STANDING COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE
AND HUMAN RIGHTS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA JUSTICE
ET DES DROITS DE LA PERSONNE
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Thursday, March 11, 1999
The Chair (Mr. John Maloney (Erie—Lincoln, Lib.)):
On our schedule this morning we have four witnesses.
The first two will start now and the remaining two will
be at approximately 10.30 a.m.
I'd like to welcome this morning, from the Canadian
Association of Chiefs of Police, Chief John Lindsay;
and from the Canadian Police Association, Grant Obst.
Welcome back, gentlemen. Thank you very much.
We will have approximately 10 minutes for your
presentations. We'll go to questions and answers after
that. I realize that John Lindsay has an appointment
at 10.30 a.m., so we'll meet that deadline for you,
Chief Lindsay, would you like to proceed?
Chief John Lindsay (President, Canadian
Association of Chiefs of Police):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to begin my
presentation by thanking the members of this committee
for giving the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
the opportunity to express our views concerning Bill
When I say “our” views, I'd like to make it clear to the
committee that we, as members of CACP, Canada's chiefs of
police, consider ourselves to be deeply rooted in the
communities we serve. So when I come before you today,
I'm saying we believe we're speaking in concert with
and on behalf of the average Canadian, rather than
simply on behalf of a special interest group that's
composed of chiefs of police.
My comments with respect to Bill C-251 will not be
directed at the technical merits of the proposed
legislation. Instead, I would like to
focus my remarks on the underlying purpose of the
amendments that have been presented for consideration.
The mischief or the evil that's to be addressed by
this bill is, in the words of its sponsor, the volume
discount many offenders receive in relation to the
crimes they've committed. For example, a person who
commits a multiple murder is automatically eligible
for parole after 25 years.
I would submit this reality is not accepted by
Canadians as a just consequence for such horrific
The present state of the law disregards the torment
and loss experienced by each individual victim. When I
use the term “victim”, I include in that the loved
ones of those who have lost their lives because of the
criminal acts of other individuals. In our present
system of justice there continues to be a decided
imbalance between the interests of those convicted of
horrendous crimes and the victims of those crimes.
This proposed legislation seeks to acknowledge and
validate the pain and suffering of each individual
victim and to hold serious offenders truly accountable
for their actions. It is quite simply a matter of
The Criminal Code already provides that a fundamental
principle that must be considered in the sentencing
process is that a sentence must be proportionate to the
gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility
of the offender. That is section 718.1.
In our respectful submission, the inability to oppose
a consecutive sentence on an offender in relation to,
for example, a second murder committed by that
individual violates this fundamental sentencing
principle in that they do not experience any practical
consequences for the second murder. It cannot truly be
said that an individual who has been held responsible
for their actions, or who is being sought to be held
responsible for their actions, has any accountability
when there are no practical consequences flowing from
In making these comments, I don't want to leave the
committee with the impression that the Canadian
Association of Chiefs of Police believe harsh penalties
are the answer for all crimes. In this regard, the
CACP acknowledges that flexibility in sentencing is an
important and appropriate concept with respect to the
majority of crimes that are dealt with in the criminal
For the most part, the circumstances of each case must
be considered in determining the most appropriate
sentence. However, when dealing with the most serious
crimes, such as those set out in this bill,
the luxury of flexibility can no longer be afforded.
For such crimes, the issue of accountability of the
offender and the recognition of the price their victims
have been made to pay must be the paramount
considerations in sentencing, otherwise the credibility
of our system of justice is eroded in the eyes of the
Canadian public, and the pain and the suffering of
those victims of these serious crimes is made that
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
therefore supports this bill in principle. We would
strongly recommend the committee give favourable
consideration to the objectives that form the basis of
this proposed legislation.
With that, Mr. Chairman,
I'll conclude my comments.
The Chair: Thank you, Chief Lindsay.
Constable Grant Obst (President, Canadian Police
Association): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you very much for allowing the
Canadian Police Association the opportunity to make
their feelings and opinions heard with regard to this
For those of you who may not know who I am, my name is
Grant Obst. I'm the president of the Canadian Police
Association and I'm also a constable, a uniformed
patrol officer, with the Saskatoon Police Service in
The Canadian Police Association represents
approximately 35,000 front-line, rank-and-file police
personnel. As I'm sure you all know, we've been here a
number of times to express the front-line police
officers' position on amendments to the Criminal Code.
At the risk of my political future as the president of
the CPA, I would pretty much like to just say what he
said, but there is not a whole lot more the rank and
file would argue about with the Canadian Association of
Chiefs of Police on this particular bill.
As front-line police officers, we are in constant
contact with people who are unfortunate enough to
become victims of the criminal element. Quite often
that face-to-face contact with those unfortunate people
really brings home what serious criminal crime does to
an individual, a family, or a community. Of course,
this particular bill focuses on what we would call the
most reprehensible crimes against humanity that are
possible: murder and sexual assault.
We support the principle that people should be held
accountable for offences they commit, and we support
the principle that they should be held accountable for
each and every offence, especially with regard to
murder or sexual assault.
We don't think there should be any volume discounts
for anyone who is fortunate enough to commit several
offences prior to being apprehended.
going through my mind at this point is a serial killer
who would probably continue to take victims. The only
difference is the point at which the police are able to
step in and apprehend. As it stands right now, the
second, third, fourth, fifth and subsequent victims are
freebies as far as our sentencing process goes.
The philosophy or principle that you only have one
life and life means life doesn't really fly with the
rank-and-file police officers. Quite frankly, I don't
think it would fly with the general public if they
understood it or knew it was the principle that is
continually being put forward. I genuinely think most
people out there think murder in Canada carries a life
sentence, and that's what it means.
I don't think it's common knowledge that after 25
years you'll be considered for parole, or if the
judicial review at 15 years is put in place, it could
be earlier than 25 years. I don't think the general
public really knows that if you kill more than one
person, the second, third and subsequent victims are
freebies, so to speak.
We believe each victim is important. I can't imagine
being the parent of a murdered child—and now I have
Clifford Olson's face in my mind. I know we always
bring him up because he's probably the most glaring
example and one we're all familiar with. We constantly
work with mothers and fathers—parents of children who
were unfortunate enough to become victims of Clifford
Olson. I don't think the general public knows that the
second, third, fourth and up to eleventh child are
really just lumped into the first offence.
You have the brief from the Canadian Police
Association in front of you. I'm not going to read it
to you; I know you're all capable of reading. You
probably have a collection of briefs at home from the
Canadian Police Association. I would ask that you read
this one carefully before you add it to your
There are a couple of areas that front-line police
officers might suggest as amendments to this particular
bill. We're not certain that aggravated sexual
assault, sexual assault with a weapon, and sexual
assault causing bodily harm are addressed here. I
don't profess to be a lawyer, but if they're not
addressed here we think they should be, so we put that
Again, if you feel there are weaknesses in this bill,
we certainly hope you will make whatever changes you
feel are necessary—and hopefully not dilute the bill
to any degree—so it goes back to the House of Commons
and gets the attention it deserves from our MPs.
I'm sure you all know the Canadian Police Association
was in town over the last couple of days visiting MPs
with regard to specific issues in the forefront for the
police association agenda. This is one bill that was
unanimously supported by rank-and-file police officers
from across the country.
I will be happy to answer any questions I'm able to.
I should mention Mr. David Griffin couldn't be with us
this morning. I have with me the Canadian Police
Association executive vice-president, Mr. Joe Ross, in
Thank you very much.
The Chair: Welcome, Mr. Ross.
Mr. Joe Ross (Executive Vice-President/Secretary-Treasurer,
Canadian Police Association): Thank you.
The Chair: We will hear from Mr. Abbott for
seven minutes, please.
Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, Ref.): Thank
you to representatives of both organizations for making
the time to make a presentation here. Obviously you
consider this to be a very serious issue, as I believe
the majority of members of Parliament do.
I was interested in Chief Lindsay's comment—if I
wrote it down quickly enough and accurately
enough—that in his judgment there are no practical
consequences for a second murder. It is also
interesting that Mr. Obst made the same observation.
Presentations were made to us yesterday by the
departments that were somewhat critical of the fact
that the sponsor of this bill spoke of discounts for
multiple murders, which has a certain flourish to it.
That's fine; it's the kind of thing that attracts
attention to the fact that indeed in the case of
multiple murders, in the case of multiple serial sexual
offences, there are no consequences currently, in
practical terms, under current sentencing provisions.
It was pointed out by Mr. Daubney yesterday, who was
representing the justice department, that sections 272
and 273 were not covered by the bill. I think the
presentation by the CPA, which includes the proposed
amendment that would include sections 272 and 273, is
quite helpful, and I would hope this committee will
pay particular attention to that.
I'm working at a bit of an advantage to your
disadvantage, gentlemen, but I'm just going to pose a
couple of questions on the basis of some statistics
that were given to us yesterday.
Yesterday we had CSC, who gave us percentages of sex
offences, parole statistics, the grant rate, the
average percentage of sentence served before release,
and recidivism rates, and they were all in percentages
but didn't give us any concept of years. Do you think
that's particularly helpful? I'm wondering if you
would agree with me that by putting things into
percentages instead of years we don't get to the issue
of how many years is the public protected from these
most serious of violent offenders, that perhaps it
would be good for us to have it in years.
We also received statistics from CSC making
comparisons with other countries in terms of first-degree
murder, but they failed to give us statistics on multiple
offences—in other words, comparing country to country
on the basis of multiple offences. Would you agree
that we should probably have both of those statistics
as well—in other words, to give us just first-degree
murder statistics really was unhelpful?
Cst Grant Obst: It's somewhat coincidental that
you would bring up CSC this morning. We had a very
informative discussion with the commissioner yesterday
and had a number of questions for him, and he was very
forthcoming with the information we extracted from him.
I think, on any issue, the more information you get,
the more accurate the information, the better informed
you are and the better decision you could make. That,
to me, is a fundamental principle. I can't commit Mr. Ingstrup to
anything, but he certainly gave us everything we
wanted. I expect you probably asked him for what you
need as well.
Mr. Jim Abbott: It was unfortunate that in
the presentation yesterday the department chose to just
give us percentages instead of years.
What is the effect to the front-line police officer of
a situation where it almost seems like a revolving
door? I'm thinking now particularly for repeat,
multiple and, particularly, violent sexual
offenders. What does that mean in terms of the policing
efforts? Can you give us a description of that, because
I think all of us are concerned about the safety of
streets in Canada, particularly for the most
vulnerable? What does it mean when we see people
serving one-third to one-half of their term and then are
back out on the street?
Cst Grant Obst: Obviously the bill we're here on
is directed at very serious offences, but in general
terms, as a front-line police officer, what I hear
all the time, speaking with my colleagues.... When you're
dealing with the public—and we almost always deal with
the public who have been victimized by crime, and the
types of activities that you've
described, Mr. Abbott—it's like a lack of confidence
in the justice system. We're the front line for that
system and we come to tell you quite often what we
think is wrong with it. We're in the public forum as
a police association, in a lot of cases, attempting to
get certain things fixed and make improvements.
As a police officer, when I'm on the street it's my
job to defend the justice system, and I believe in the
justice system. I'm your front-line officer out there; I have
to believe in justice. It's what I do. It's what I'm
committed to. But what some of the things you've described
do is lend frustration; they lend that lack of
confidence on the public's part, which we try to offset
with a fuller explanation of what's going on.
But it's very hard to explain to anyone who's lost a
loved one to a murderer that life doesn't really mean
life. I know we're not here to talk about section
745, but you know where we stand on that. Fortunately,
I've never had to deal with a situation where multiple
murder is the issue, but I can only believe it would be
compounded a hundredfold if the victims.... And
although I've never been in a multiple murder situation,
I have spoken to Sharon and Gary Rosenfeldt, whose
son was a victim of Clifford Olson, and I've seen how
they react to—I can't remember the term you used, I
think “volume discounts”, which I believe we also had
in our brief—the fact that the subsequent murder has no
consequence, that it's a freebie.
Mr. Jim Abbott: What does it mean to your members?
How do your members react in terms of morale, of getting
out? They have the greatest intentions in the
world, and I'm not questioning that for a second, but
what does it do to morale?
Cst Grant Obst: It affects morale in a negative
way. Again, the police officers in this country I
believe are extremely professional and go about their
duties to the best of their ability with whatever tools
were granted, but in your heart and in your soul when
you're dealing with that kind of thing, it's pretty hard
to express a great deal of confidence. I am
confident that the men and women of law enforcement in
this country do the best they can do, but they also
send us here to try to make things better, and we
wouldn't be here if they didn't think there was a
Mr. Jim Abbott: In summary, then, you—
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Abbott, you'll have
to come back in round two.
Mr. Richard Marceau (Charlesbourg, BQ): Mr. Obst, Mr. Ross and
Mr. Lindsay, I'm pleased to see you here again today.
I tend to be very direct in what I think and what I say. I
have never hidden my opinions. I must admit that, at the outset, I
have not formed an opinion on Ms. Guarnieri's bill. I have not
decided whether to support it or oppose it, so I'm very interested
in the questions that I shall ask you and which, in my opinion,
must be asked.
Mr. Obst, what is the exact purpose of the bill, and does my
colleague's bill actually achieve this objective?
Cst Grant Obst: We believe, Monsieur Marceau, that
the bill makes an offender accountable for each and
every offence. Multiple murders or multiple sexual
assaults aren't lumped into a pile preventing victims
from the closure they deserve. In the case of murder,
it obviously would extend the period of time in jail,
but in the case of sexual assault what it would do
is cause a sentencing judge to really think about
how much time this individual is going to serve for
each and every sentence. If he wants to reduce the
time served for each offence, he can still do that, but
each and every offence is addressed rather than the
As for the purpose of this bill, there are
a number of principles here, but the
bottom line is that it holds the criminal responsible
for each and every offence. That's a principle the
rank-and-file police officers, and after hearing Chief
Lindsay I think the chiefs also, were pretty much
united in supporting.
Mr. Richard Marceau: So, you are satisfied with the bill as it
Cst Grant Obst: Except for the two areas I
mentioned. I'm not sure it addresses aggravated
sexual assault, or sexual assault with a weapon, or
sexual assault causing bodily harm, and I can tell you
the rank and file would like to see that in there.
Mr. Richard Marceau: I agree. We politicians, often hear when
we are in our ridings or when we travel across the country, that
Ottawa is far away and tends to interfere a little too much in the
lives of Canadians and Quebeckers.
Here is my point. At the present time, judges have a great
deal of discretionary power. In my opinion, judges are often in a
better position than we are here, in our own little bubble in
Ottawa, to understand and analyze specific cases. But by adopting
a bill like the one before us, with its blanket provisions, are we
not predetermining sentences here, in Ottawa, when they should be
decided by the judge in the location concerned, who heard the case
and is aware of all the consequences of the offence? Is it not
somewhat presumptuous of us here in Ottawa to tell the judges what
the sentence shall be?
Chief John Lindsay: If I might respond, Mr.
Marceau, I think Ottawa sometimes is a long way away,
but the point at issue is that justice is very local
and it's felt very acutely by people who pay attention
on a local level. I think that's a given. I think
it's also a given that judges deserve and must have the
ability to appropriately respond in terms of their
sentence, having heard the evidence. None of that's an
I think what is an issue is that we've seen a number
of things emerge in Canada over a number of years,
particularly as it relates to these most serious
offences for which life sentences are given. We know
that as a matter of fact life sentences are not served
in Canada. However, the legal fiction that's arisen
over the last 30 years, arising out of the first seminal
case in Sinclair out of the Ontario Court of Appeal,
created the fiction of course that you can't have
consecutive life sentences.
No one disputes that, because clearly you can't have
more than one life, but the issue that has arisen from
it is that with respect to the time that's ineligible
for parole it's been brought together, so that you have
multiple offences being dealt with as one.
saying is that the issue of justice and fairness
requires that these be viewed separately because they
are in fact separate offences. I think this
deals adequately with the justice issue in terms
of being local, and it preserves the ability of the
justice who hears the case to apply whatever sentence
is appropriate in the case that he or she hears. The
reality of parole is a major issue of concern, and I
think this bill reflects the fact that they ought to be
issues that are separate and apart and dealt
Mr. Richard Marceau: I have the bad habit, as some would say,
or the good habit, according to others, to do a little research
before I come to a committee. When I listen to you, I have the
feeling that your premise is that judges' discretionary power will
necessarily favour the accused. It seems to me that there is a
Supreme Court decision—that I will have to check—of 1995-96,
which states that a judge has the discretionary power to impose a
cumulative sentence of 25 years. Therefore, the court's
discretionary power does not favour the accused. I am asking you
this question, without any ulterior motive, because I would like to
know your opinion: Does the judges' discretionary power necessarily
favour the accused, or can it sometimes go against him, as occurred
in the Supreme Court's decision of 1996?
Cst Grant Obst: If I could answer the question,
Mr. Marceau, I'm not sure I caught the first part of
your question, but I'm under the impression that judges
don't have the power in the case of multiple murders to
order consecutive parole and eligibility periods.
Mr. Richard Marceau: According to the notes that I took a
while ago, he was a pedophile who had committed sexual assault and
had been found guilty on several charges, including sexual assault
with a weapon.
The 25-year cumulative prison sentence was challenged before
the Supreme Court. Counsel for the accused submitted that a 25-year
cumulative sentence could not be imposed on their client, since a
cumulative sentence could not exceed or be equal to a life
sentence. The Supreme Court said: I'm sorry, but these sorts of
assaults on children are so revolting and disgusting that
consecutive sentences adding up to 25 years are acceptable, even if
this is more than a life sentence.
Chief John Lindsay: Mr. Marceau, in response to
that, I'm not sure I'm aware of or agree with that
advice. Certainly my position would be that we need to
preserve the point and principle you're making, and that
we can do that best by amending the Criminal Code so
that in fact it's very clear that the justices who hear
cases have a discretionary authority to impose
consecutive parole ineligibility periods. I think that
would be the clearest expression of the creation of
that authority. I think that would be a very sound
exercise in public policy.
Mr. Richard Marceau: Each one of us, in our own way, is
involved in politics. In your work, the politics are a little bit
different; however, you are still involved in politics. Mr. Obst,
you are aware of my positions on a number of subjects since we have
already met. You told me that Clifford Olson's face appeared before
you when you spoke of this bill. I seem to recall an English
phrase—English is not my first language—that goes something like,
"hard cases make bad law". Doesn't using an example as horrible as
Clifford Olson's distort the debate somewhat? He is, after all, an
exception. At least I hope so.
Cst Grant Obst: He's not an exception when it
comes to talking about serial murderers. He's probably
the best-known serial murderer, and that's why I use
him. But there are a number of other cases in Canada
I could refer to, and I will do that in the future.
Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marceau.
should we go to the colleagues on my right and come
back to you?
Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC):
That's fine. Thank you.
The Chair: Mr. DeVillers.
Mr. Paul DeVillers (Simcoe North, Lib.): Thank
you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, gentlemen.
Chief Lindsay, you didn't have a written brief.
There's just the one brief from the
Canadian Police Association. Is that right?
Cst Grant Obst: That's correct.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: I was just looking at
the brief and the section where the myths and
realities are outlined. With regard to the myth that
life already means life, I have difficulty in
understanding your difficulty with that concept. When
a person is sentenced to life, that's the sentence.
The person is under the system for the remainder of
their natural life. So really the issue here is
incarceration. We're not talking
about sentencing; we're talking about whether that
person is under sentence in incarceration. Is that
Cst Grant Obst: I wouldn't argue with that, sir.
When you read the myth there, we talk
about the ineligibility period for parole, so
obviously it's geared at incarceration.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: So basically
we're talking about the parole system and whether or
should be parole in certain cases.
Is that your objection
with the system as it is?
Cst Grant Obst: I think that's part of it. But I
think the principle we've discussed at length here, the
fact that an individual be held accountable for each
and every offence, also has repercussions on the other
side for the victim who's involved, that the victim sees
the system address each and every victim. I think
that's an important component as well.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: But once a person is
in the system as being convicted of one of the crimes
that would caught by this bill or by other
sections of the Criminal Code, then that person is in
the system for the rest of their natural life. That's
not in dispute.
My concern is the effectiveness of our parole system,
and that's what I'd like to ask some questions about.
In your experience as a chief and front-line officer,
are you encountering difficulties with people who have
been through the system, have served their 25 years or
whatever incarceration, and are back on the street
under conditions of parole? Are you encountering
difficulties with those people?
Chief John Lindsay: I think it's fair to say that
every time you deal with an offender the second time,
you are dealing with a problem that might not
have occurred at all if that individual had been
incarcerated. That is not always an argument to say
that people should be locked up and the key thrown away.
But there are some practical issues that
arise. The first, of course, with regard to a
sentencing regime that does not allow for consecutive
sentences in the types of situations dealt with in
this bill, is that every time a new investigation for
the second or third or other offence is commenced, it
requires the expenditure of resources that, frankly,
are being used for a purpose that isn't always clear,
except to validate the rule of law. Of course, that is
one, if not the most obvious, role of the police, and I
think it's clearly a very responsible one.
But if I might, I think the scenario could be
exemplified by an analogy. If we
were to accept that there's individual responsibility
for crimes and that takes place for the first and
multiple offences, it ought to be evident practically
in the consequences. So, for example, if you were to
buy a property—and I'm using maybe a facetious
example—and take out a mortgage and then shortly
thereafter buy a second property, ordinarily you would
take out a second mortgage. The system we have with
regard to sentencing for these types of crimes, in the
example I've given, would only increase the length of
your mortgage, if you will, in terms of interest
payments, rather than creating a second mortgage.
We're saying that fair is fair, and these offences need
to be dealt with and sentenced separately.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: But the parole system does
take into account second offences for eligibility of
parole, etc. Those issues are taken into
account in the current system.
I know that one of your other myths is that the
National Parole Board is an independent
decision-maker dedicated to public safety. From my
perspective, I think your issue is that you don't
accept that the National Parole Board and the system
are functioning in a way—unless it's just the principle of
having additional parole ineligibility periods put on
for each conviction. If a person is in the system and
the system is functioning properly, the system takes
into account additional offences, etc. The number one
goal of the system is the protection of society. I know
Mr. Abbott was complaining about being given statistics
and percentages. I'm not sure what the point was
there. But there's not a lot of evidence that the
system is malfunctioning. I have difficulty
understanding where the need for this type of bill is
Given the amendments that have been made to section
745, the amendments that have recently been made
for long-term offenders, and the dangerous offender
provisions that are in the code, why is this bill
necessary, in spite of the provisions that are there to
deal with the Olson types, the Bernardo types, etc.?
Why is this type of legislation necessary, given those
provisions that are in the code now?
Chief John Lindsay: If I might respond, Mr.
Chairman, I think the adequacy of the
National Parole Board and its systems isn't the issue
I'd like to debate, frankly, with all due
There certainly are frustrations with respect to
parole. The point I'm supporting with
respect to this bill is that rather than treating a
second offence as a qualifier or as an aggravating
circumstance with respect to a first offence for that
matter, it ought to be dealt with for what it is, which
is a separate offence. That ought to be the approach.
With all due respect, it is the approach we're
supporting with respect to this bill.
Perhaps I might just leave my comments there.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: What about the last question,
though, about the provisions that are in the code now
for dangerous offenders, long-term offenders, and the
amendments to section 745? In light of those three
enactments—and I think you people were here giving
support on those, or most of those—why is this
legislation necessary, given those provisions of the
Chief John Lindsay: This particular bill
provides for very specific treatment concerning some of
the most serious offences that we deal with. In
relation to some of the other matters you've
brought up, one response I have is that as
good as some of the provisions might be, they have
created tremendous amounts of work for police agencies
with respect to serious and dangerous offenders. The
fact is that unlike several years ago, many police
agencies today require the sending of police
officers across the country to attend parole hearings
in order to make representations. It's a very
significant undertaking on behalf of the police.
Again, with all due respect, I might suggest that this
can be dealt with more effectively and more expediently
up front, by dealing with the issue as a separate issue
of sentencing when the evidence is heard in the first
The Chair: Mr. Peter MacKay, are you ready?
Mr. Peter MacKay: Thank you,
Mr. Chairman, and I apologize for arriving late.
Thank you for your presentation.
What I would
like to hear from you, or what I suggest we may hear
from you, in response to this question is that as
front-line police officers and those working in the
community...there is still a great deal of frustration
amongst the population at large. Sometimes perception
is not reality, but I get the distinct impression that
there is a strong impression out there that we're not
doing all we can as legislators to protect people.
It seems to me that when it comes to the issue of
murder, and to some extent even the high-end sexual
assault cases, in terms of the adequacy of the
sentencing provisions, we're talking about the most
blatant example of recognizing the sanctity of human
life through our sentencing provisions. As you've
said, if the impression in a sentence is that the
additional taking of a life is seen as only an
aggravating circumstance at a sentencing hearing, this
seems to be a blatant slap in the face from our justice
This particular proposed change to the Criminal Code
attaches a specific significance to every murder
that has occurred, and that is recognized in the
sentence itself that's handed down from the court.
Now, whether the judge decides to attach a sentence of
fourteen years to each murder, or ten or fifteen years,
or whatever the numeric value is in years, if it's
served consecutively, I would suggest that this would
give the victims the sense that the loss of their loved
one has at least been recognized by the court in some
small way. I'd be interested in your response to that.
Cst Grant Obst: Exactly. I think we alluded
to that earlier and in the presentation, Mr. MacKay, in
regard to the victims involved in these kinds of
things, and I think this may tie into the previous
question. The police in this country don't look at the
parole system as a bad thing. The parole system is a
necessary component in regard to integration or
reintegration of offenders. In many cases, that's a
very important and integral part of the justice system.
What you have to keep in mind with regard to this bill
is that we're focused on the most heinous and
reprehensible crimes that can be purported against
humankind. I think that's where the justice system
could go a long way in establishing itself in terms of
regaining the confidence that sometimes the blatant
slaps in the face create, or the lack of confidence
that they create.
We'd go a long way to regaining some of
that if we were to take these offences that are at the
top of the list and maybe remove the parole element to
a certain extent, treating them the way they should be
treated by providing each victim of each offence with
the closure that's needed to get on with life. In many
cases right now, that's not there.
Mr. Peter MacKay: But from your interpretation, is
it not fair to say parole is still going to apply to
the sentences? Obviously we're going to see an
increase in the number of years that would be served. I
don't know if you've had the benefit of seeing some of
the statistics that we were provided with yesterday by
the department, but there was reference to the fact
that there would essentially be a 5.4-year overall
increase in certain convictions in terms of actual time
served. There would be a reduction in the number of
people actually released. Isn't it fair to say that
the end result is that there is less opportunity for a
person who has killed or raped to be back on the street
sooner and to potentially perpetrate the same act?
Cst Grant Obst: And public safety is our
business, which is why we're here. What you say is
exactly the way it is.
Again, we don't think the answer in all cases is to
lock somebody up and throw away the key. But there
does come a time and an offence for which the pendulum
swings to the other side, so to speak. Locking those
people up, keeping them off the street and preventing
them from creating more criminal carnage, becomes the
more paramount concern of the police and, I think, of
the constituents that the ladies and gentlemen here
Mr. Peter MacKay: We have been provided with
significant numerical statistics. If the overall goal
is to in fact accomplish just that, in fairness these
statistics show that there has been a decline in
recidivism in certain instances. There is an
indication that perhaps change is afoot, but there's
always a lag time that follows legislative change. But
if we can make those numbers even smaller, and if we
can reduce recidivism and the release of prisoners....
If there's one person out on parole for murder who
commits murder again, if that can somehow be prevented,
isn't that ultimately what we should be trying to do?
Cst Grant Obst: We were here not long ago to
discuss impaired driving. Yes, we've seen a decrease
in the number of impaired drivers on our streets and
highways, but there is still one person every five
hours being killed by an impaired driver. I don't
suggest that we just leave what we have in place and
expect it to go away. You have to keep working, and
that's what we're here about. If we can make more
improvements, let's make them.
Mr. Peter MacKay: I assume you're speaking for a
large constituency when you appear here on behalf of
police officers across the country. You have no
difficulty saying that your general feeling is that
this legislated change would be embraced by your
Cst Grant Obst: Without a doubt.
Chief John Lindsay: On behalf of the chiefs
of police, I would concur with that, without a doubt.
Mr. Peter MacKay: And the chiefs of police and CPA
generally have worked very closely with the Department
of Justice on a number of initiatives.
Cst Grant Obst: We may not always agree, but on
this particular case, as I said earlier—you might
have missed it—Chief Lindsay made a presentation that
I would just like to put my initials on. I would say
thank you very much, because we're right together on
Mr. Peter MacKay: So there's no hesitation
whatsoever to embrace this change.
Cst Grant Obst: None.
Mr. Peter MacKay: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Abbott, for a three-minute round.
Mr. Jim Abbott: Thank you.
I think it's really interesting when the supporters of
Bill C-68 say that if only one victim is saved, it's
worth it. It's okay to spend $200 million, do whatever
we need to do, let's save a life, if even only one
victim is saved. Yet it seems that the same supporters
of Bill C-68 are now saying we have to watch out here.
That seems a little bit incongruous to me.
For the benefit of my Liberal colleague, the reason I
was speaking in statistics goes to a question to our
witnesses. I was somewhat critical of the fact that
the numbers were presented to us in isolation, in
statistics as opposed to years, and I ask for your
comment in return.
I'm postulating something here, I'm making something
up. We have a sexual predator who has unfortunately
created absolute havoc. At the end of the day, this
sexual predator has been convicted of four violent
sexual offences, so he gets five years, for the sake of
I take you to the CPA discussion, with which I concur
totally. It says:
Canadians are acutely aware that current sentencing and
parole practices are inconsistent with public
expectations, undermining public confidence in law
enforcement and, more particularly, our entire justice
system. Bill C-251 is an important first step to
restore public trust and to introduce the principle of
Truth in Sentencing.
I couldn't agree with you more. To answer the
question that was posed by my Liberal colleague, we
come back to this case in which this individual is now
convicted of four violent offences, but he receives
five years. People are assuming that they will be
protected, that society will be protected from this
individual for five years. They're rather outraged
that he got five years for each offence, but that they
will be served concurrently. But in actual fact, even
according to the percentage statistics that were
presented to us by the department—which were 45.83%,
48% and 48%, so we'll say 50%—that predator will be
back on the street in two and a half years. That's
according to the department's statistics themselves.
If we now take this individual and say there were a
lot more offences committed—instead of four, the
conviction rate got up to eight—I would suggest that
the judge, in all likelihood, would still apply the
five-year term, in which case it's a volume discount.
That is where the term “volume discount” comes from.
I know I've asked this before, but I'd like you to
just expand on it, if you will. This offender has been
convicted of four or has been convicted of eight
offences. The public is assuming that it is going to
be kept safe from this offender. What does it mean to
the morale of the people in your department? What does
it mean to your resources? Undoubtedly you've run into
this in actual fact. What does it mean to your
department when this predator ends up on the street
again within, according to department statistics, two
and a half years?
Cst Grant Obst: It undermines the efforts of
the police. It causes a great deal of frustration for
the police officer. The amount of money it costs to
reinvestigate, put the whole case back together, and
take this individual off the street again, only to see
him released as a result of the volume discounts,
becomes very expensive. I'm sure the chief would
concur with that.
It undermines what we do, what our life profession is.
That becomes pretty disheartening for a police officer
who dedicates 25 or 30 years of his or her life to
trying to keep the public safe and keep the streets
safe from these types of people, keep them from picking
up your son or daughter next. It's an undermining of
all our efforts, and that creates much dissension
within the ranks.
Mr. Jim Abbott: Chief Lindsay, I'd like to take
advantage of your Queen's Counsel designation if I may.
Take a look at Bill C-251. I'll read proposed
A sentence imposed on a person for an offence under
subsection (1) shall be served consecutively
And it goes on.
Is it your understanding that this particular
amendment proposed by Bill C-251 eliminates the
discretion of the judge? In other words, it eliminates
whether he or she may choose. In fact the judge has
no choice; if there are multiple offences, they shall
be served consecutively. Are you familiar enough with
section 271 of the code to be able to tell us if
that's the case?
May I ask this question? If it was altered to say
“may”, so that it then reads:
A sentence imposed on a person for an offence
under subsection (1) may be served consecutively
that would then leave the discretion to the judge as
to whether the sentences would be pronounced as being
concurrent or consecutive.
Chief John Lindsay: Thank you, Mr. Abbott. You
are correct, I am a QC. I do tell people, however,
that this is “quite a cop” as opposed to Queen's Counsel.
As for the use of the language that's contained in the bill—and
I did say I wasn't going to comment on the
technical components of it—the language is mandatory
language, so “shall”, of course, directs that there
shall be no exercise in
discretion, and “may” allows for that.
I might bring this back to the position of the CACP,
which is that we believe discretion ought not
to be there; with respect to consecutive offences
they should be sentenced and dealt with consecutively,
and that ought to be expressed as a matter of public
policy in the law as requiring a separate and
Mr. Jim Abbott: Okay, thank you.
Mr. Jacques Saada (Brossard—La Prairie, Lib.):
Thank you very much for your presentations.
More than the bill itself, I think the issue it's
trying to tackle is a very difficult issue because of the
emotions that it brings to the surface.
I will not get into the technical debate on the
contents. I think you will find no one around
this table, for that matter no one in all parties
representing the House, who is going to not agree with
you that the Olsons of this earth have to remain
locked in forever.
You said that you took the Olson case because it's the
most known. Of course you could have also talked
about Legere and Bernardo and a number of others.
I'm not talking about the emotional judgment but the
analytical judgment. Do you have the feeling that
what exists presently in the law is not sufficient for
the Olsons and Bernardos and the like to be locked in
Chief John Lindsay: You know, it might be easier
to comment on Olson, because there would be such an
outcry if he is ever to be released on parole. But that
is a reality the parole board will obviously
But the question of serial offences as it relates to
both murder and sexual assault is a much more common
occurrence, I say with regret, than we might like to
accept. As a matter of a systemic approach, it
would be far more advisable to deal with the issue
with certainty as set forth in this bill, I would
submit, than leaving that to a matter of discretion as
it relates to the compounding of the original offence.
Again, I return to the question of fairness in
sentencing, which is that these issues ought to be
addressed consecutively on a systemic basis so as to
ensure not only the best protection of the public but
at the same time proportionality in the sentencing.
Mr. Jacques Saada: My second question is going to
be very difficult to put, and I would hope not to be
misinterpreted in the question.
You have expressed the frustration that some victims
have when they see that the criminal has got a life
sentence for something else than the crime that
affected them and therefore they have the feeling that they have
nothing for them, that there is no recognition of their own
pain. Yesterday on a question relating to that I
understood that there might be—not that dramatic, but
there might be....
Let me rephrase that. If somebody is sentenced to life with the
understanding that life is life, and if it's not
completely life it could be made completely life,
in terms of the accessibility to parole and so on and the dangerous
offender sections, is it going to be less frustrating?
Honestly, I don't have the answer, because I'm lucky
enough to not be in the circles of victims. But I would like
to ask this question. I'm going to ask this question
of victims also.
Is it going to be less frustrating to
have only a part of this life in retribution for the
crime I'm suffering from, as opposed to making sure
the person who has committed this crime along with
other crimes is out forever? What gain would it give
me if I were in the victims' circle to know that I have
given to me part of the criminal's life, as opposed to
having collectively the feeling that this person is out
forever? Is it less frustrating or more frustrating
or does it not change anything?
Chief John Lindsay: We hear constantly of
the pain of victims, and that's part of a police
officer's world. One of the great pains they
express is that they need to be heard personally. In
that sense the crime they've been victimized
by needs to be dealt with as a unique event. The
position my association takes is that this bill,
with respect to the types of offences it deals
with, allows for victims to see that their situations
are heard and dealt with independently. In that
sense I think they would find a great deal of
consolation knowing they've been dealt with as a
unique victim and the offender has been sentenced
for that separately, as opposed to being, if you will,
an add-on to the first offence.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Saada.
Mr. Peter MacKay.
Mr. Peter MacKay: This is on that same point,
the flip side of that. Mr. Saada is asking, I believe,
what solace a victim gets from knowing that an offender
is doing time in relation to the victimization that has
been inflicted upon them or their family. What pain do
they get knowing that the justice system hasn't
recognized the crime that's been perpetrated, or that
the time that has been allotted—and this puts it
in very sterile terms, as the court and the justice
system always does. It talks about calibration of
sentence and it talks about calculation and concurrent
and consecutive. It does try, at least, to take the
human element out of it, which is impossible for the
What level of frustration is there, and I
guess as a further extension of that, what tendency
toward vigilantism is there, if a victim sees that the
court does not recognize or does not truly calculate
into the final mix, into the final disposition, a
recognition that there is time being served for what
has happened to them, when it's being served
consecutively? If two people are killed in close
proximity or simultaneously and a 25-year sentence or
less is to be served and it's being served
concurrently, what sense is there amongst victims that
they're not being truly recognized in the sentencing
process? You're more than familiar, I'm sure, with the
term “totality”, and this is the way it's justified
in the judiciary, that on balance, taking into
consideration the principle of totality, you can't go
beyond 25 years.
Chief John Lindsay: Mr. Chairman, to Mr. MacKay, I
can't obviously profess to be an expert or a
spokesperson for victims. However, what we do here in
the communities we serve is that the
administration of justice is to a certain extent
brought into disrepute and there's a lack of
confidence in the system when the current sentencing
processes are followed with respect to these most
serious of offences.
So maybe the best response I
can give to the question or the observation
is that an approach that conforms to Bill C-251 would
tend to restore that confidence that these most serious
of crimes are being dealt with separately and
independently. That would give the confidence that
people are being heard and that the response of the
system is unique with respect to each one of those
Mr. Peter MacKay: I have a very short follow-up
question. Cost has been brought into this. I think it
would be offensive to some victims
when you talk about the cost, but do you see there being
a preventive cost associated with this, as opposed to
the costs that would attach to keeping somebody in
Chief John Lindsay: One issue of resource that I
did mention was that certainly with respect to multiple
offences, typically every time a new offence occurs it
requires and obliges the police to allocate resources
to investigate that and bring it to a conclusion.
Clearly it's very difficult to count those things that
don't happen, but one has to presume that if an
offender who is serving consecutive periods of
incarceration is not available, those demands on police
resources will not be made.
But it's a secondary issue
to our obligation to enforce the rule of law. With all
due respect, I might suggest this is about an issue of
Mr. Peter MacKay: Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you.
Colleagues on my right, Mr.
Mr. John McKay (Scarborough East, Lib.): Thank
you. I apologize as well for not being here to hear
your presentation. We all seem to be caught between a
variety of committees and obligations.
I wanted to go to your conclusion, which is that
murderers and rapists should not be entitled to a
volume discount. That certainly has a certain element
of attractiveness to it. It's a statement that
resonates and seems to encapsulate your position rather
Yesterday we were given statistics by the
department that said in the case of sentencing repeat
offenders in the area of sexual assault, the median
custodial sentence is about 50% longer in
multiple-charge cases than in single-charge cases.
Also, on the murder side of the equation, paragraph 745(b)
says that in respect of a person who has been convicted of a
culpable homicide murder, the person is sentenced to
imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole
until that person has served 25 years of their sentence.
Both the statistics and the section of the act seem to
cut against the very essence of the notion, the essence
of this bill, that people are getting volume discounts
for murder and for sexual assault. I'm curious about
your response to (a) the section, and (b) the actual
statistical facts, that people aren't in fact getting
volume discounts, that it doesn't work this way.
Cst Grant Obst: I'm not quite sure if I understand
the question completely but—
Mr. John McKay: The median custodial sentence is
50% longer for mutliple-charge cases in sexual assault.
Cst Grant Obst: Right.
Mr. John McKay: So how is that a volume discount?
Cst Grant Obst: They may in fact, if the judge
sees there are multiple offences, increase the sentence
somewhat. But he doesn't address, in our estimation,
each and every offence. It certainly doesn't
prevent a judge from adjusting his sentencing on each
particular offence to encompass the totality of
sentencing, but he would have to justify why that
offence was only six months versus the five years that
it should have been.
Mr. John McKay: If you lock a judicial officer
into a position of consecutive sentencing.... Say there
are four incidents that would require two years, can
you imagine a situation where four incidents times two
years gets you eight, and that is grossly
disproportionate to the incidents? On a concurrent
sentencing regime, the four incidents may well get you
five, four, or something of that nature, which bears some
greater proportion to the sense of outrage on the part
of the community. Can you imagine a situation like
Cst Grant Obst: I'm trying to imagine it. Again,
I think the judge at sentencing, even if bound by this
bill, decides that x amount of months is the
appropriate sentence for this offence. He has the
ability to level that.
The Chair: This is the last question, Mr. McKay.
Mr. John McKay: Aren't you putting the judicial
officer in a particularly difficult situation?
What you're going
to end up doing is discounting the first offence down
to a lower number of years, and then because he's bound
by that you're going to add it up. So it's going to
end up in the same situation.
Cst Grant Obst: That comes right down to
the basic premise of truth in sentencing. We think
the truth has to come out in what each offence is
worth. All it does, in our estimation, is hold the
sentencing judge to a degree of accountability to
justify why that sentence is applied to that particular
offence. I guess it's for everyone to decide whether
it's appropriate or not.
Mr. John McKay: A judge does have to speak
publicly about why he sentenced this individual for
this length of time.
Cst Grant Obst: If you were to go
back to your constituency, you would find that most of
your constituents—at least in my area anyway—aren't
happy with a lot of the sentences.
Mr. John McKay: The first question I asked was how
The Chair: Mr. McKay, I think we'll have to cut
it off here, sir.
Do you want a quick response, Constable Obst?
Cst Grant Obst: No that's fine.
The Chair: We've come to the end of our time.
Mr. Jim Abbott: Mr. Chair, if you take a
look at your watch or the clock behind you, we
have about 10 minutes left.
The Chair: We have a logistical problem.
Chief Lindsay has to be at another meeting at 10.30
a.m., so that's why we're cutting it off short.
Mr. Jim Abbott: I just wanted to give the Liberals
the advantage of a little bit of a math lesson in
The Chair: Thank you very much for being with
us this morning.
Perhaps we could take a five-minute
break, and then we'll have Mr. Sullivan and Mr.
Rosenfeldt come forward.
The Chair: I'd like to welcome this morning Gary
Rosenfeldt, who is the executive director of the Victims of
Violence Centre for Missing Children; and Steve
Sullivan, who is the executive director of
the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime.
Welcome back, gentlemen. We will have a
presentation of roughly 10 minutes
for each of you and then we'll go to
questions and answers.
Mr. Steve Sullivan (Executive Director, Canadian
Resource Centre for Victims of Crime): Thank you, Mr.
Chairman. I will begin and then pass it on to my friend
I didn't prepare a brief today because I felt, just to
be blunt, that this was a fairly simple issue. There
are obviously technical considerations that you as a
committee will deal with, but as far as the principles
behind the bill are concerned, it's either one that you accept
or one that you don't.
I listened to the previous presentation and I
thought what I might do is address some of the
criticisms or concerns that members have with this bill.
I also have a copy of the brief presented by the
Department of Justice yesterday and I thought I would
also briefly address some of the concerns they raised.
One concern, and it actually is not all that far
off from one that I had as well, is that this bill may
go too far with the sexual assault provisions.
It relates to consecutive sentences for sexual assault
and any other sentence that's imposed. It could be a
conviction for anything.
Certainly the intent of our
organization, and I suspect it might be the intent of
the sponsor of the bill as well, is to
target repeat sex offenders. So you may want to
consider an amendment to this bill that makes it
consecutive sentences for sexual offences, not just any
other offence that's in place.
The other concern raised by the Department
of Justice was that this bill may not go far enough, and
the police association referred to this as well.
It does not refer to aggravated sexual assault and
sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm,
which are the two most serious types of sexual assault.
So we would also put forward for your consideration an
amendment to include those clauses in the bill.
We've heard a lot about judicial discretion and how
this bill might limit that. I would certainly argue
that it doesn't really limit that and I suspect we'll
get into that in more detail later.
I would refer you
to the fact that in Bill C-68, which was a bill we
supported because we thought if it cost $200 million to
save one life then that's a good thing,
you limited judicial discretion. You said that if
someone uses a firearm in the commission of an offence,
they get an automatic four-year sentence. That is
limiting judicial discretion. Arguments could be made
that in your upcoming youth justice act, in which you
expand the ages for those who are being transferred
automatically to adult court, you are limiting judicial
discretion. This committee has been asked to consider
the conditional sentencing provisions of the Criminal
Code because the minister is concerned with judicial
discretion and how those sentences are being used.
So when you talk about judicial discretion
it's important to remember that this government and
previous governments have been concerned about that.
Certainly Canadians are concerned about judicial
discretion. So I think that's important.
The point I
would make about this bill, though, is that there is nothing
in this bill that requires minimum mandatory sentences
for sexual assault. What it says is, if there are
repeat offences, a judge must consider each offence
when he is giving the sentence. It doesn't mean that
it's going to be a longer sentence. It might be, but
it doesn't mean it's going to be a longer sentence.
When it comes to first-degree murder, judges
currently have no discretion. They have to impose a
life sentence without parole for 25 years. They do
have discretion when it comes to second-degree murder
as far as the parole and the eligibility period are
concerned, but when we're talking about judicial
important to realize that we do place limits on that,
and justifiable limits as well.
When we're talking about clauses
relating to murder, this bill to me
is not about the adequacy of our
parole system. I think we have one of the best
parole systems in the world. I will look forward
to appearing before your
subcommittee in a couple of months
to help you improve that parole system.
It's not about how well our parole system works
because it doesn't talk about the
parole board. It simply sets parole dates. It talks
about when someone can apply for parole.
I think this bill is about principles and sentencing. I think
this bill is about recognizing that when you
have multiple murders there are multiple victims.
It's not about whether the parole board will consider an
additional murder as an aggravating factor or an
additional piece of information. It's more than that.
We're talking about a life. Simply
leaving it to the parole board for their consideration
doesn't reflect the seriousness of the type of offence
we're talking about.
I'm sure Mr. Rosenfeldt will talk
about that a little bit more in his presentation as to
what that means to him, certainly as a victim.
As for the other criticisms or concerns raised with
the bill, we've heard the phrase that life already means
life. A life sentence is a life sentence.
Someone's on parole for life. And there are mechanisms
right now to keep the Clifford Olsons in jail
forever. That's not debatable. I suspect he will be
kept there forever. What the system is not able to
do is recognize, for example, the fact that Mr.
Rosenfeldt's son was the third victim. In essence,
Daryn meant nothing as far as the sentence goes,
and our current system, while it could
keep him there forever, couldn't recognize any victim
after the first one.
Another criticism that's been raised is that this is
simply an American philosophy, that this is relying too
much on incarceration. I would point to a poll that Ms.
Guarnieri did, and I'm not sure if this committee has
a copy of that. It says that 90% of Canadians
support consecutive sentences for killers. I don't
think that holding an offender accountable for each
offence is an American philosophy. It's one
that Canadians support, and obviously from the poll,
it's one that we see they support wholeheartedly.
With reference to the
consecutive sentencing for sex offenders and how a
judge would deal with that in open court and how it
might put him or her under pressure to impose higher
sentences because they have to defend the sentence with
regard to each victim, I think that honesty in our
system is a good thing.
One of the complaints about
section 745, above and beyond that it exists, is
that when a judge sentences someone to life without
parole for 25 years, he or she is not required to say
that you can apply for judicial review after 15 years.
Mr. Rosenfeldt can attest to
this fact, that as a victim he felt he was lied to.
And certainly Canadians would feel they were lied to. So
truth in sentencing and openness and requiring judges
to explain their sentencing is not a bad
thing. We pay them a lot of money, and if they take
heat for that, this goes part and parcel with
There is a concern when people begin to lose faith in
our justice system. We've heard recently, and we hear a
lot, that the complaints for sexual assault, for
example, are down. There are probably a lot of reasons
for that. I think one of them, though, is that a lot of
victims, a lot of complainants are losing faith in our
system to deal with that and simply don't call the
That is a very serious thing. It's one thing that our
government and our police forces and everyone else
across the country have to be concerned with. We need
people to believe in our justice system. I think we
have a pretty good justice system, but we need to make
sure they understand that their crimes count and
that their crimes will matter.
We've heard reference to Olson—certainly I've made
reference to Clifford Olson—but I could give you a
dozen names of other multiple killers whose victims I
think would describe the same sentiments as Mr.
Rosenfeldt will explain to you later. It's not about
Clifford Olson, it's not about Paul Bernardo, it's
about the principles of recognizing each and every
victim and that they matter.
I think at this point I will simply turn it over the
Mr. Rosenfeldt. I look forward to any of your
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Sullivan.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt (Executive Director, Victims of
Violence Centre for Missing Children): Thank you very
much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, first of all I
would like to express my appreciation to Ms. Guarnieri
for presenting this bill before the House. And I
appreciate the time that's being taken today to discuss
this bill at the justice committee.
I appreciate the fact that a number of questions were
put to the members of the police departments, to the
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the
Canadian Police Association with regard to victims.
It's encouraging to see questions coming from members
of the justice committee with regard to the situation
of victims and their concern for victims. Believe
me, we appreciate that.
It's only in the last few years that we've had those
sorts of concerns expressed, I think, by so many
members of our elected representatives.
The last witness prior to us stated that he could not
speak on behalf of victims. He wasn't a victim and
obviously he was not capable of speaking on their
behalf, but he comes into contact with many victims. I
would suggest that he's probably quite capable, with
the nature of his work, of speaking on behalf of many
victims anyway in this country.
I won't sit here today and purport to speak on behalf
of all victims of crime in Canada, believe me. I come
in contact on a regular basis, and have since 1984
when we formed the organization Victims of Violence,
with literally hundreds of murder victims
across Canada over the years. I see them on a regular
basis. We talk to murder victims in the U.S. that we
deal with on a regular daily basis.
I came into this as a result, as Steve has mentioned,
of a victimization in our family. Our son, as
I'm sure you are aware, was one of 11 children abducted, raped,
and murdered by Clifford Robert Olson on April 21,
1981. I won't go into all the details of the trauma,
the pain, the suffering that our family has gone
through. I can simply tell you that it has been
immense over the years and it simply does not go away.
It hasn't gone away in 17 years and I doubt that it'll
go away until the day we die.
But one thing that adds to the trauma and adds to the
pain and suffering that we, as families, as Daryn's
family, have had to go through throughout these years,
is knowing that the man who perpetrated this crime
against him, the man who smashed his head in with a
hammer prior to having sex with him, will never serve
one day in prison as a result of what he did to our
son. The reality is that our son was number 3
on the list of 11.
Clifford Robert Olson was sentenced to life
imprisonment, and we were told at the time—and this is
the part we never, ever understood and still don't
understand today—that he only has one life to serve
and it would be preposterous to sentence a person to 11
life sentences in prison because he only has one life.
Well, I question whether life imprisonment in Canada
really means life. Every piece of material I've seen
coming out of Corrections Canada suggests that we have
to rehabilitate. The effort is toward the
rehabilitation of Clifford Robert Olson so that we can
put him back into the community.
I've heard the Minister of Justice of Canada, maybe not
the current one but the current Solicitor General of Canada
and prior solicitors general, continually say that the object
of our present system is to rehabilitate these
individuals so we're able to put them back into
The other statement that has been so
commonly heard from solicitors general throughout the
years we've been working with victims is
that nobody stays in prison for a lifetime,
that eventually they all get out. We've been told
that, and I have seen numerous reports on Olson, as a matter
of fact, where the reports are prepared for his eventual
release into the community.
So the point is that I do not believe, sitting here
today, that Clifford Robert Olson will die in prison; I
do not believe that. This is part of the difficulty of
trying to cope and deal with the murder of our son.
It's very difficult.
I listened to a tape last night with Donny
Edwards. I'm sure many of you are aware of who he is
and how his life was torn apart by the murder of his
parents a few years ago. The one thing he was
talking about was the difficulty of dealing with the
fact that here's an individual who murdered both his
parents and was convicted of attempted murder; we have
three very, very serious crimes that this individual was
convicted of, and in reality he's only going to be
serving one sentence.
I remember a few years ago in Winnipeg, to explain
what a charade this concurrent sentencing really is,
there was a case where a
person who murdered a woman in his apartment block was
being sentenced before the courts for that crime. He
apparently raised his hand and said, “Excuse me, your
honour, I have another murder I'd like to confess to”,
and he confessed to another murder that he committed a
few years prior to that because he wanted to get
concurrent sentencing for both the murders.
In other words, there is no penalty for that other
crime. They throw them in together, and it makes the
sentencing part of it for me, as a victim, and for the
many victims we deal with, a charade. It really
I remember another case back in Edmonton, that of Larry
Takahashi. I remember the headlines in the newspaper,
which said “Canada's worst rapist”. At the time of
sentencing I got to know quite a number of his victims
in the courthouse. We had a victim witness service in
the courts at the time. The one thing they simply
could not understand, so many of these women—he
was accused of raping over 100 women in the city of
Edmonton. They only carried through with a few of the
charges, the ones they felt they had the most
evidence on, the easiest ones to put through the
system, I guess, and they quit at that point. Many of the
victims came to me and said, “What is going on?
Was I raped or was I not raped?” And the answer
basically from the crown prosecutor at the time was,
“Well, what's the point? We could be here for months,
conviction, conviction, conviction. It's only one
sentence anyway; it all runs concurrently.”
As I was driving to work after the sentencing one
morning, I was listening to CHED radio. The
announcer said, “They didn't only throw the book
at Larry Takahashi today, they threw the whole library
at him. They gave him like a total of three life
sentences, a total of 86 years”, or something like
that, and it went on and on and on. And what the
announcer said is, “That man will never, ever be
released from prison, obviously.” Well, it's not so
Six years later, if many remember—it's just a few
years ago—prior to Larry Takahashi's release into the
community, he was a registered member of the Hope
Golf & Country Club, and the media found out about
it. They went there and they took pictures of him out on
the golf course. Six years, with three life sentences,
and umpteen number of years to be served in prison:
I ask you, from a victim's point of view, on behalf of
the victims I have to deal with on a regular daily
basis, does that sound like justice to you? It sure as
hell doesn't to me.
We have in the audience here a woman whose
family has been totally destroyed, torn asunder by the
abduction, the torture and murder of her grandson.
She sat through two years in a courtroom
here in Ottawa listening to evidence being presented.
When it's all said and done....
I would just like to
take about two minutes of your time here. Just imagine
yourself in that courtroom when the judge begins to
hand down the sentence. I'll just read you a brief
excerpt from the judge's sentence:
Mr. Edwards, in addition to life
imprisonment on count one, for kidnapping Sylvain Leduc
I sentence you to 12 years imprisonment concurrent.
I stay the finding of guilty in count three for
confining because it's subsumed in the kidnapping.
I convict you for aggravated sexual assault against
Natalie Brindamour and because of the particularly
brutal savagery of that offence I impose a sentence of
15 years concurrent to the life imprisonment and to the
For kidnapping Natalie Brindamour you
are convicted and sentenced concurrently to 12 years.
For assault causing bodily harm
for your complicity in that as against Daniel
Chartrand I convict you and sentence you to five years
For kidnapping Daniel Chartrand you are
also convicted and sentenced to 12 years concurrent.
Count nine for confinement is stayed.
Melanie Rainville, count ten, you are convicted and
sentenced to 12 years concurrent.
For your use of a firearm, a twelve gauge shotgun,
sawed-off, which has no place in civilized society, a
crime which should draw particular extra deterrent
punishment in my view, you are convicted and sentenced
to five years concurrent to the life imprisonment
sentence, but consecutive to all other sentences.
Count thirteen 13 is stayed...
It goes on and on and on.
You talked about insanity in sentencing. That really
comes down to the fact that he got a life sentence, but 15
years from now he'll be eligible for a judicial review
of his sentence. All the other sentences will have
been served. If he can convince a judge and a jury he
is reformed, he'll be back on the streets. Two of the
young offenders who were sentenced in that case are
already back on the streets. This is the insanity
victims have to deal with on a regular daily basis in
The pain simply does not go away. Punishing the
offender is not really what victims are looking for.
They're looking for some recognition for the harm that
was done to them and their families. Adding sentence
after sentence and running them all concurrently simply
means nothing for the victims. Forget about it.
There's no point in running through all these. Simply
give the person a life sentence because that's really
all it is.
On the other hand, when you have consecutive
sentencing, it takes into account.... Of course we're
told it's ludicrous to give an 86-year sentence. Well,
I beg to question that. If a person deserves 86 years
in prison, maybe he should get 86 years in prison.
That's the way it should be. When he reaches that 86th
year, when it's all said and done, if he's released
from prison that's fine too.
That may sound ludicrous, but on what do we base our
justice system? Do we look at an individual and say
we can allow 75-year-old people out there to commit
murder because they'll never live long enough to spend
25 years in prison, so we can only give them one year
because the average life expectancy in Canada is 76
The whole thing is ludicrous.
But I say it is
not ludicrous to sentence a person for the crime they
committed. If I leave here today, start driving to
Toronto, and get stopped for speeding, to me it's very
simple: I'm given a ticket. That doesn't mean the rest
of the tickets I get all the way to Toronto are
freebies because I can combine them when I get to
Toronto, walk up to the judge and say “Here, I got 15
today. It was a bad day; I got stopped 14 more times.
But concurrently I'd like you to wrap them all together
and I'll give you one hundred bucks.” It doesn't work
that way, and it shouldn't with violent crime—the most
heinous of crimes, violent crime.
Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Rosenfeldt.
Mr. Abbott, for seven minutes.
Mr. Jim Abbott: Thank you.
Both of you have
stated your cases very eloquently, particularly in
talking about deterrence and retribution.
I was interested, Mr. Sullivan, in the extra element
of Bill C-68 you brought in, the removal of discretion,
which some of my colleagues on the other side of the room
seem to have some difficulty with. It was done under
Bill C-68, but they're having difficulty with it in
Because you have so eloquently stated the case
vis-à-vis retribution, I would like to get into the
issue of safety, and particularly the fear of victims,
rather than continue to canvass retribution.
At 6 feet, 5 inches, and 200 and some pounds, being a male, I can
walk virtually anywhere in this country without fear.
It seems to me this bill is about the protection of the
most vulnerable in society. As a person of that size
and gender, it bothers me so very much that I can do
that, yet my wife and other people in our society
On the issue of safety, if we take the case of this
mythical sexual predator I raised in the last
session—I think both of you were here when I did—the
person gets five years for four convictions. In fact
the person had committed twenty, but they managed to
convict on four and he gets five years. According to
the statistics, he will be on the street within two and
half years for four convictions.
Let's assume we
managed to get eight convictions and he got five years.
The difference is that he'll be on the street in two
and a half years for eight convictions. Isn't that
really what we're saying here in terms of the volume
discount—the analogy that you used about the tickets?
What about the issues of safety and fear? Could both
of you perhaps address those additional elements?
You've done it so eloquently with respect to justice
and retribution, but could you also address those
issues with respect to people in society, particularly
victims of these crimes?
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: Many victims of crime who I
have come to know over the years live in constant fear
for their lives. I talk to people regularly all across
Canada. I have a very good friend in Lloydminster. Her
mother and her aunt—sisters—were murdered by an
individual. He's in the process of getting temporary
absences now from Matsqui prison. She is actually
going into hiding. The sister of Donny Edwards—I
mentioned him—has gone into hiding.
It is not unusual in Canada that people have to live
this way. It's frustrating. I think the most
difficult part for victims to really understand,
though, is that throughout the process there are so
many changes to the sentence—like concurrent,
consecutive or whatever—and they're totally confused.
You have to remember most victims don't really
understand the justice system when they are thrown into
We publish little booklets to try to explain it. The
National Parole Board has published a little booklet in
the last year trying to explain it. But when I read it
and break it down, you have to be a mathematician,
honestly, to figure it out. It's very difficult.
So victims are normally asking for some truth in
sentencing, so they can go to bed at night and be
relatively certain the offender, who promised to get out
of prison some day and kill them.... We've had the
odd murderer escape too, like Kinsella a few
years ago, which caused panic in the community. He
even made threats against John Nunziata and one of his
victims, but they weren't carried out. But victims
would like some truth in sentencing.
Then, if it's not too much effort, you should get
victims' input at the time of parole or early release.
It's important to victims that they have some say. I
can remember very clearly a case where a convicted
murderer was being released into an Ontario community.
After a few phone calls from the victim, I talked to
the National Parole Board. They weren't aware that the
victim's family lived in that town. They weren't aware
of all the circumstances and the fear the family lived
with. On a Sunday afternoon we were actually able to work
out a deal with the National Parole Board where that
city was put off limits, but he was still allowed
parole in Toronto.
Things like that can be done if there is enough
knowledge and information throughout the system.
Believe me, we've come a long way, Mr. Abbott, in the
last number of years in that regard.
But on the actual sentence and fear, when you're
talking about the number of years served, most
individuals, as the National Parole Board and
Correctional Services of Canada regularly state, will
be released some day.
I guess from a victim's point of view, if you feel the
offender actually did time in prison for the crime
against you, you may feel there was some sort of
retribution by society, that society and the justice
system helped to make things right. You might have
less fear if there were an actual punishment for the
crime against you.
But you lose all faith in the justice system when you
know that if you are the fourth rape victim, there will be
no real sentence for the crime against you. The
justice system tells you they're going to let him out,
“But don't worry, things will be all right. He won't
bother you again. Those threats he made against you
were idle threats. His case worker says he's reformed.
He doesn't rape people any more and he doesn't harm
Those are hollow words to you as a victim when
there's been no sentence served, no punishment for the
crime against you as an individual.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I guess there's not much to
add to that. I would say your imaginary sexual
predator probably has another 100 offences he's never
even been investigated for because those victims didn't
come forward. Those victims who watched how the system
worked for those who went to the justice system, I
think you will agree, would probably say “It's a good
thing I didn't bother going because it wouldn't have
When we get situations like that, the level of fear
goes up because people don't believe in the system.
They're not going to report crimes. Those crimes will
go unsolved and those predators will be on the street
Mr. Jim Abbott: Thank you, Mr. Maloney.
The Chair: Mr. Marceau, are you ready?
Mr. Richard Marceau: Yes.
Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Rosenfeldt, excuse me for having missed
most of your presentation. I had to go to the House to table a
document. Mr. Sullivan, you and I have already spoken, and, Mr.
Rosenfeldt, I would appreciate receiving a copy of your speaking
notes, if you have not tabled a brief.
Mr. Sullivan, you were here a while ago, and Mr. Rosenfeldt
was not, when I said that I was trying to decide whether I should
support or oppose this bill. During the time that I have been
listening to you, Mr. Rosenfeldt, it seems to me that you are
somewhat mixing up—and I may be wrong, and you can tell me so—all
sorts of things. You said the victims would like to be informed
when someone is released, etc.. Are these concerns not rather
related to the discussions that the justice committee had on
victims' rights? You were there at the round table, last summer,
here in Ottawa. Are you not confusing consecutive sentences and
victims' rights, somewhat?
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: I didn't mean to do that, Mr.
What I'm talking about is victims' rights. The
question was put to me about the safety of victims and
their concerns with regard to safety, and I was
responding to that.
In essence, we are saying that if victims are accorded
certain rights, there may be less concern with regard
to their personal safety when a person is released.
That question was put to me after my presentation.
Mr. Richard Marceau: I had the opportunity to go to British
Columbia and Alberta last week in the context of a review of the
Corrections and Conditional Release Act by a subcommittee of the
justice committee. I was not an expert in the field before going,
and I still am not.
However, we dealt with the following question, and I would
like to hear your opinion on this. Is it not better for victims
that an offender who has spent some time behind bars be
rehabilitated—even though that word has been cheapened, and go
through the entire process? He is incarcerated in a maximum
security institution, goes to a lower level, works in the community
under the supervision of a parole officer and has the possibility
of becoming a good citizen. From the point of view of the victims,
isn't it preferable for an offender to go this route rather than
spending years and years in prison, without any incentive to strive
to improve himself because he tells himself that, in any case, he
will never get out or he will be too old then? Someone who spends
many years in prison becomes embittered and hard, and when he gets
out, he will tell himself that society has never given him anything
and he will start doing what he did before.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: Even if you were to extend the
parole ineligibility periods, I would argue that our
current system does encourage people to change.
First of all, it's a personal decision. Whether
you're serving 5 years, 20 years, or 100 years, if you
want to change your behaviour or your attitude, you're
going to do that. We can offer you the programs and
the help, but you make that decision.
The other thing is that I think our system does encourage
that. You mentioned cascading down to minimum- and
medium-security prisons. You can go on work release
programs whether or not you're a lifer. You can apply
for escorted temporary absence passes as soon as you
walk into a prison. You can take treatment programs.
You can take education. There are things in our system
that encourage people to change and make themselves
better, and I think that if someone really wants to do
that, regardless of their sentence, they'll do
Mr. Richard Marceau: Human psychology being what it is, most
people will tell themselves that they want to improve because they
want to gain greater freedom by going through the steps from
maximum to medium and minimum security and then to conditional
release. People tell themselves that this is the normal path. They
tell themselves that if I am a good boy or a good girl and make an
honest effort to improve, I will be able to get out sooner. That's
the carrot. If we eliminate the carrot, even if someone wants to
change he will say to himself: Even if I improve, will that help me
to get out sooner?
Secondly, we have seen some of those prisons, and we know that
there are areas, particularly in maximum security, where the
atmosphere provides absolutely no incentive to change. if you try
to get better, or if you are perceived as being weak... I won't use
the words that we heard. It's always a matter of attitude in
prison; the guys support each other in that, they have to behave
like that and they have to protect their turf. We saw a difference
not only in attitudes, but also in physical appearance. I believe
that my colleagues Mr. Grose and Mr. DeVillers will agree with me
that the physical attitude of the people in maximum security is
quite different from that of those in minimum. The people in
minimum security, in some cases, have turned their lives around. I
am not saying that the system is perfect, but some people have
So, I'll get back to my question. What happens if we eliminate
the carrot that gives them hope of getting out sooner, and they
know that they are going to be in prison for a long time? Would
removing this big carrot not destroy the balance that exists in the
system at the present time?
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I guess it's the size of the
carrot, really. For someone who's locked up for 50
years, for example—and that's when they can start
applying for parole—the incentive might be getting
themselves down to a minimum-security prison where they
can go to work every day and live a semi-ordinary life.
There's no question that maximum-security prisons are
not a very good place to change someone's
behaviour. I've been to some as
well, and they're not nice places.
The incentive, I think, would be to cascade yourself
down and learn a trade and go out in the community and
So I think there are
incentives. Obviously it's not as big as freedom, but
I think the incentives are there, and we can maybe build them
even greater into our system.
Mr. Richard Marceau: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Marceau.
We'll now turn to the government side, Mr. Grose.
Mr. Ivan Grose (Oshawa, Lib.): Thank you, Mr.
I'd like to take a little different tack here. I've
had a theory for quite some time that we're having a
problem with this bill because of something we fail to
do. I think the person who murders or rapes serially
or repeatedly simply because they enjoy either
murdering or raping is a very sick person, and I
believe they should be taken out of the mainstream. I
think they should be confined under the mental health
act rather than the Criminal Code. We do that now with
some people at the pleasure of the lieutenant-governor,
and they stay there forever in most cases.
But for some reason, unless a person exhibits
irrational behaviour in a court room, we don't treat
them under this procedure.
If we were to do that, if we were to separate these
people out—and, incidentally, Mr. Rosenfeldt, under my
rule your perpetrator would be separated out—that
leaves you with the people who have murdered probably
through greed or desperation, even multiply. Maybe
they were robbing a bank and killed someone and in
a pursuit weeks later also killed someone. This is a
person who is simply greedy and got caught in this
situation. I think this is a person who could
possibly—note possibly—be reformed. Not everyone can
be reformed. Some people have to stay in prison
forever, even the ones who commit my type of crime,
which would not be treated under the mental health act.
But I think if we separated these people out, we'd have
far fewer difficulties even with this bill.
It's not something we're going to solve here today.
But I don't get to talk to you every day, and I'd like
the reaction of both of you gentlemen.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: It's a very difficult
situation, Mr. Grose, because I do know, as you well
know, that a large number of inmates in our federal
institutions are mentally ill.
Mr. Ivan Grose: Exactly.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: There's no question about
that. We agree with you wholeheartedly. I have been
inside those prisons, not as an inmate but as a
visitor, and it's really sad in a sense that we are
locking up mentally ill people. I agree with you
The difficulty, though, is that there's a very major
effort, supposedly on behalf of the mentally ill,
from another group of people who are fighting to get
them out of the mental hospitals too. So you get it
What I find tragic today is that when I drive around
the streets of Ottawa or Toronto I see mentally ill
people on our streets, and I say to myself—and this is
a bit off the subject—what are we really doing here?
If a person is physically ill we treat them in this
country, but if they're mentally ill we allow them to
freeze to death on our streets. I agree with you
wholeheartedly on that.
But the difficulty lies, for instance, with the Joseph
Fredericks. There was a person who had been in
and out of the system for God knows how many years—and
again, you're talking about provincial legislation with
regard to the mentally ill—and we don't have the
legislation on a provincial basis that can keep a
number of these people within the institution. Joseph
Fredericks was released to Operation Springboard in
Toronto. He walked away and abducted, raped, and murdered
young Christopher Stephenson.
The sad part is that nobody wins in a
situation like that. He was treated by the
mental health act prior to this, but now we get angry
with him and we convict him of first-degree murder, we
send him off to Kingston Penitentiary, where he's
released at his request into the general population,
and we allow people to kill him out in the yard. Now,
you tell me who the hell won out of all that. Nobody
won, especially the Stephenson family. I'm not here for
the benefit of offenders, but Joseph Fredericks didn't
win either. He's a mentally ill person whom we allowed
in the end to be murdered in a prison system.
So your point is well taken.
The difficult part, though, is that this
falls under provincial legislation.
government is not in a position to impose the rules and
regulations on a provincial basis, so we're going to
continue doing this until such a time as the provinces
come together and enact a standard for treating the
mentally ill in this country.
Mr. Ivan Grose: Mr. Sullivan, do you have any
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I agree with Mr. Rosenfeldt.
I don't object to your premise. It's a major shift, as
you recognize, in the philosophy. The practical
problem with people like Fredericks—and maybe we could
discuss this in more detail at a different time—is
that we don't yet know how to treat them. So whether
you put him in a prison or a mental hospital, we're
just not there yet. I think Canada leads the way in
research into those types of things, and our parole and
correction systems do a good job. There are some people
we don't know yet how to treat. So that's another
But certainly regarding the premise that we have people in our
system who are mentally ill, you can't debate that.
Mr. Ivan Grose: I have just one comment, and then
I'm finished. I'm afraid I won't lean on the issue of
it being a provincial responsibility. We're supposed to be
able to work that kind of thing out—I'm talking about
parliamentarians—so I don't lean on that. I realize
the difficulties, but we should do something about it.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: I agree with you.
Mr. Ivan Grose: Thank you very much. Thank you,
The Chair: Mr. Peter MacKay.
Mr. Peter MacKay: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I
thank the witnesses.
This subject area, I'm sure, has been covered, but I
hearken back to comments we've heard in relation to
this legislation about a clear recognition in
sentencing when it comes to murder and rape and the
need for victims to have it tangibly
recognized in the calculation of the sentence.
I know that both of you have worked extensively with
victims, particularly you, Mr. Rosenfeldt, and
what you've been through, you and your family. That
leads to the intangible feeling of frustration or lack
of confidence on the part of those who have been
through it when there isn't a clear indication in the
calculation of a sentence for a murder, and the
sentence is running simultaneously. I've seen judges
try to do that within the existing sentencing
parameters, where they try to allot what then appears
to be very insignificant sentence attachments to each
But when it comes to the crime of murder and these
high-end heinous sexual assaults, isn't that what this
boils down to in the final analysis, the ability of the
judiciary? We would be giving the judiciary legislative
change that would allow them to attach the significance
of the crime when calculating their sentence.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: That's very well put, Peter.
Actually, one of the most major complaints of
all victims I've dealt with in the years we've been
dealing with families of homicide victims, in multiple
murder cases anyway, is the fact that there's no
recognition for the loss of their loved one. It can be
said that they're doing double, triple or 11 times the
time while they're in there for these 15 years. It
just doesn't make sense to any victim that he could
serve 11 sentences all at once. Does the day last 11
times longer for Clifford Olson than it does for
someone else to let him recount what he did to 11
children? I don't think so. There are still only 24
hours in a day. You can't multiply that.
That goes against the argument the other way, which is
that you can't give a person 100 years in prison. I
differ with that, because in my estimation Clifford
Olson, for instance, should have been eligible for
a section 745 hearing in 275 years. I don't have a
problem with that, because it gives some recognition in
there for 15 years, the time he's going to actually do
in prison. Whether the 15 years for the murder of our
son was the third one down the line or the first one
being served is rather irrelevant.
But it's really the recognition of the actual victim
himself or herself that we're missing today.
There was a case in Calgary where an individual
committed a very heinous murder. He was allowed out to
get married to his case worker. A year
after his conviction they were having Chinese food in a
restaurant in MacLeod Trail South in Calgary. His
case worker helped him to escape. The two of them took
off up to Rocky Mountain House. She got six years
in prison, I think, for aiding and abetting a convicted
murderer to escape.
He got five years in
prison, to run concurrently with the current sentence
for murder. What's the point?
But, you're right, victims are looking for some sort
of recognition for the crime that was committed against
them. I think the best example of that, Peter, is in
sexual assault cases. I don't know how many victims
have said to me, “Was I not raped? Why is it not being
carried through the courts?” I have to tell them the
prosecutor decided there was no point in carrying a
hundred and some cases through the court. “What we're
going to do is convict this guy on 12 counts, and he'll get
a number of life sentences for the aggravated sexual
assaults”, etc., and that's it. You're done, you're
finished, you go home. That's hard for a woman, or any
victim, to have to live with. That's the pain we have
to live with today, knowing that the murderer in our
case is not serving one day in jail for the murder of
Mr. Peter MacKay: To take it one step further,
I think there's an importance in the significance of
that calculation. And as they do in the United States,
when you hear somebody has received a sentence of 144
years, that person's not going to see the light of day.
But let's flip it back to the other side, to the
offender, where so often we focus too much of our
attention. What is the signal to somebody who's in jail
and using this...? This is a very minute example—and
I'm not taking the alarmist tack—but there are the
Allan Legeres, those who have escaped and who know
that the most that is going to happen to them is that
their sentence calculation is going to start from the
time they're convicted; however, it's going to run
concurrently to the time they are now serving. If
they're doing 15 years, and two years into their
sentence they escape or they kill another prisoner or a
guard, their sentence is then going to start to run two
years into the sentence. They're still only going to do
the maximum amount of time in this country, which is 25
years. And very, very few make it to that date—very
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: That's right. I would venture to
say, Peter, that Wanda Lee Woodward might be alive
today if we had consecutive sentencing. And there's a
guy, Daniel Gingras, who escaped from prison and
murdered a young man from Montreal. He was already
doing life imprisonment for murder, he was given a day
pass to West Edmonton Mall, and he escaped. He
murdered this young man from Quebec, and then he was
stealing a car from Wanda Lee Woodward. Why should he
leave her alive at this point, because all the
sentences run concurrently with his first life
sentences for murder? It's always life, so what's the
Mr. Peter MacKay: And many of the hard-core
criminals, as you know, have intricate knowledge,
sometimes better than a law degree, about how sentence
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: Much better than I do.
Mr. Peter MacKay: They can tell you before the
judge does what they're going to get.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I'd like to jump in, Peter.
Mr. Peter MacKay: Sure.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: That's one point, that the
maximum sentence is life without parole for 25 years.
But to me the danger with the current system is that if you
have someone the police are hunting, for example for
suspicion of murder, that person has nothing to lose by
killing the police officers who come after him.
Mr. Peter MacKay: Right.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: Life without parole for 25
years is still going to be life without parole for 25
years if you kill the police officers coming after you.
From a policing perspective, I think that's a major
Mr. Peter MacKay: If somebody has escaped and
they're on the run, and they're in a hold-out situation
where they're in a house and they have a hostage, they
know they're going back. If they're serving a life
sentence already, there's no disincentive for them to
kill again—no disincentive.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: Yes. There's another case
that comes to mind, Gary McKorkle, who's presently
doing time down in Tennessee. He raped and murdered
two young boys in Toronto quite a number of years ago.
He was released on parole. He abducted, raped, and
threw over a bridge his two latest victims. He escaped
down to Tennessee. He was already doing a life
sentence. Down in Tennessee he was picked up on
numerous sex offences against children, and the judge,
in sentencing him down there, sentenced him to a life
term, meaning actually 99 years in prison.
judge stated is that he would not release him to
Canadian authorities because of his concern with regard
to our sentencing procedures in Canada. He said
he had already been convicted of two murders, he was up
on two attempted murder and rape charges now—two more
boys—and if he released him to Canadian authorities, he
was afraid that with our system up here he'd end up
back in the community raping and murdering children
Why does it take
a Tennessee judge to figure this out? It's something
this committee should be able to figure out. We're
doing something wrong here. I keep hearing that these
people are going to spend the rest of their lives in
prison. Why wasn't Gary McKorkle in prison? Why
was he allowed to be on the streets to abduct and rape,
and throw over a bridge, two more victims? There's
something seriously wrong here.
Mr. Peter MacKay: If it's only a small amount—
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. MacKay. We'll have
to come back to you.
Mr. Jim Abbott: I canvassed the issue of
retribution, which you did so well. We also talked
about safety. I would like your opinion about the
third element of putting a person in prison, which is
deterrence. In your judgment, of these three,
retribution, safety and deterrence, which of those
three is served best with the proposals in this bill to
see multiple offenders in the most violent of cases put
away for a longer period of time?
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: It's hard to differentiate,
Mr. Abbott. I believe in all three of those
principles, and that there should be retribution for
the crimes committed. From a victim's perspective, I
think the victim expects to see retribution for
their particular crime, which is not being addressed
today. They don't see it today.
As far as safety is
concerned, I think we would obviously address
safety because it may keep the Gary McKorkles in prison
for a longer period of time. There's no question about
it, it would save lives. I believe that.
As far as
the retribution is concerned, I believe in retribution.
I believe society has a right to respond to
offences that are committed against its people.
Mr. Jim Abbott: Is it the opinion of either of you
that this would actually act as a deterrent, and in
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: I don't think there's any
question in my mind that it would act as a deterrent.
I'm not so sure people would commit some of the
second and third crimes that they're known to commit.
The bottom line is that if you walk into a
Toronto-Dominion bank and shoot a guard and as you're
leaving the police are coming after you, if you're
going to get another sentence added on top of that
after you maybe mistakenly—the gun went off—shot a
guard, you're going to try to kill the police officer.
You'll do anything at that point to get away. One more
murder doesn't matter at that point.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: The point also is that this is
not going to stop multiple killers. It's not going to
stop serial killers, but it might make someone think
twice. If we can save one life, like the philosophy of
the gun control registry, which we supported, then this
bill is worth it.
Mr. Jim Abbott: In your opening remarks, Mr.
Sullivan, you said the issue is simple: whether this
committee accepts the principles or not. What's
interesting is that I believe the vast majority of
MPs representing their constituents in the House of
Commons do, and what will be very challenging will be
to see if this ever sees the light of day in the House
of Commons again.
The Chair: Thank you. Mr. Saada is next.
Mr. Jacques Saada: The point I was trying to make,
and my apologies, was not to go against what you were
saying but just to understand properly the system,
because there is a misunderstanding here.
you said that there is no possibility for having
consecutive sentences or consecutive eligibility
periods in case of multiple murders. You gave the
example of police. My understanding is that when you
are sentenced for a second murder offence occurring
after, your ineligibility period starts running at the
time of the second murder, notwithstanding what you did
before. Am I correct?
Mr. Peter MacKay: Right.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: Can I address that
Mr. Jacques Saada: Sure.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I believe that change was made
in Bill C-45 a couple of years ago.
Mr. Jacques Saada: Yes, that's correct.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: What it doesn't do, though,
from my understanding, is if you were to kill three
children today, your sentence would be life without
parole for 25 years. There would be no consecutive
parole and eligibility. If you were to get out and
then kill someone, yes, it is consecutive, but not for
Mr. Jacques Saada: I wasn't trying to make a
substantial argument here, I just wanted to make sure
we were on the same wavelength.
Mr. Peter MacKay: But you can never do more than
25 years. It's not going to be tacked on. It starts
at 25. Your parole eligibility may be delayed but
you're not going to do more than 25 years. That will
be your maximum.
Mr. Jacques Saada: Why do you say that? I'm sorry,
I don't want to—
The Chair: Can we address the questions to the
witness instead of having a discussion across the
Mr. Jacques Saada: My apologies, Mr. Chair. I
should have known.
I really have very little to say.
What you have alluded to and the number of examples you
gave and so on are examples that force us to think.
There has to be something wrong somewhere along the
line for these things to happen.
I'm not convinced at the present time that we don't have
the tools to correct the situations. But I know one thing.
Whatever we do, whatever legislation we have, we are
not going to change the fact that those who have been taken
away have been taken away. Whatever we do, we will
not be able to overcome the suffering.
My concern is that we have a system and the system suffers
from two illnesses, I feel. One is that it is very
little known. The second one is that exceptions are always
at the forefront and therefore the public has very
limited knowledge of what it can do and can offer.
I asked this question yesterday: Are the tools,
including consecutive sentencing, including the addition of
ineligibility periods and so on, already in
the code as it stands
now? The answer I got was yes. Is it applied? Is it
applied systematically? I'm not sure. But before
changing the rules, I would like to know if the rules
are applied properly.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: It's sort of like the victim
fine surcharge. The rules were there, but
nobody was doing it. The Honourable Ms. McLellan just
brought in firm legislation to enact the carrying out
of the victim fine surcharge with fines. Maybe
we have to change the actual Criminal Code to make sure
these sentences are carried out, if it allows for
it at this time.
I've been told many times that consecutive sentencing
is allowed according to the Criminal Code. But the
point is, why is it not being done? Because the
direction of the justice ministry, I'm sure, is for
concurrent sentencing. That's all we see today,
concurrent sentencing. From a victim's point of view,
it just doesn't make sense. It's a charade. It's a
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Saada.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I have two points. Some of
the tools are there. As you know, judges do have the
discretion to impose consecutive sentences for sexual
assault. This bill would obviously limit that
discretion. As we discussed, there is no discretion
for people like Clifford Olson. It's a life sentence
without parole for 25 years. So yes, some of the
tools are there. But I think others aren't.
Regarding your comment about extreme—I don't know the word
used—or rare cases like Olson's, those kinds of
cases have led to a lot of positive change in this
country. Earlier Bill C-55, the high-risk offender
bill, was mentioned, which your government passed. One of the
leading factors in that case was the Christopher
Stephenson murder, the Joseph Fredericks case.
Someone could look at that and say that's an
extreme case. Well, yes, it is, but it's led to
legislation that's going to save lives.
So I think highlighting those types of cases is an
important thing for us to do because it can lead to
positive changes. It's not just that we like to talk
about cases that embarrass judges or governments. It's
that we believe they're going to lead to constructive
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Jacques Saada: Did I use the word
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I'm sorry. I wasn't sure of
the word you used.
Mr. Jacques Saada: Okay.
The Chair: Mr. Marceau.
Mr. Richard Marceau: No, that's fine, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair: Mr. MacKay.
Mr. Peter MacKay: I guess in the final
analysis what it comes down to, as you've said, is
ensuring that in certain cases...and we're talking here
about the very high-end cases that have the most
devastating effect. I think the evidence we've
heard today makes a very strong case for limiting the
discretion or taking away the discretion not to apply
consecutive sentences where that effect has taken
Regardless of how few and far between these serial
murders are, I just think it's incumbent upon us as
legislators to do everything, everything in our power,
to ensure that if we can save a life by preventing
somebody from being released sooner than they should
because of the mandatory eligibility dates, that's
exactly what we should be doing.
The Chair: Is there any comment on Mr. MacKay's comment?
Mr. Peter MacKay: That's fine, thank you.
The Chair: Okay. Mr. DeVillers.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We were talking about the difference between the
American and Canadian systems. The statistics were
given to us yesterday from the Solicitor General's
office on the American experience. A person
sentenced to life without parole serves on average
29 years. In the Canadian system, even with the
application of section 745, the average is 28.4 years.
So it appears to be a difference of approximately half
a year in the actual practical application of those
sentences that people end up serving.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: Are the American statistics
for multiple and serial killers or just for—
Mr. Paul DeVillers: I think it is for
all lifers without parole in the American system.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: What we do in many
cases, Mr. DeVillers, is comparing apples and
oranges. I don't think you can compare, for
instance, the nature and type of crime we have in
Canada with the gang-related violence
you're talking about in the American system, where
they have a lot of organized crime. We know there
are as many murders committed in a month in Chicago as
there are in all of Canada in a year. So you can't
compare. You have different socio-economic factors.
There are too many differences, and I think you'd have
to have a case-by-case breakdown to draw a comparison.
For instance, with Japan it shows here 21.5 years.
But again, what type of crimes are they dealing with?
Every crime is different and you can't just
lump them all together in Canada and say that they do so many
years in Canada compared with 21 years in Japan and
18.5 years in the United States. That's not a fair
comparison. I don't believe that.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: Part of the motivation
for this bill and these measures
would be that the Canadian system is soft. The
Canadian system isn't doing its job in protecting
society. When you compare it internationally the
numbers seem to add up. That's where I'm having
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: This doesn't give a
true picture either, because it doesn't say how many
of these people get back out and commit more crimes in
each of these countries. And it doesn't say how many in
I do know there are murders being committed on a
regular basis by murderers in Canada who have gone to
prison and who have been given a life sentence. We
just had a woman murdered here in Ottawa about two
years ago by a man who murdered his first wife. Why is
this happening? Perhaps we should look at our own
problems here and try to deal with them.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: Those statistics
are here too. Something in the order of 11 people who
have murdered were former murderers.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: Could I just respond to the
American analogy? I'm not here because I
think our system with regard to first-degree murders is
necessarily too soft. I mentioned earlier that the
tools are there to keep the Olsons and Bernardos in
prison forever, for life. What our system can't
do, and I mentioned this earlier, is recognize the
second, third and fourth victims. It's not about being
too soft. I think it's where our system falls down,
because it can't do that.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: In the system as it is now,
a person is under
the control of this system for their natural lifetime,
and in these statistics, as indicated here, the
person serves on average 28.4 years and then either
dies or is in the community under supervision, etc.
How is the enactment of this bill going to
contribute to public safety over that?
Mr. Steve Sullivan: The statistics with regard to
murderers in general skews what multiple killers in
America, for example, might serve. If you look
at just multiple killers, you might find they
serve an average of 50 years in the States. We're
talking about a relatively small number of people. I
don't know how many there are in Canada. I would guess
a couple of hundred. So I don't
think this is a very strong argument when you're dealing with
that small number of people.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: Mr. DeVillers, you have
obviously more faith in Canada's parole system than I do.
Mr. Paul DeVillers: Mr. Sullivan said he
thought it was fairly good, and I'm anxious to receive
his testimony at our subcommittee.
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: I think the parole board
does a relatively good job in some areas, but the
chairman of the National Parole Board also admitted
before this committee just a few years ago to 130
murders being committed in a period of 11 years by
people out on parole in this country. So we're not
really doing that good a job with regard to murders
being committed by people out on parole.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. DeVillers.
We have one last question from Mr. John McKay.
Mr. John McKay: This is directed to you, Mr.
Sullivan. My concern is with respect to amending the
code, which is what we're being invited to do. For
better or for worse, this is really all the Government
of Canada gets to play with. How it's administered and
that sort of stuff gets a little bit beyond our
Looking at the purpose and principles of sentencing,
section 718 says “to denounce”, “to deter”,
“assist in rehabilitating”, etc. In section 718.2, it then
...aggravating...circumstances...where a consecutive
sentence are imposed, the combined sentence should not
be unduly long or harsh
We've talked about multiple offences of four, of
fifty, of a hundred, of that sort of thing. If this
bill proceeds, and certainly if the first proposed
section of the bill proceeds, and you have a situation
in which someone has fifty outstanding charges, first
of all, doesn't that bring the administration of
justice into disrepute? Second of all, doesn't it
create a perverse effect, that being that an individual
will be unwilling to confess to this, this and this?
You may have suspicion of, or you may feel this person
has been the.... The irony will be that out of, say,
fifty cases, you'll get convictions on four but you
will leave unsolved something in the order of forty or
fifty, which would have a perverse effect on those
I'd be interested in your comments on how that might
play through the system.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: On the second part, we
have plea bargaining now under which cases are left
unsolved, I guess you would say.
Mr. John McKay: But there is a resolution, though.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: There is and there isn't. You
referred to fifty. There might be cases in which the
crown, without this bill, might decide to charge
someone with ten if that person pleads guilty, and will
leave the other forty aside. Those cases are never
really resolved for the victim. That's not going to
change. The bill is not going to change the plea
bargaining, and our system depends on that.
As for your earlier comment that the fifty charges might
bring the system into disrepute, I'm not quite sure I
understood what you meant by that.
Mr. John McKay: We heard about some perverse
consequences in yesterday's testimony. The argument
was put to us that what's going to happen is that it's
going to get downloaded from a judicial authority onto
more plea bargaining between the crown and the defence
attorney. That is going to go on regardless, and you
will then have the perverse irony that you will even
have less truth in sentencing than what you're
presently obtaining. As I understand it, that's the
essence of the argument of those who are proponents of
the bill. They just don't feel there's enough truth in
the sentencing in this situation. When you create an
environment for more plea bargaining, you're going to
get less truth in sentencing.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I've thought of it. Certainly
it's one of those things you really can't predict. We
know there's plea bargaining now, and we know there's
going to be plea bargaining if the bill is passed. To
be honest, I don't have the answer for you. It's a
challenge, and this bill is not going to change plea
bargaining. As for whether it's going to encourage
plea bargaining, I'm not convinced that it will. Plea
bargaining is always going to be a part of our system.
I guess my point is that the system isn't there to
make the victims happy, because victims—at least, some
of them, anyway—are always going to walk away from the
system unsatisfied, whether this bill passes or not.
Mr. John McKay: Yes, I agree.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I think part of the principle
of sentencing, whether it's in the code or not, is to
address the harm done to the community and to the
You're going to
introduce some legislation in a short time that
addresses this committee's review of victims, so that
we recognize them.
I know I'm getting off topic, but to be honest, I
don't have a pat answer for your question.
Mr. John McKay: But that goes to Mr.
Marceau's question about mixing the two issues. Mr.
Rosenfeldt's testimony is very compelling with
respect to how he was treated by the system and how his
son was not recognized in that process. That's a
powerful piece of testimony, but I don't know how this
Mr. Steve Sullivan: I guess the thing you could do
is separate the two. For example, if you don't think
the sexual assault provisions are drafted correctly, or
if there are problems that you're not convinced of,
obviously you could separate them with the permission
of the sponsor of the bill. Just have the provisions
regarding to murder, for which I don't think you'd have
those same problems.
I think the purpose of the committee is to hear
witnesses, decide on things, and make the bill better
if you can, so take advantage of that. You have a
number of lawyers on this committee. You have access
to 1,200 or so at the Department of Justice. You have
the tools to make this bill work.
The Chair: Mr. Abbott has one quick question,
and I'll ask for a quick response, please.
Mr. Jim Abbott: Do you think changing the word
“shall” to the word “may” in the first proposed
section of this bill, which would allow for more
discretion for the judge, would be beneficial or
detrimental to the intent of the bill?
Mr. Steve Sullivan: In the first clause with
regard to sexual assault?
Mr. Jim Abbott: Yes, the proposed section that
says the judge “shall” impose consecutive sentences.
If that “shall” were to be amended to read “may”,
would that have a positive or negative impact in your
judgment? I'm assuming the net result would be that it
would give one more tool to the judges but would not
compel the judges. What I got from the chief of police
was that he wanted the “shall” to remain, and I'm now
asking you for your opinion.
Mr. Steve Sullivan: With regard to the sexual
assault provisions, they currently have that
discretion. They don't with regard to murder. If
you're asking which one I'd prefer, I would prefer the
mandatory, but.... Certainly “shall” is better than the
Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt: We'd prefer the
Mr. Jim Abbott: Okay, thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Rosenfeldt, Mr.
Sullivan. I appreciate your comments of this
The meeting is adjourned.