OTTAWA — Local MP Eric Duncan is taking aim at the most heinous criminal offenders with his first private member’s bill. Simultaneously tabled in the upper chamber by Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu the related bills would empower judges to raise parole eligibility from 25 to 40 years when imposing life sentences on perpetrators who have abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered their victim.
The sponsors say the change would prevent victims’ families from having to “unnecessarily confront the most severe and brutal criminals in Canada.” It’s the second time the bill has been introduced in the House of Commons. Tory MP James Bezan of Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman was unsuccessful in having it passed after spearheading the effort in the lower chamber in 2016.
“I am proud to bring this legislation forward again, as it is a compassionate bill that supports victim’s families, who have already been traumatized enough,” said Duncan, who represents Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry. “This is a common-sense, bipartisan bill that has received support from other parties over the years. As parliamentarians, we talk about doing more for victims. This bill gives us the perfect chance to put our words into action. It is time to finally get this across the finish line,” added the MP, member of Erin O’Toole’s Official Opposition Conservatives.
Backers point out the vast majority of perpetrators in this most serious criminal category never see the outside of their prison cells again, anyway. “Despite that fact, they are able to force the families of their victims to relive the horrific details of the murder of their loved ones every two years” after reaching parole eligibility. If passed, the bill would significantly delay the start of the biannual parole hearing process — by as much as 15 years.
Duncan’s executive assistant Adrian Bugelli noted that private members bills’ (PMBs) typically have “a bit more legs” a minority parliament situation. “We are expecting very good support for this bill from all sides,” Bugelli said.
Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu was appointed to the Senate by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.