Poilievre Announces Tory Bill to Have Serial Killers Like Bernardo Serve Full Sentence in Maximum Security Prison

Poilievre Announces Tory Bill to Have Serial Killers Like Bernardo Serve Full Sentence in Maximum Security Prison
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 8, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Isaac Teo

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has announced that his party will be introducing a private member’s bill that seeks to keep mass murderers such as serial killer and rapist Paul Bernardo in maximum security prison until they serve out their sentences.

Poilievre said the bill soon to be introduced by Tory MP Tony Baldinelli would “ban” the Trudeau government from “moving multiple murderers, mass murderers into medium security.”

“The Conservative bill would require every mass murderer [to] serve out their full sentence in maximum security,” he said at a press conference on Parliament Hill on June 11.

The bill is being brought forward after the decision by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to transfer Bernardo to a medium-security institution in Quebec.

Bernardo is currently serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of 15-year-old Kristen French and 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy in the early 1990s near St. Catherines, Ontario.

Dubbed the “Scarborough Rapist,” Bernardo has also admitted to sexually assaulting 14 other women and was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Tammy Homolka—sister of his former wife Karla Homolka—who died after being drugged and sexually assaulted.

Bernardo was initially incarcerated at the Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario and later spent about a decade at the Millhaven Institution, a maximum security prison just outside Kingston.

With Poilievre were three close friends of French, one of whom he said received a “troubling phone call” from French’s family about a week ago saying that the CSC had informed them about Bernardo’s transfer to the La Macaza Institution northwest of Montreal.

“This is obviously unacceptable and outrageous. [Bernardo] will have more freedom, more interaction with other people, inmates, prison personnel, possibly even allowed to have visitors,” he said.

“This not only puts other people in danger, but it represents harassment for the families of the victims who have to get these kinds of calls.”

‘Reverse This Decision’

Criticism of Bernardo’s transfer has been echoing through Parliament Hill, Ontario’s legislature, and across different police associations.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the CSC’s decision was “shocking and incomprehensible,” and said Canadians deserve to know why Bernardo was transferred from to a medium-security prison.

In a statement to The Canadian Press on June 9, CSC spokesman Kevin Antonucci said that under the privacy law, the correctional service cannot disclose an inmate’s personal information without their consent “except in specific circumstances.”

It says considerations include the sensitivity of the information as well as the likelihood and level of “injury relative to the benefits of the disclosure to the public.”

“Security classifications and transfers are based on risk to public safety, escape risk, and the offender’s institutional adjustment, and case information such as psychological risk assessments,” Antonucci said.

Poilievre said the Liberal government has the authority to reverse the CSC’s decision.

“I should note that the Trudeau government has the power today to reverse this decision under Section 6.1 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act,” he said.

“A minister of public safety can direct the [CSC] commissioner to classify an entire group of prisoners as requiring maximum security, detention.”

He is calling on Canadians to contact the prime minister’s office to urge the Liberal caucus adopt Baldinelli’s bill.

“We encourage all members of the public, every Canadian who cares about justice, to call Trudeau’s office and urge him to have his caucus unanimously adopt this common sense Conservative bill to keep mass murderers in maximum security penitentiary.”

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.