Poilievre Calls for Mendicino to Resign Over Revelations on Bernardo Prison Transfer

Poilievre Calls for Mendicino to Resign Over Revelations on Bernardo Prison Transfer
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino speaks in House of Commons in Ottawa, April 26, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Peter Wilson

Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre is calling on Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino to resign in light of revelations that his office was aware of Paul Bernardo’s transfer to a medium-security prison months ago.

“He’s lied about his knowledge and role in moving Paul Bernardo from a maximum security penitentiary to a medium security penitentiary,” Poilievre told reporters in Ottawa on June 14. “These are too many lies. It’s one lie too many. It is time for Marco Mendocino to resign.”

Despite Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino previously saying that the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) made a “shocking and incomprehensible“ decision by transferring serial killer and rapist Paul Bernardo into the medium-security prison, CSC now says that it informed Mendicino’s office of the transfer months before it became public.

“The Correctional Service of Canada has a process in place to provide advanced notice to the Minister’s office on high-profile offenders,” the CSC wrote to The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

The CSC added that it notified Mendicino’s office of the transfer by email—which it said “included communications products”—on March 2 as well as May 25.

The CSC said that the March 2 email contained information notifying Mendicino’s office of the transfer and also “communications messaging to support this.” At the time, the CSC had not yet confirmed the date of Bernardo’s prospective transfer.

However, the CSC said the email sent to the minister’s office on May 25 contained both “updated communications messaging” and a notification that the transfer would occur on May 29.

Bernardo is currently serving a life sentence for kidnapping, torturing, and murdering two teenage girls in the early 1990s near St. Catherines, Ont., along with a number of other charges for rape and sexual assault.
Bernardo has now been transferred from the Kingston-area maximum security prison, Millhaven Institution, to the medium-security La Macaza Institution, located northwest of Montreal.

Offender transfer decisions fall under the CSC’s sole purview and not the public safety minister’s, but Mendicino had previously expressed surprise at Bernardo’s transfer decision and criticized it.

“The Correctional Service of Canada’s independent decision to transfer Paul Bernardo to a medium security institution is shocking and incomprehensible,” he wrote in a statement on June 2.
Mendicino added in the same statement that he would be “addressing the transfer decision process directly” with the CSC commissioner.

Mendicino Comments on CSC Claims

Mendicino addressed the new information from CSC during question period in the House of Commons on June 14, saying his office was previously informed of the transfer decision but he was not briefed on the information.

Mendicino said he was not informed of Bernardo’s transfer decision until May 30—the day after the transfer took place.

“I have taken corrective steps internally with my office,” Mendicino said, adding that he has informed his staff that they should’ve briefed him on the matter sooner.

The minister added that he will be issuing new ministerial instructions to the CSC today to “make sure that they put victims’ rights at the center of decisions to transfer.”

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said today that he wouldn’t call for Mendicino to resign because he believes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be held accountable for setting a tone in his cabinet where ministers are “not doing their work.”

“Removing removing a minister isn’t the solution,” he said. “This is a government that’s got to be held accountable. They’ve got to do something to clean up their house.”

Isaac Teo contributed to this report.