Politicians can't interfere with where and how Tori Stafford's killer serves her time: Opinion

October 5, 2018
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

From a Globe and Mail opinion piece: Benjamin Perrin is a professor of law at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and Munk Senior Fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute for Public Policy. He was an adviser and in-house legal counsel in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office and was a law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Terri-Lynne McClintic pleaded guilty in 2010 to the first-degree murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford. It was a brutal killing that shocked Canadians. For this heinous crime, she was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 25 years. We're now facing the disturbing prospect of politicians – rather than courts and corrections officials – deciding where and how she serves her remaining time.

Ms. McClintic, who is Indigenous, was classified in 2014 as a medium-security prisoner. She was reportedly transferred in December, 2017, to the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Saskatchewan, which is a corrections facility run by Correctional Service of Canada for minimum- and medium-security female offenders. This has created a political firestorm and understandable calls by the Stafford family to reverse the decision.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has asked the corrections commissioner to review the transfer decision, which is a reasonable and appropriate response. But Opposition Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer's motion - which was rejected Wednesday - called on the House of Commons to demand that the federal government order Ms. McClintic be sent back to a traditional penitentiary.

Mr. Scheer wanted politicians to have the power to single out a particular offender and decide how they get treated. That approach, which may well stir up voters, raises some serious concerns. This is the antithesis of how our democracy works, based on centuries of hard-learned lessons about limits on the abuse of state power.

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