Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Government Wants to Throw Away Key for 'Most Heinous' Offenders: MacKay

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Government Wants to Throw Away Key for 'Most Heinous' Offenders: MacKay

Article excerpt

Throw away key for 'most heinous': MacKay

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OTTAWA - Criminals who are convicted of the worst crimes -- such as multiple murders or sex assaults on children -- could spend the rest of their lives behind bars, with no chance of parole, under planned federal legislation.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay elaborated Friday on the government's plan, promised in this week's throne speech, to lock some criminals up and throw away the key.

"We are talking about individuals who have committed the most heinous crimes serving an entire life in prison," MacKay said during a conference call to discuss the Conservative government's justice-related priorities.

MacKay said the forthcoming provisions would be applied very narrowly.

"When I say the worst of the worst, the most violent, repeat offenders, we're talking about multiple murders, multiple sexual assaults on the most vulnerable -- our children," he said. "We want to ensure that certain individuals capable and convicted of those offences will never be let out of prison.

"The primary responsibility of any government, first and foremost, is to protect the public. And we intend to amplify and buttress our ability to do that."

Asked to cite the kind of offender the bill would cover, MacKay mentioned notorious sex killer Paul Bernardo as "an obvious example."

Bernardo is classified as a "dangerous offender," all but ensuring he is never set free.

MacKay acknowledged there are already tools -- such as the dangerous offender designation -- to keep some criminals from being released. The Conservative government has also scrapped the so-called faint-hope clause that allowed some inmates with life sentences to seek early parole.

Still, the government wants to ensure "there are no loopholes" in the law that criminals can exploit, MacKay said.

"This would both provide surety and public confidence, and that is the intent in bringing about further changes. …

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