GOLDSTEIN: Doublethink logic behind Bernardo’s prison transfer

Correctional Service of Canada has a dismal record when it comes to its general disregard for the families of all murder victims

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How did Paul Bernardo’s “shocking and incomprehensible” transfer from a maximum to medium security prison on May 29, 2023, morph into being “sound” and in compliance with “all applicable laws and policies” on July 20, 2023?

To appreciate how this transformation occurred – the first statement by Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino in a tweet on June 2, the second by Correctional Service Canada Commissioner Anne Kelly in the wake of a three-person review of the transfer by the CSC – you have to be able to engage in a process of doublethink worthy of George Orwell’s 1984.

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That is, the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs on an issue at the same time, while believing both are true.

That’s what the Trudeau government and the bureaucrats at CSC want us to think.

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That Mendicino’s tweet on June 2 – four days after Bernardo’s transfer – that CSC’s decision was “shocking and incomprehensible” and that Canadians were “rightfully appalled” by it, is compatible with the CSC reporting on July 20 that it was the standard operating procedure and no big deal.

With the exception, the report said, that CSC could have done a better job of informing the families of Bernardo’s murder victims – Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French – in advance about the transfer, although there was no violation of CSC policy, because the policy doesn’t require it.

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In this case, because of its high-profile nature, CSC decided to give a “heads up” to the families on the morning of the transfer, but couldn’t reach all of them by phone.

Then again, CSC bureaucrats – as revealed by Global News, which obtained internal CSC emails through an access to information request – weren’t fans of informing them in advance anyway, because they “worried the circus would begin prior to the transfer.”

Excuse us, “the circus”?

That’s indicative of the CSC’s long-standing disregard for the families of murder victims, despite its claims of treating them with compassion.

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Even the CSC’s own review concluded it could have been more open with the families under its existing policy.

The CSC policy also did not require it to inform the public safety minister of the transfer, which will now be amended at Mendicino’s instructions, although that will have no practical effect because the minister can’t change CSC decisions.

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That’s indicated by the fact Bernado’s transfer from maximum security Millhaven prison in Ontario to medium security La Macaza prison in Quebec will stand, however shocking, incomprehensible and appalling Mendicino may have found it on June 2.

Mendicino said he didn’t know about Bernardo’s transfer in advance, even though his office was informed of it by CSC on March 2, 2023 and on May 25, 2023 – four days before the transfer.

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That means no one on his staff told him about it, which raises a slew of other concerns.

The logical conclusion here is not that the way this was handled was “shocking and incomprehensible,” as Mendicino described it on June 2, or that it was the CSC’s standard operating procedure, as the internal CSC review described it on July 20.

The logical conclusion is that the CSC’s standard operating procedure is what’s “shocking and incomprehensible.”

Given the CSC’s dismal record in this area – its general disregard for the families of all murder victims – the only positive thing that can possibly come out of this is for CSC to change its policy, which it says it will review based on a recommendation in the Bernardo report.

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