murderer, and any jury recommendation in this regard.
The Government supports this Private Member's Bill and intends to bring forward an amendment to ensure a greater degree of clarity and consistency in the law.
The Government of Canada's support for Private Member's Bill C-478 is consistent with other measures that have passed in 2011 to restrict parole eligibility for murderers:
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act (Bill S-6) (Effective date: December 2, 2011)
This legislation ensures a "life" sentence means life by repealing the "faint-hope clause," which allows murderers to apply for early parole eligibility after serving 15 years of their sentences. These Criminal Code amendments also placed procedural restrictions on those who currently have the right to apply for faint-hope relief. These changes are designed to spare victims' families the anguish of attending repeated parole eligibility hearings and having to relive their losses over and over again.
Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act (Bill C-48) (Effective date: December 2, 2011)
This legislation helps ensure that the life of each murder victim is acknowledged in the sentencing process and that those who commit multiple murders will serve a sentence that more adequately reflects the heinous nature of their crimes. These Criminal Code amendments authorized a sentencing judge to add separate 25-year periods of ineligibility for parole, one for the second and each subsequent murder. These periods of parole ineligibility would run consecutively to that imposed for the first murder.
Department of Justice Canada
Julie Di Mambro
Office of the Minister of Justice
Media Relations Office
Department of Justice