Bissonnet before the Supreme Court today

What to expect? Is 25 years MINIMUM enough for a defendant who has committed multiple murders? Have we forgotten that the sentence is not 25 years, but life imprisonment? Can we trust that the parole board won’t release a killer after 25 years if he’s not exonerated? Will a minimum of 150 years until parole, that is, never get out of prison, allow more deterrence for those who are tempted to commit multiple murders? The Supreme Court will face a difficult task in today’s hearing in the case of Alexandre Bissonnet, the author of the Quebec mosque massacre.

To fully understand, one must start from the very beginning. Prior to life imprisonment, there was the death penalty for serious crimes such as treason and murder. Crimes such as first-degree murder now carry a minimum sentence of life in prison, with a 25-year period where parole is not possible; Second-degree murder also carries a minimum sentence of life imprisonment, but with the possibility of parole for 10 to 25 years. These provisions were adopted after the abolition of the death penalty in Canada.

We can no longer take a killer’s life to punish him because it is inhumane, but we can put him in prison for life because his crime is horrendous and very serious. However, the authorities of that time provided for the possibility of parole after a certain time in order to comply with one of the pillars of our penitentiary system – the possibility of rehabilitating a criminal. For this purpose, a Commission is being created to determine whether a person who has committed a particularly serious crime is rehabilitated before his release after the expiration of the period of inadmissibility. The commission will continue to watch over him for the rest of his life.

The Harper government, finding that we should be stricter with a defendant who committed multiple murders, passed the Canadian Protection Act, removing the commutation of sentences for multiple murders in 2011, thereby allowing a section of the Penal Code that allows a judge to add up periods. on the waiver of 25-year vouchers for first-degree murder and 10 to 25-year vouchers for second-degree murder:

  • 745.51 (1) At the time of sentencing under section 745, the judge presiding over the trial of a criminal convicted of murder and convicted of one or more other murders, or, if he cannot, any judge of the same court. – may, having regard to the nature of the offender, the nature of the offense and the circumstances in which it was committed, and any recommendation made pursuant to section 745.21, order that periods of ineligibility for parole on each murder conviction be served .

When we talk about “consecutively served” in this article, it means that the period of Ineligibility is cumulative. Hence 25 + 25 or 10 + 10…

It is from this moment that the debate begins, which will end today in the Supreme Court. Is this article unconstitutional? Does he violate the Constitution, which is above all laws? Can we foresee that a person will not have the right to prove that he has been rehabilitated? In some cases, until the end of his life when we are talking about a minimum of 50 years, or even never when we are talking about more… perhaps 150 years in Bissonnette’s case.

At present, the discussion is going in all directions. On the one hand, we always remember that a sentence is not revenge and that not allowing parole within a reasonable time would be a cruel and unusual punishment sanctioned by the Charter. On the other hand, the question arises of how to measure horror. How to prove by the severity of the sentence that murder is worse than murder?

So far, the Quebec Supreme Court has ruled that said article is unconstitutional, but Judge Huot tried to remedy that by giving Bissonnette a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 40 years. The Quebec Court of Appeal disagreed with this theory. For her, this section is simply unconstitutional, and the judge of first instance did not have the authority to change it, to correct it in his decision.

So far, the situation in Canada is such that the sentence for Alexandre Bissonnette is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for 25 years; that Justin Bourque, responsible for the 2014 Moncton shooting that killed 3 people, is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 75 years; that the sentence for Bruce MacArthur, that gardener from Ontario who killed and buried 8 people, is life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 50 years. What the hell…

That is why today the Supreme Court of Canada will be empowered to bring order, to shed light on the possibility of accumulating parole terms in the case of multiple murders. For my part, I believe this article will be invalidated by the court, but I also firmly believe that it is time to raise awareness of the Parole Board for Public Trust and invest in this commission to ensure the job is done well. . the effect that there is no killer who will come out if he is not rehabilitated.

The case of Eustagio Gallese, the man who murdered a sex worker after being released from prison on a conviction for the murder of his wife, does not reassure us at all. But the case of Paul Bernardo, that serial killer who repeatedly asked for parole without success, is reassuring.

To be continued! For those interested in the case, you can follow the hearing live at 9:30 a.m. on the Supreme Court website in the Hearings section:

https://www.scc-csc.ca/home-accueil/index-eng.aspx

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