A matter for the courts
Last week, a wave of furor ripped across the country, as Conservative leader Andrew Scheer attempted to demonize Trudeau’s Liberals for allowing the murderer of Tori Stafford to be transferred from a medium security prison to a facility being referred to as a healing lodge.
That was the narrative he was trying to create. It’s a narrative that is horribly flawed.
Many readers will likely recall the horrific killing of Stafford, who was eight years old at the time of her death. Her killer, Terri-Lynne McClintic, was sentenced in 2010.
To be abundantly clear, the crime was heinous beyond comprehension and surely most of us believe the place for McClintic is behind bars, period. But that is not our call. Nor is it the call of politicians.
The branches of our government are separate and autonomous for a reason, and that is the protection of the integrity of the system itself. It is the job of legislators to pass legislation. To create laws. It is the job of the courts to interpret and enforce those laws. And never the twain shall meet. Period.
It is crucial to the very foundation of democracy that the court process not be influenced by politicians. Think of the myriad and disturbing implications if the House of Commons began meddling with court decisions that members of parliament found unacceptable. The entire system would rot. Very quickly. Legislatures do not override courts in functional democracies. That is something that happens in authoritarian countries.
The motion that made its way to the floor of the House of Commons last week had no place in the House to begin with. Scheer’s Conservatives may cry foul at the Liberals – and his purported indignation was retweeted by Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Jamie Schmale – but the true foul was bringing the matter into the legislature in the first place.
It was political theatre, politicizing a tragedy, designed to invoke an emotional response and make us all angry.
Stafford’s killer has been assessed over and over again by psychological and legal professionals. While many Canadians may have a visceral reaction to her seemingly light treatment by the criminal justice system, the objective reality is that what happens to her is fully the purview of the criminal justice system.
Surely, Scheer and Schmale know this. They certainly should.