Weekly Commentary  

Hope for Clifford Olsen?

Hope for Clifford Olsen? Hope is the oxygen of the human soul. Without it, life can be unbearable. With it, the worst heartbreaks and the most excruciating situations can be overcome.

Some years ago the federal government of the day allowed itself to introduce a misguided notion of 'hope' into its criminal justice legislation. It opened a door of possibility of early parole for killers who had been convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life in jail.

Keep in mind that a 'life' sentence for premeditated murder (even multiple murders) actually means 25 years at most before a parole hearing. Now add to that an opportunity for a first degree murderer to apply for parole in some cases after only 15 years in jail. It's not a guarantee, but it gives killers at least some 'faint hope'.

Too bad for the loved ones of murdered victims. They had some hope that at least for 25 years they wouldn't have to face the dreaded day when they would be notified that their loved one's killer was now applying to get out of jail. The 'faint hope' clause robbed them of that 25 year hope. It held in front of them the possibility that they would have to go in front of a panel, once again, only 180 months after their loved one's slaying. They would have to relay and replay all the horror and grief of that loss in front of strangers in the hope that their victim impact statement would be convincing enough to keep the killer behind bars.

Most Canadians think it should be the victims of crime who are allowed a little hope, ahead of the hope needs of the perpetrators. Most Canadians think 25 years for cold blooded murder should mean 25 years - at least. Not fifteen. So we've brought forward the necessary changes to that flawed law. This week we voted on it. It managed to pass the first hurdle. But it was far from unanimous.

I believe in the right of MP's to vote freely in the House of Commons. What I find hard to believe is that all those Opposition MP's who voted to keep alive a killer's hope of a 15 year sentence actually had the support of their constituents.

Remember, this was not a vote on capital punishment where it may be argued that an MP was voting his conscience on a matter of life or death. This was a case of whose lives an MP thinks should be best sheltered from the consequences of an heinous crime - the murderers', or the loved ones of the murdered.

I think the Opposition members who voted for the hope of the killers should state their reasons why.

I voted for the victims, not the murderers. I stated why. People who are badly hurt need a little hope.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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