Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 38 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Thursday, November 28, 1996
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-45, to amend the criminal code (judicial review of parole ineligibility) and another Act, met this day at 10:30 a.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator Sharon Carstairs (Chair) in the Chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, we are pleased to have with us today the Honourable Charles Harnick, Attorney General of the province of Ontario, and Mr. David Tilson, his Parliamentary Assistant.
Mr. David Tilson, Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General of Ontario: Madam Chair, I represent the riding of Dufferin-Peel which is just north-west of Toronto. We are privileged to be here today.
Accompanying Attorney General the Honourable Charles Harnick today is Ms Ann Gage, the widow of Sergeant Ron McKean. Ms Gage has just gone through the turmoil and distress of a section 745 hearing for the man who murdered her husband. She will be able to share with us the perspective of the survivors of these crimes and the impact of these hearings on them. We will then hear from Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt, who is a survivor in the case of the hideous crimes perpetrated by Clifford Olson. Mr. Rosenfeldt and his wife have been working for the repeal of section 745 for several years. He will offer his outlook on the legislation.
As you know, section 745 of the Criminal Code has become an issue of great concern to Canadians and of equally great concern to the government and people of Ontario. It is on their behalf that we appear today.
The concern of the government of Ontario has been expressed in a resolution which I had the honour to introduce to the Ontario legislature last April. That resolution was accepted with the support of all three parties in the legislature. I will leave copies of that resolution with the committee today. I will not read the resolution in full. It simply requests the government of Ontario to urge the Government of Canada to repeal section 745 in its entirety and to ensure that convicted murderers serve their entire sentences and to protect victims and their families and the community.
The sense of this resolution is clear. We want the government of Canada to repeal section 745 in its entirety, to ensure that convicted murderers serve their full sentences. Thousands of citizens have signed petitions supporting the abolition of section 745. I have some of these petitions here, which we will leave with you in due course. The few that I am presenting to you today symbolize the many thousands who have expressed their opposition to this section.
Opposition to section 745 is almost universal in the province of Ontario, as it is, indeed, right across Canada. A public opinion poll commissioned by the Solicitor General of Canada tells us that about 80 per cent of Canadians want it abolished.
The reasons are not difficult to understand. The people of Ontario are moved by revulsion at the crimes committed by those murderers now seeking compassion. They are moved by compassion for those victims who have suffered from those crimes. They have come to believe, as the government of Ontario believes, that we must refocus our system of justice so that it offers sympathy and support not to those who commit the heinous crimes but to those who are victimized by them. They have come to agree, as the government of Ontario agrees, that section 745 hearings constitute an attack on fundamental principles of justice and, as such, bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
Murder is a rare crime in our society. About half of 1 per cent of violent crimes result in death. Of those, less than 10 per cent result in a conviction for first degree murder. Each year, we add about 40 new inmates to the federal prison population who have been sentenced to more than 20 years for a homicide. These are not large numbers. In order to earn a sentence of 20 years or longer without parole, a murderer must do something unusually horrific or unusually sadistic or unusually evil. We are dealing with the Clifford Olsons and the Paul Bernardos of the world in these hearings. They are not the exceptions in section 745 hearings; they are the rule.
We regard murder as the most serious of all crimes. We believe it merits the most severe penalties. The people affected in section 745 are the worst of the murderers. This type of judicial review applies to no other crime and no other criminal.
So the obvious question is: Why? Why do we want to extend this special clemency to the very worst of the murderers, when we do not extend it to anyone else? What makes them so special that they merit a mercy and a compassion that we extend to no one else? Why should we extend a special compassion to Saul Betesh and Robert Kribs, who were convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing a 12-year-old shoeshine boy named Emmanuel Jacques. They are eligible to apply now and they have every incentive to do so.
Why should we extend our special compassion to Ronald Neely, 53, who went on a rampage when his wife moved out with their four children. He killed his 13-year-old son with a shotgun and wounded two of his daughters. Family members fear that if he gets out early, he will come back to finish them off as he has threatened to do.
Why should we extend our special compassion to Anthony Speciale who executed three people, Stanley Norman and Bill and Paul Lianzakis, in what appeared to be a gangland-style execution? Even the amendments to this section passed by the government would still allow him to apply for early release.
Why does Terrence Musgrave merit our compassion? He was convicted of stabbing a store-owner named Cathy Maruya 28 times. Musgrave was out of prison on mandatory supervision at the time of the murder. About a third of the killers now asking for clemency had been released from prison or were under supervision when they committed their crimes.
What about Helmut Buxbaum? What makes him worthy of our sympathy? You will remember that he arranged the brutal murder of his wife and tried to arrange a second contract killing from prison. Why should we offer him the opportunity to win early release?
Why do Richard Sauvé and Gary Comeau deserve clemency? They were members of the Satan's Choice convicted of executing a rival biker in a bar. Like so many others, they claim they are reformed and deserve clemency.
Why should we offer special treatment to Roman Swietlinski, who stabbed a medical secretary named Mary Frances McKenna 132 times using five different knives in an unprovoked attack?
Why should Robert Desgroseilliers get special consideration? He was convicted of arranging his wife's brutal murder for a $100,000 insurance policy. You cannot convince me that any jury would release these people from prison; yet several of them have already been released. What is there about any of these cases now that suggests that we should overturn the decision of the jury and the judge at the original trial?
Corrections Canada has identified 123 individuals in federal prisons who are eligible to apply for section 745 hearings by the turn of the century. All of those individuals were convicted of their crimes in a trial that provided every opportunity for a full and complete defence. All of these trials featured evidence amassed as a result of a thorough police investigation. The sentences were passed by judges who had access to complete information, not only about the crime but about the criminal. Many appealed their verdicts to the furthest end of the criminal justice system, a form of judicial review much more thorough and much more complete than anything available under section 745.
The sentences imposed on these individuals were considered to be just after the most exhaustive examination that we can devise. What possible justification is there for revisiting these sentences 15 years after the fact on the basis of information which the Auditor General told us earlier this week is, at best, incomplete and, at worst, self-serving?
The judges and juries who adjudicated these cases and imposed these sentences had much better information than we do. What information persuaded them that the crime was so far beyond the norms of decent society that killers should receive the maximum sentence? What reasonable basis is there for substituting our judgment for theirs?
There are two answers, and neither is satisfactory. The first is that the killer's subsequent behaviour in prison has been so exemplary that he -- and I say "he" because there are virtually no women in this group -- has been reformed. He has atoned for his crime and can now become a useful member of society. There are a number of objections to that. One is that the prospect of escaping from prison will induce most people to pretend to have atoned, even if atonement does not exist. We are notoriously inept at identifying who is reformed and who is faking it.
Correctional Service Canada has conducted a number of long-term studies of prisoners released to community supervision. The results vary depending on the methodology, but overall almost 40 per cent of the people released from prison end up back behind bars. The failure rate among paroled killers is almost as high. A long-term study by Correctional Service Canada showed that 22.5 per cent of released murderers ended up in prison again, and about 30 per cent of the prisoners released after serving sentences for manslaughter were returned to prison. One-third of the offences they committed were crimes against the person.
Incidentally, 17 of those released killers committed another murder, and two more tried to commit murder. On the evidence, we have great difficulty determining which murderer is truly reformed and which is faking it to get out of jail sooner. The protection of the public suffers as a result.
A more compelling reason for refusing to consider these requests for clemency is the impact on the survivors of these crimes, the relatives and loved ones of the victims. We will hear their stories later, but I want to read to you a brief statement from one of the people who could not join us this morning. Her name is Joanne Kaplinski. Her brother Ken was a motel clerk murdered in a botched hold-up attempt. One of the people involved in that crime made a well publicized appeal for early release under section 745. Ms Kaplinski writes:
On January 29, 1978, my brother, Kenneth John Kaplinski, 24, was working as a night clerk at an inn in Barrie, Ontario. After a robbery, he was taken away by car and shot twice in the head at close range, execution style. His decomposed body was found two months later.
Two men, Edward Sales and Allan Kinsella, were each convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole for 25 years. Kinsella had an extensive criminal record, and was free on parole at the time.
This past December 1993, my family and I were incensed to find that the murderer of Ken was making an application for a reduction of his life sentence using Section 745.
We can't believe that this is even an option, and it is equally astounding that our tax dollars are being used to fund such a travesty. -- early parole after serving only 15 years of his original sentence flies in the face of the decision handed down by the trial judge.
My brother's young son, my family and myself have been sentenced to a lifetime of sorrow and loss.
Why must we be further victimized by a judicial system that insists on turning a blind eye to the victims of crime; that insists on keeping us silent -- and that insists on orchestrating itself around the rights of murderers rather than the rights of the victims and their families?
Fortunately, for society, for my family and myself, justice was served in Kinsella's judicial review. The jury denied his application for a reduction of his parole eligibility and instructed that he may not reapply before the 25 year sentence is complete.
Upon the close of this review for Kinsella, we were advised by the Crown that the co-convicted murderer Edward Sales is proceeding with his application under Section 745.
My family and I will soon be subjected to this outrage and indignation yet again. And we may never cancel our membership in the victim's club -- a club where membership has no privileges.
That statement speaks for itself. There is nothing that I can add to it, but I would be interested in hearing what response the supporters of section 745 can make to Ms Kaplinski's questions. Why should we orchestrate our system of criminal justice around the rights of murderers while we turn a blind eye to the plight of the victims and even victimize the survivors again?
Ms Kaplinski's statement speaks to the final point I want to make this morning. The other justification offered for the early release of murderers is the need to show compassion and support for their attempts at rehabilitation. I will quote two statements from the supporters of this section. The first is from Neil Body, the director of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. Professor Body writes:
The value of Section 745 is that it provides hope and incentive for change in the monotonous and sometimes violent prison environment. This is not a message we should abandon.
The second quote is from the John Howard Society of Alberta. The society says:
We believe that every person has intrinsic worth and the right to be treated with dignity, equity, fairness and compassion without discrimination when involved in the criminal justice process. We also believe that all people have the potential to become responsible citizens.
Judicial review is a dignified, equitable, fair and compassionate provision which recognizes the ability of people to change. ... Therefore, the John Howard Society of Alberta believes that Section 745 of the Criminal Code of Canada should be retained.
I believe that summarizes the position of those who support section 745. They say that the law provides hope and incentive for the helpless and therefore should be retained. I strongly support compassion for those involved in the justice system. I believe that every person has the right to be treated with dignity, equity and fairness, but it is clear to me, as it is clear to the vast majority of Ontarians and Canadians, that this right must be equally extended to the survivors of these ghastly crimes, not only to the perpetrators of them.
This law does not do that. Even with the amendments which the government has introduced in the bill before you, section 745 is unjust. In the name of compassion for killers, we are imposing an onerous and unjust burden on their victims. Is it proper to respond to evil actions with compassion when that compassion increases the harm done to the survivors? My answer is no, it is not proper. We should respond to the victims with compassion. We should respond to the criminals with justice. That is the sentiment expressed in this petition which we have circulated around the province of Ontario.
I will read the petition, which is brief. It has been signed by thousands across Ontario. It has been read and presented in the Ontario legislature. It states:
Whereas the Ontario Progressive Conservative government has passed a resolution urging the Government of Canada to repeal Section 745 of the Criminal Code of Canada to ensure that convicted murderers serve their entire sentences,
And whereas convicted first degree murderers are allowed to apply to the court for a reduction of the parole ineligibility period,
And whereas victims' families must relive the horrors of the original crime through a jury hearing for this early parole and relive this every time the killer is given rehearings for early parole,
And whereas the Provincial Government must bear a large degree of the costs involved with a jury hearing,
We the undersigned ask the Attorney General of Ontario to request the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to reconsider his decision under bill C-45 and to repeal Section 745 of the Criminal Code.
Honourable senators, on behalf of the government of Ontario I am pleased to present to you these symbolic copies of this petition, which I believe express the views and the sentiments of the people of Ontario.
That concludes my comments, Madam Chair. I should now like to introduce to you the Attorney General of the province of Ontario, the Honourable Charles Harnick.
Mr. Charles Harnick, Attorney General of Ontario: Honourable senators, let me begin my remarks by thanking you for the opportunity to appear before you today. The Senate and this committee render a valuable service to Canadians by providing an opportunity to re-examine proposed legislation. I assure you that Canadians value this service, and I very much value the opportunity that you are giving me today.
The issue that we are considering, the reform of section 745 of the Criminal Code, has attracted unprecedented opposition from Canadians in all parts of our country. I speak today for the government and people of Ontario, but the outrage engendered by this law extends to all parts of our land. There is virtually no support for this legislation. Think of that fact for a moment. It is astonishing.
As a people, Canadians greatly respect the law. We accept the need for compromise and the idea that the middle ground is often the best way. There is no middle ground on Bill C-45, no middle ground for the amendments that you are considering, which are designed to meet the most egregious failings of the original legislation. There is no public support for this legislation.
In polls conducted in Ontario, section 745, including the amendments, is opposed by a ratio of four to one. As you move further west into the prairie provinces and British Columbia, there is the same great discomfort and opposition. The more people know about this legislation, the more they oppose it.
We are legislators. It is our responsibility and privilege to make the laws that serve our fellow citizens. We must discharge that responsibility properly. Our task is to govern for the benefit of society as a whole. We cannot ignore the popular will. Laws that have no public support, laws that are universally despised are bad laws. They call the administration of justice into disrepute and they threaten the integrity of the justice system.
I think there are three reasons for the almost universal rejection of section 745. The first has to do with the political process that has produced it. Canadians believe it to be less than transparent. Section 745 is an attempt to achieve by indirect means a reduction in the penalties the law imposes for the most horrifying and terrible of murders. Section 745 accomplishes this purpose through the back door. Canadians are resentful of this kind of political manoeuvring.
The second reason has to do with the effect of the legislation on the safety of our communities: that is, to set free a large majority of offenders. For example, my colleague Mr. Tilson referred earlier to a study conducted of section 745 hearings in Ontario up to the end of 1995. The study found that 79 per cent of the murderers who went before a section 745 jury won some reduction of their sentence. Of those who subsequently went on to a parole board hearing, 84 per cent were given some form of parole.
Those are pretty good odds. From the convicted murderer's perspective it costs nothing to try. If he wins his case, he goes free. If he loses, he has to complete the sentence that was already imposed. Most of the time, legal aid pays the bills. It is small wonder that the proportion of killers asking for section 745 hearings is steadily increasing.
There is a third reason that people dislike section 745. It has to do with the distortion it encourages in sentencing. Canadians are coming to regard the sentencing process as a sham. Judges impose sentences that seem severe. However, people are increasingly aware that no criminal will ever serve a full sentence. "Life" does not mean life. "Twenty-five years without parole" does not mean 25 years. Even shorter sentences bear little relationship to the time served. "Ten years for armed robbery" means three and one-half years, with short-term passes after as little as 20 months, counting from the date of arrest and so on.
Canadians are increasingly aware of this. They are demanding truth in sentencing. In my view, we risk a growing mistrust of the justice system that stems directly from the lack of truth and consistency in sentencing, and section 745 is the worst example of this problem. That is what I mean when I say it brings the administration of justice into disrepute and threatens the integrity of the justice system.
The original legislation was bad law for all these reasons. While the amendments to section 745 will ameliorate some of the worst features of the original, they will only make it less bad; they will not make it good legislation.
Ontario sees the provision that specifically allows the use of victim impact statements as a welcome improvement. There have been cases under the existing law where the families of murder victims were denied the opportunity to contradict the self-serving statements of applicants. In one Ontario case, the review judge interpreted the law to mean, and I quote, "The pain and anger of the family have no place in the courtroom."
The amendments will clarify that section of the law. However, the provision that applications must be screened by a judge to determine if there is a reasonable prospect of success will not discourage killers from using this section. I want to interpret that exactly. The words of the section are: "reasonable prospect of success".
I want to talk about that for a moment, deviating from my text. In Ontario, we have a system of "charge screening" that Crown prosecutors use to determine whether cases should proceed through the justice system. They screen cases using two tests. One test is to determine whether there is reasonable prospect of conviction. If it is determined that, yes, there is a reasonable prospect of conviction, then the second test is: Is it in the public interest to proceed? If the answer to both of those questions is "yes", then that case is screened by Crown prosecutors on that basis and it proceeds through the court system.
Ontario has the lowest charge screening standard of any jurisdiction in the country. This means that when Crown attorneys review cases on the basis of the test of reasonable prospect of conviction, most cases get through that screening process and proceed to trial.
What we have before us here is a screening standard that says "reasonable prospect of success". What I am here to tell senators is that "reasonable prospect of success" is the absolutely lowest charge screening standard that could be accepted when a judge is asked to review these cases in the two-stage review which the amendments would put in place. I tell you that that is designed specifically to open the doors to as many applications as are possible. The people of this country and the people of Ontario want to know about that. If they know about that and understand that, then this aspect of the amendments is something that they cannot accept.
Judges interpret the law. As legislators, our role is to ensure that those laws represent the people we serve. How can a judge not make the determination that there is a reasonable prospect of success when almost 80 per cent of the cases brought forward under section 745.6 today succeed? The principle result of the judicial screening mechanism will be to increase the number of cases that go to appeal.
There are many other reasons to oppose section 745.6. I have not spoken about the impact of this section on the families of the victims, nor of the constant pain and loss felt by the survivors of these vicious crimes. In a few moments, some of those people will speak on their own behalf more directly and personally than I could speak for them.
Ontario has passed a victims' bill of rights. Paramount in the way we administer the Criminal Code today is ensuring that the rights of victims are not diminished in any way, shape or form. We have set out a code of conduct to be followed so that victims are treated properly as they go through the justice system.
We are motivated today by the issue of victims being forgotten in this whole issue surrounding section 745.6. At the last federal-provincial-territorial meeting of justice ministers, the minister from Manitoba, the Honourable Rosemary Vodrey, urged the federal minister to develop a victims' bill of rights that could be applied nationally. If one has a victims' bill of rights as a guide, it makes much clearer what we have to determine as a result of the deliberations and debate over section 745.
I have not spoken of the costs of the hearings and the misallocation of scarce resources that they represent. The process has two hearings which involve Crown attorneys and judges. I would much prefer that our courts and the time of our judges and juries be used to move more quickly on cases awaiting trial in the province of Ontario.
I have not spoken about the increasing strain on our resources that these hearings represent. By the end of this century, we will have 189 convicted murderers eligible for section 745 hearings in Ontario. Under the present circumstances, I expect almost all of them to apply. After all, as I indicated earlier, they have nothing to lose. In fact, some of them will apply more than once. Hearings have been conducted for only three years in Ontario, and already one applicant has had two hearings. There will certainly be more in the future.
Ontarians are convinced that section 745.6 and the amendments are bad law. The question is, what should be done?
As I said earlier, Ontario's preference is to ask you to eliminate this section in its entirety. Certainly that is the action supported by a large majority of Canadians. It is what the people are asking you to do. However, I understand the political realities.
As an alternative, I ask you to adopt the proposal put forward by my colleague, the Attorney General of Manitoba, the Honourable Rosemary Vodrey, at the most recent federal-provincial-territorial Justice Ministers' conference. The effect of her proposal would be to make the Attorney General of Canada responsible for approving applications for section 745 hearings before they can proceed. The Attorney General of Canada would personally have to consent to and authorize an application before it could proceed. That should be the screening mechanism.
Community safety is the real issue, so it is entirely appropriate for the justice minister to make a decision regarding these applications. After all, these individuals are in federal institutions, and on their release they could go anywhere in Canada. There is ample precedent for such a procedure in Canadian law. The provincial Attorneys General must provide consent before a dangerous offender application can be brought in a provincial court.
The result of this proposal would be to reduce such a hearing from a universal right available to all convicted killers to a special privilege which would be used only in those causes where extraordinary circumstances exist. It would not remove any offender's right to apply, but it would eliminate automatic access to a public hearing. It would save the survivors of these crimes from the distress and repugnance that those hearings now cause.
I urge you to use that option, which I regard as reasonable given the political realities of the day. If the political realities in Ottawa are that section 745.6 in its proposed amended form be the law, I urge you, in the name of accountability and the protection of victims, to ask that the screening mechanism be that of the federal Minister of Justice consenting before an application can take place. That is where the real accountability lies.
I would ask you to listen now to two individuals who can speak personally to the difficulties the present law causes for the survivors of these horrible crimes. Both have lost loved ones to murderers, and both have suffered the pain of section 745 hearings.
Honourable senators, I thank you for your courtesy in listening to me so patiently today. I now introduce Ms Ann Gage, who has recently completed a section 745 hearing into early parole for the killer of her husband, a police officer, and Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt, whose son was murdered in 1981.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Minister.
Ms Ann Gage: Honourable senators, my name is Ann Gage. I have been asked to stand before the Senate hearing and tell you the impact that a section 745 judicial hearing has had on my life and the lives of my family.
Where do I begin? How can I create the words that will enable you to understand how unjust and emotionally destructive a section 745 judicial hearing is, destructive not only to the victims and their families but also to the families of the applicant as well?
My husband, Ron McKean, was a police sergeant with the Collingwood police force. While answering a call on October 12, 1977, he lost his life at the hand of a man named William Frederick, a man who, with his accomplice, was at large from a correctional institution at the time of the murder.
William Frederick pled guilty to first degree murder, and his sentence was life with a possibility of parole at year 25. After William Frederick was sentenced, we started to pick up the pieces and tried to go on with our lives. We felt that justice had served our family and Ron's memory. We felt some comfort in the fact that William Frederick would be sent to prison and serve his sentence and would never be able to put any family through such a horror again. How wrong I was.
After serving 12 years, William Frederick decided to test section 745. I opened my paper in 1989 only to see Ron and William Frederick's faces staring back at me. A section 745 hearing? I had no idea such a thing existed, let alone what it involved. Fortunately, William Frederick's application was denied. However, we started to educate ourselves on section 745. We knew he would apply again, and he did.
I went to all the preliminary hearings prior to the actual hearing. We listened to how much William Frederick had changed, how he had turned his life around, and how it was his right to have a section 745 hearing. What about our rights? What about Ron's rights?
Although I had been to all the preliminary hearings, they in no way prepared me for the horror that we would go through during the hearing. We were originally told the hearing would take four days. In actual fact it lasted three weeks. We had to listen to details of the night that Ron died. I had to sit and watch my children and family look on in horror as William Frederick told of shooting their father with a sawed-off shotgun, of looking into Ron's eyes and, knowing he was alive, choosing to flee.
We listened about his previous record, armed robberies, hostage-taking, prison escapes, and of his total disregard for authority. His callousness towards the murder was overwhelming.
I was shocked that our judicial system would ever allow this type of hearing. My children, now adults, had to relive the horror of that night. I had hoped their innocence as children had protected them. All that was shattered by the judicial section 745 hearing. They listened. They cried. They asked why and struggled to understand.
I am very proud of how my children held their composure and carried themselves with dignity during the proceedings. Not once did we wish William Frederick ill will. What we wanted was what we had believed in for 19 years. What we wanted was for William Frederick to serve his sentence for the murder of Ron. We asked no more and we asked no less.
I brought my children up to believe in our judicial system. William Frederick was given a sentence. His sentence was life with a possibility of parole at year 25. When he was sentenced, the judge did not say, "Ah, but, in year 15, you can apply for early parole." The judge said, "Life with a possibility of parole at year 25."
We listened to how much progress William Frederick had made, the courses he had taken, the education he had gained, and the remorse he felt for his crime. We are glad for William Frederick. We hope he continues along this path and, most of all, we hope he was sincere; but is that not what the prison system is supposed to accomplish? Is that not why we have a penal system? Is that not what society expects?
The three weeks at the section 745 hearing will never be forgotten. There was not one person in that courtroom who was unaffected, from the victim's family to even William Frederick's family. They, too, had come to the hearing hoping for an early release of their husband and son. You could not help but feel for these people as they, too, are victims of William Frederick's crime.
It was after almost two days of deliberation that the jury in our case decided against an early release. It was the longest time I had ever spent.
I have no idea what impact a different decision would have had on my family, but I can assure you it would have been devastating. We know that in another three years, William Frederick is eligible for day parole. In another six years, he is eligible for full parole. We know at that time we will have to accept the parole board's decision. We were not prepared for this nightmare to be replayed at 15 years.
Section 745 is unfair to all parties involved. It contradicts an imposed life sentence. It gives a false sense of justice to the victims' family and it revictimizes every one involved. It is the government's responsibility to the people of this country to abide by a sentence that is handed down by a judge. Life with no chance of parole for 25 years should mean just that. I wish no family the grief and horror of a section 745 judicial hearing.
Please support the repeal of section 745.6 of the Criminal Code.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt, Victims of Violence: Honourable senators, on August 12, 1981, a man stood before a judge in a courtroom in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the names of 11 innocent children were read out to this man including the name of our son Daryn. As the names were read, this man, Clifford Robert Olson, stated that he was guilty of the murder of each of these children.
In January of the following year, 1982, a judge in a courtroom in Vancouver, B.C., stated that this man, Clifford Robert Olson, would spend the next 25 years at least in prison. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole for a minimum of 25 years.
People told us at the time that this man would be put into prison, probably the Kingston penitentiary; that we would not hear from him again; that this would be the last we would ever hear of this man.
We did not know at the time that there was a section 745. We did not know how the prison system worked. We were new to Canada's justice system. Little did we did know that we were the ones who were getting the life sentence at the time and not Clifford Robert Olson.
What has actually transpired over the last 15 years is that, on a regular basis, Clifford Olson has been able to disrupt our lives, to cause untold pain and suffering for myself and my family. We believe that he has now applied for a review under section 745. Early next year, my wife, my children and I will have to travel out to Vancouver to attend and be a part of the section 745 hearing.
We had no idea that this was coming about at the time that Clifford Olson was sentenced to prison. We thought we would never hear of him again for a minimum of 25 years. This has caused untold pain and suffering for our family.
We just heard Ann Gage talk about the section 745 hearing which she attended that lasted three weeks. These people can apply and reapply every year or two following a section 745 hearing. After 15 years, we are now looking at travelling to British Columbia, attending a hearing that could last up to three weeks. This is the 1997 hearing. Are we in a couple of years going to be subjected again to the 1999 hearing and then the 2001 hearing? Will this go on for the rest of our lives? Must we deal with this?
A couple of years ago, we approached the Honourable Allan Rock, along with other victims groups across Canada, and asked for a repeal of section 745. Mr. Rock stated to the press at that time that he would not review the legislation, that he had no intention of changing the legislation.
Public opinion, as Mr. Harnick has pointed out, obviously has caused the minister to look at the section again. He has started to tinker with a few of the parts of section 745 that he believes may improve the section. He seems to believe, in all sincerity, that the provision calling for the application to go before a judge prior to the hearing taking place will actually reduce the number of hearings that end up in the courtroom. I do not believe that is true. As Mr. Harnick has pointed out, especially in the province of Ontario, we may have a situation where it will almost be a rubber stamp from the judge.
What frightens me so much is that, when these cases go before a judge, some of them receive a stamp of approval for a slim prospect of hope. Those cases then go before a jury. I do not know of too many jury members who will sit back and decide to turn down an application to which a judge has already given his sort of stamp of approval.
As a victim, I would like to see section 745 totally repealed. I speak on behalf of a very large victims' organization. We deal with hundreds of families of murder victims from coast to coast. The thing that bothers families of murder victims the most is section 745. Most families of murder victims do not learn about section 745 until 15 years after the conviction. They are simply horrified when they find out that what they heard in that courtroom is simply not true.
We are appealing to you to get back to truth in sentencing and to let victims of murderers live in peace. Let us put our son to rest. My wife and I have never been back to our son's grave. We cannot bring ourselves to go back as long as this man continues to inflict pain and suffering upon us from his prison cell. We know that he will continue to do this for the next decade.
We are asking this committee to tell Parliament that tinkering with section 745 through Bill C-45 is simply not acceptable. We ask that you reject this bill. If this bill is not rejected, we beg you to look at that section with regard to judges reviewing a particular case prior to its going to court.
As Mr. Harnick suggested, make the Minister of Justice of Canada the only person who can approve any application for a section 745 hearing.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Rosenfeldt.
Before I open the session to questions from senators, I want to tell the panel that it is not within the ability of this committee to repeal section 745.6 of the Criminal Code. We have been given Bill C-45. We can reject Bill C-45; we can amend Bill C-45; we can even make recommendations about section 745.6, but we cannot repeal section 745.6. I want that to be clear before we begin the deliberations. As much as possible, I would ask you to concentrate your questions on whether we should reject Bill C-45, amend Bill C-45, or pass it in its present form. Those are the options open to this committee.
Senator Beaudoin: Let me begin by saying that we listen very carefully to all witnesses who appear before us. If I follow your testimony, you are against Bill C-45 as it stands. Therefore, the question is whether we should amend it.
There is a proposition from the Attorney General that we give to judges the powers of the Minister of Justice of Canada. That is something which may be considered. It falls within the ambit of a possible amendment to Bill C-45. I will think carefully about that. I do not know what the final decision will be. We will have to think more deeply about it.
Some of the witnesses have gone so far as to say that we should get rid of section 745.6 entirely. I agree with what the chairman has said. We may comment on or make recommendations with respect to that section, but getting rid of it is not an option open to us.
Indirectly, you raised the issue of the Charter of Rights by referring to a victims' bill of rights. One thing we must to take into account is that, if it is true that section 745.6 goes against the principles of fundamental justice, how is it that there has never been a case before the courts of justice? As far as I know, there has never been a decision of the Supreme Court concluding that it is against section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; why is that so, and why is it that no Attorney General has raised that point? If an Attorney General is not satisfied with a disposition of the Criminal Code, he may challenge it in court right away.
I would like to know more about that. I have not taken a stand on this. My first reaction is that it is probably respectful of the Charter. That is not to say that that is the end of the debate, because, even if it is constitutional, legislation may always be improved.
Mr. Tilson: Any charter rights of an accused person should be dealt with at trial. If you interpreted my remarks to mean that I felt a convicted murderer has charter rights under section 745, you misunderstood my position.
Before a trial of these most serious matters, the police make an extensive investigation. Most trials of these matters take a very long time. Much evidence is adduced. Crown and defence counsel spend a great deal of time dealing with the evidence, most of which is gruesome. There are then deliberations by the jury and the judge. All these things take a great deal of time. It is almost flippant, in my view, to rehash the process that we have under section 745.
If you believe I am suggesting that a convicted murderer has some sort of charter rights under section 745, I should correct the record, because I never intended to say that. I am quite aware of what Madam Chair has said. You have limitations on what you can do. However, as a politician who represents part of the population of Ontario, I believe that I have the right to say to you that section 745 should not even exist. In my opinion, it is an outrage that section 745 even exists.
Senator Beaudoin: In other words, you believe that that section is bad legislation and we should get rid of it.
Mr. Tilson: I understand that you do not have the right to do that, but I have the right to state my opinion.
Senator Beaudoin: It is up to the Minister of Justice to introduce legislation on section 745.6, if he so desires. You consider that section 745.6 offends the principles of fundamental justice. The Attorney General says that we should keep section 745, but amend it.
Mr. Harnick: Senator, I am not here today to argue that section 745 offends the charter. I did not say that. Moreover, I do know the limitations this committee has on it.
One of the positive things we have suggested is to make the Attorney General of Canada responsible for consenting to these applications. I think the result of doing that would be obvious. It would make him accountable for something that most Canadians, including myself, believe he should be accountable for. In the event that some day we have a different Minister of Justice in a different government, perhaps that Minister of Justice will not want to be saddled with the burden of being accountable to the public. As a result, he or she may say, "This legislation should be repealed."
The government that is promoting this measure cannot say to someone else, "We will give it to a judge of a superior court. Now he or she can decide. We will wash our hands of it."
Something that is fundamental to whether this section should stand or not is whether the Minister of Justice of the day is prepared to stand behind this section. As long as the Minister of Justice is prepared to say, "Someone else can do it. We have now done our political work. Send it off to someone else now", I think, speaks volumes.
I could not agree with you more in the way you have assessed the argument that I have made. While I profoundly believe that the Minister of Justice should repeal this section, the political realities of the day say that he will not. He has moved these amendments. I have been there. I have sat in a similar hot seat in Ontario. He is not about to repeal this piece of legislation. That is the political reality of the day.
In the event that he is not prepared to do that -- and I wish he would -- I still think the proper way to deal with section 745 is for the Minister of Justice to have to stand behind it and consent to the applications going forward. Ultimately, we may see the bill repealed when a Minister of Justice who does not like that section comes along. It does not matter from which government he comes. We are not here to play political games. We are here because we believe that, if we have to have this law, then the people who are promoting it should be made accountable for it.
Senator Gigantès: When you say this is not political, it sounds as if you want a situation in which Allan Rock will become accountable for section 745. It seems that you hope that, eventually, there will be a Tory federal Attorney General who will abolish section 745 so as not to be hounded by Liberals as the Tories and Reform will hound Allan Rock. That is what it sounds like to me. You camouflage the partisanship very nicely, sir, and I compliment you for it. However, that is what we all do.
Mr. Harnick: It is obvious that Mr. Rock believes in this legislation. Mr. Rock is a friend of mine. I have the utmost respect for him and for his integrity. If he believes in this, I think the proper accountable way to deal with it is the same way I have to deal with dangerous offender applications. I am the one who has to review them. I am the one who must make the decision that the Ministry of Justice should be seeking an order that a person is a dangerous offender. I do that in my role as the Attorney General of Ontario.
I do not think this case is any different. It is not political. It has everything to do with community safety. If you believe that in certain instances there should be some amelioration of someone's sentence, then it should be the responsibility of the Minister of Justice to make that decision. If we want a section of the Criminal Code to do that, then I do not think it defies any logic to say that that decision has to be made by the Minister of Justice. I do it whenever dangerous offender applications are put before me. I do it on the basis of the facts of the given case, something which is well documented for me. I have considerations to make based on the representations that counsel make. Rather than send that off to a judge, because a judge ultimately hears the case, why should the person who is politically accountable for community safety across this country not have to make the decision?
Senator Gigantès: Did you say that the Attorney General should decide on whether a sentence should be ameliorated?
Mr. Harnick: That is not what I said. I said the Attorney General should consent to the application going forward if, in the opinion of the Attorney General, he thinks there is merit to the application proceeding. He has to sign a consent. The case then goes before a judge and jury and proceeds in the normal course. The application is initiated as a result of the consent of the Attorney General of Canada.
Senator Gigantès: I beg to differ with you, sir. You did use the word "ameliorated".
Mr. Harnick: I am sorry, senator. I did not mean it to sound that way.
Senator Gigantès: It sounded that way. Why should he determine the initial sentencing instead of a judge?
Mr. Harnick: I am not saying that, if that is how you interpreted what I said. I certainly did not say that in my remarks.
What I am saying is that, ultimately, a judge and a jury, under the existing section 745, would make that determination; but, before the process starts, the person who is accountable for screening the case should be the Attorney General of Canada, not a judge who has to make a determination on the basis of exactly what I said in my remarks, that is, "reasonable prospect of success". That is exactly what I said, senator.
Senator Gigantès: The reason we have judges, and the reason our judicial system has evolved as it has, is to take out of the hands of politicians the things you want to put back into the hands of the Attorney General. Why do we not go back to the time of Draco, from which the term Draconian comes, when a politician was deciding and the sentences were very much heavier? If we are thinking of the public, why don't we return to the stoning of adulterous wives?
The reason we have judges, historically, is that we hope judges are less pressured by public opinion than a politician who seeks re-election.
Mr. Harnick: Let us go back, senator, because I think what you are saying is extreme. It is wildly inaccurate, if I can put it that way. What you are not recognizing in your remarks, senator, is the fact that we are dealing with individuals who have been tried, convicted by a jury, sentenced by a judge and who are now asking for a special privilege. No one is saying that they have not had a right to a trial before a judge and a jury. All that has happened already. All we are saying is that, at the first instance, the Attorney General of Canada should consent to the application proceeding and then a judge and a jury can follow the procedure set out in section 745.
For you to characterize what I have said in the way you have is to totally ignore the presentations we have made, because we have been very clear.
Senator Gigantès: You do say, however, sir, and there is no way you can escape from that conclusion, that the review should pass through the hands of an elected politician before going to a judge and jury. I say to you, sir, that that is contrary to the philosophy of the law in democracies, which, as much as possible, have taken such decisions out of the hands of politicians.
Mr. Harnick: I guess we disagree on that point.
Senator Milne: In the interest of truth, and in relation to your appearing before a Senate committee, Ms Gage and Mr. Rosenfeldt, you must be aware that nothing that will happen with this law will be able to be applied retroactively; so nothing will change your own very unfortunate situations with the present law. I do not want you to go away thinking that that might happen as a result of your appearance today.
Mr. Rosenfeldt: We are quite familiar with that. The reason I do the work I do today, and I am sure the reason Ms Gage is here today, is that we have been through the horror of having to experience this. We do not want the next family of another murder victim having, 10 years from now, to go through what we are going through today. That is why we are here today.
Senator Milne: That brings me back to my main point, which is our alternatives on this particular bill before us. Setting aside the point of amending it, if we had the choice of passing it as it is, in an attempt to improve the situation somewhat, or not passing it but rejecting it, which would you prefer?
Ms Gage: I would prefer that it be passed. I would rather have something than absolutely nothing.
Mr. Rosenfeldt: I agree. I would rather see it passed. My major concern, though, goes back to the point that Mr. Harnick was making with regard to the review being conducted by judges. I do not wish to address Senator Gigantès' issue, but my concern with the area of judges reviewing something prior to its going before a court is that people forget. After 10 or 15 years, the community forgets. Even the media forget the names of offenders and the horrible crimes these people have committed. We see that within the Correctional Service of Canada today. Parole Board hearings are conducted in which the members of the board do not even know what sort of crimes the offenders have committed. The bottom line is that we would like to see the section amended so that it would go before the Minister of Justice of Canada, a person who is responsible to the public.
Mr. Harnick: One of the purposes of being here is to provide you with some alternatives. We are here to be constructive. Certainly, one of the things that I have said is how I think the review should be initiated. Another thing that I have said is that the screening standard that exists in this bill now is far too low and that I hope in your deliberations you will consider the issue of dealing with changing "reasonable prospect of success" to perhaps "reasonable likelihood of success."
Senator Gigantès, I have wracked my brain to come up with a better answer. Just last week or earlier this week, Minister Rock made a decision to initiate a process where someone who has been convicted and is now in a federal institution will have his case reviewed on the basis of new evidence coming forward. That is a decision that Mr. Rock made which was not screened by a judge. That is a decision that he initiated. By the same token, he can initiate very much what we are suggesting here and what I hope you will consider and review.
Senator Milne: Mr. Harnick, in the interests of being correct, for the record, I believe you said that 80 per cent of the present murderers who are serving sentences are granted parole under this section. For your own information, we have the October 28, 1996 statistics here. As of the end of October, there were 204 who were eligible, and 79 of those had applied. This is about 40 per cent rather than 80 per cent.
I would like your response to some of the testimony that we had yesterday from Professor Julian Roberts of the University of Ottawa. He said that the fact that juries reduce periods of ineligibility means that the people on those juries, who are supposed to represent their communities, agree with this mechanism; yet you are telling us that the people absolutely do not agree with the mechanism.
Mr. Harnick: I would be very suspect of that kind of characterization. I think you have to go back to what people have said this morning. They have said that we have trials, we have juries making determinations at the end of a trial, and we have judges sentencing people as a result of decisions made by juries. Now you are saying that, 10 or 15 years later, we will have another jury change the decision that the first jury made. That is what we are doing here. That is what section 745.6 does. They are changing the sentence that a judge passed as a result of hearing the evidence.
Senator Milne: They are not really changing the sentence.
Mr. Tilson: "Life imprisonment" does not mean life.
Mr. Harnick: They are commuting the sentence. The real issue, if you want to have the debate with the people, is to ask people whether they agree with section 745.6. Once you have section 745.6 and are empanelling a jury, some juries might say, "Well, this is the process." The one thing the professor did not ask them is whether they agree with section 745.6. That is the real issue.
Senator Pearson: I appreciate your coming here, particularly Ms Gage and Mr. Rosenfeldt. If you read the record of the testimony we have heard, other victims have appeared before us and other sides have been presented. One thing has come up in common.
Without wanting to add to your pain, it would help me if you could answer this question. Section 745.6 existed at the time of the conviction. Why did neither the judge nor your lawyers inform you of that?
Ms Gage: I do not think people really knew it existed. When I found out in 1989, we went to the police department where my husband had worked. They had no idea such a law existed.
Senator Pearson: The judge must have known.
Ms Gage: No one said anything. It was almost like it was slipped in there. In 1978, when Mr. Frederick went to trial, I was told he got life with a possibility of parole at year 25. I could live with that, but I have a very difficult time living with the fact that the only criterion he needs is having served 15 years. No other criteria are used to allow him to apply for this. That is wrong.
Senator Pearson: It would be interesting to find out why you were not informed.
Mr. Rosenfeldt: In the first place, we did not have lawyers. You have to remember that the offender is provided with a lawyer; the victims are not. In our particular case, John Hall was the prosecutor. He agreed to meet with the families of the victims for one afternoon a few months after the trial. That was it.
On the other side of the coin, we started an organization called Victims of Violence back in 1984. Throughout the last number of years, I have constantly met with families of murder victims from coast to coast. I have gone to their homes. I have sat down with them and asked if they knew that section 745 exists. None of them knew about it.
We have tried to convince people, like the news media, for the last 15 years to tell people that section 745 exists. When it is printed in the newspaper that the judge sentenced that person to 25 years in prison, and we see that all the time in the newspapers, people are convinced that it is 25 years. It is not 25 years. We have been saying that for quite a number of years.
Senator Pearson: Would it be useful, given our limitations here, if we made a recommendation that judges make it known?
Mr. Rosenfeldt: That is a great idea.
Senator Pearson: My second question is this: Is it necessary to go to the hearings? Does the family have to go?
Ms Gage: I just went through one. I feel it is very important. It makes the jury accountable to us when they see us there every day. If we are not there, to whom are they accountable?
Senator Pearson: My question is whether it is mandatory.
Ms Gage: You do not have to be there, but it is very important that you be there every day.
Mr. Rosenfeldt: You feel in your heart that you are representing your loved one when you attend, and there is no other way. I have to be in Vancouver this spring. If I have to walk to Vancouver to represent our child, I will be there. I do not have a choice in that.
Senator Nolin: As you know, Mr. Harnick, there is an administrative process by which the Attorneys General of all the provinces and the Attorney General of Canada, together with their officials, meet on a regular basis. They come up with a list of changes that they want made to the Criminal Code and to other legal acts. Have you ever made that suggestion around that table?
Mr. Harnick: Oh, yes. We have spoken at length about this. As I referred to in my remarks, the suggestion that I am offering to you today is one that I made at a federal-provincial-territorial meeting. We discussed it with the Minister of Justice before he announced his position on section 745. We urged him to consider that suggestion. Of course, we asked him to repeal it. He obviously was not inclined to do that, and I understand.
We also offered the suggestion made by the Minister of Justice for Manitoba, that the Minister of Justice of Canada be the person to consent to these applications. That was done and we urged him to do that.
Senator Nolin: You have the support of other provinces?
Mr. Harnick: Yes, we do.
Senator Di Nino: I am not a regular member of this committee. I appreciate the courtesy extended to me. I offer a special welcome to the gentleman who happens to be my member in the provincial legislature and well as a friend, the Attorney General.
I may say to the witnesses that, while you have heard around this table that our choices are limited, and they may well be, nevertheless, as one of the two houses of Parliament, we do have other rights. We could, if we felt strong enough about an issue, introduce legislation to deal with an amendment to the Criminal Code -- for example, to repeal section 745. Maybe that is something we should think about.
Minister, I have a slight problem in being entirely supportive of the position that you and the other witnesses have taken. I have a problem which I would like you to address, if you can. I have talked to a number of guards at correctional institutes. One of the arguments that they make is that some of these -- I do not think we should call them individuals -- some of these animals that we have in our institutions behave in a certain manner because of this "faint hope" clause. It is the guards' fear that, if that clause is taken away, some of them may not live long because of the reaction of the inmates. Could you address that matter for me?
Mr. Harnick:Actually, Mr. Tilson did address that in his remarks.
Senator Di Nino: I arrived a little late.
Mr. Harnick: He may want to comment on that. The aspect is the effect that section 745 has on people who are incarcerated.
Mr. Tilson: I gave two quotes. The John Howard Society has indicated that position in support of the "faint hope" clause. I responded to why that particular position simply remains unsubstantiated.
The fact of the matter is you have your trial. Your "day in court" is your day in court. You do not have two days in court, or two trials; you have one day in court. It is as simple as that.
Mr. Rosenfeldt and Ms Gage are two prime examples. Why should the offenders have two days in court? The fact of the matter is there are other victims in this society. Only two of them are with us today.
Senator Di Nino: Is it not also a failure of the correctional services to provide for the safety of the guards, if the guards are concerned about how they may be treated by these individuals?
Mr. Tilson: It may well be that the process involves continuous rehabilitation. Hopefully, that is what is going on in the incarceration process -- a process of rehabilitation. However, I am not so sure that rehabilitation should consist of the "faint hope" clause of reducing one's sentence from life to 15 years.
Mr. Harnick: If I may add to that, I do not know that that should be the purpose of the law, if indeed it is in this case. Colloquially, people say that, I know, but I do not think the purpose of the law should be to control the prison population. Is it really right that we have that law, or to justify it, as some people do, simply because, so long as we have that "faint hope" clause, guards can control prisoners in penal institutions? What does that say to the victims of these heinous crimes?
Mr. Rosenfeldt: It makes us ask who is running the prisons.
Senator Jessiman: My question was answered when Senator Pearson spoke, but much of this involves communication to the parties involved. We were told, and it was a surprise to me, that this legislation was brought in in 1976, when the death penalty was eliminated.
We were further told, which was also surprise to me, that, compared to all other countries in the world, the 25-year period would have been extreme. For most countries of the world, if it was not the death penalty, then life sentences had 15 years as a kind of norm. That was a surprise to me.
I am all for you. I would eliminate section 745 tomorrow, if I had the authority. If we understood, and if victims' families understood, right from the start that that was the best one could get, they could perhaps accept that. Then at least it would not be the kind of shock they have when they learn about it after 15 years. Then they are truly shocked. If they had known right from day one, I think they would be much better off.
Mr. Tilson: It is almost like coming through the back door. I challenge anyone to reduce the life sentence from 25 to 15 years.
The Chair: It is very clear: A sentence for life is a sentence for life. While you may become eligible for parole, if you get parole, you are put on parole for life and you can be put back into an institution at any time. A sentence for life, is still life.
Senator Jessiman: The victims may have known that after 25 years the offenders could apply for parole, but the victims were not told that after 15 years the offenders could apply to be heard in order to apply for parole. That is unfair and scandalous. I am a lawyer, although I do not practise criminal law, but I did not know that, since the abolition of capital punishment, inmates convicted of murder can apply for parole after 15 years, regardless of how many murders they have committed. Of course, they may not necessarily be released.
Mr. Tilson: I have been introducing these petitions into the Ontario legislature. Not one of the people who have given me these petitions to present in the legislature had known that this law existed.
Senator Jessiman: I did not know until yesterday.
Mr. Tilson: The average person in this country has no idea it exists, lawyers included.
Senator Lewis: Someone sentenced to life with no eligibility for parole for 25 years, could, under this bill, apply every two years to have that period of eligibility reduced. Would it be useful to amend the bill to limit the applications to one?
Mr. Rosenfeldt: Senator Lewis, we welcome anything that will take away from the continuous upheaval of our lives. As I said, our first hearing comes up in 1997. Will we, as parents of a murdered child, be subjected to four more hearings during the next 10 years? Following that, we will have to attend every Parole Board hearing, because he will be eligible for parole then.
It is a very good suggestion. Somewhere along the line someone must say that we will stop victimizing and revictimizing the victims. That is the problem.
Senator Lewis: Under the provisions of this bill, the judge who does the screening, or the jury, can say that a convicted person cannot apply any more. Perhaps it should be made law that they get only one chance.
Mr. Rosenfeldt: That is a very good idea. Ms Gage has been through two of those hearings. The second one lasted three weeks. Who pays for that? The provinces do not have the resources to pay the victims for appearing at these hearings for convicted murderers.
Senator Moore: Mr. Harnick, further to the question by Senator Nolin, you mentioned that you had a meeting with Mr. Rock and your counterparts from across the country and that Manitoba suggested that the Minister of Justice should be the one to make that decision. How much support was there for that?
Mr. Harnick: The support was not unanimous. Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, the Yukon and some of the maritime provinces expressed interest in it. I do not believe that Quebec was present. British Columbia was in the middle of an election campaign. I do not want to give the impression that there was unanimous support for it, but people were interested in the suggestion. It is hard to gauge support, because you do not have votes at these kinds of meetings, but we discussed the issues and put the positions forward to the minister.
Senator Moore: Do you know whether Manitoba intends to continue to push that option?
Mr. Harnick: Mrs. Vodrey is committed to that option, just as she was committed to studying a national bill of rights for victims.
The Chair: We appreciate the attendance of all witnesses this morning. We know that it is been very difficult for some of you and that, for others, it has taken time from other pressing business. However, I can tell you that our deliberations are ongoing. This is not an easy topic, as you are aware, and many of us are approaching it from broad perspectives.
The committee adjourned.