LILLEY: Liberal policies and incompetence led to Bernardo transfer

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The review of the transfer of Paul Bernardo from a medium security prison and the changes that are coming out of that are nothing but an attempt by the government in Ottawa to cover their own butts.

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The review found the transfer of Bernardo followed all laws but there needs to be better communication with the Public Safety Minister’s office going forward.

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Anne Kelly, the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada, released the findings of the review into Bernardo’s transfer during a Thursday afternoon news conference in Ottawa.

“The review committee concluded that the decisions to reclassify Paul Bernardo to medium and transfer him to La Macaza were sound, and followed all applicable laws and policies,” Kelly said.

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The executive summary of the report noted that reviews of prisoner transfers are taken under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Section 28 of that law, as passed by the Trudeau Liberals in 2019, states “the Service shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the penitentiary in which they are confined is one that provides them with the least restrictive environment for that person.”

That’s the policy passed by the Liberals, make sure inmates have the least restrictive lifestyle possible while in jail. If you remember back to when news of Bernardo’s transfer happened, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino was outraged at this move.

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“The Correctional Service of Canada’s independent decision to transfer Paul Bernardo to a medium security institution is shocking and incomprehensible,” Mendicino said at the time.

Hmmmm, seems their independent decision was crafted by the government he is a part of and the legislative record shows he voted for this change.

Did he not read the legislation giving CSC this guidance? Did he not understand what the end result of passing this legislation would be? Was he drumming up false outrage when the news broke to cover his own butt?

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A wise person would go with the fact that Mendicino was generating false outrage to cover his own butt.

Mendicino has maintained he did not know about the transfer until the day it happened, even though his office was first informed on March 2, 2023, that the transfer could happen and then on May 25 that it was happening. Mendicino’s top political staffers were informed as was the most senior bureaucrat in his department Deputy Minister Shawn Tupper.

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We are supposed to believe that none of the people around Mendicino bothered to tell him that a notorious serial killer and rapist was being transferred and no one gave him a heads up. No one who has worked in the upper levels of politics at the federal or provincial levels, regardless of party, finds this credible.

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If Mendicino wasn’t told it means that all of his senior staff are incompetent and should be fired. But none of them have been, nor has the minister. That could change soon given the ongoing rumours of a cabinet shuffle in Ottawa and the answer Trudeau gave when asked Thursday if he had confidence in Mendicino to do the job.

“Anyone in my cabinet, by definition, has my confidence,” Trudeau said.

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He had to be asked twice about his confidence in Mendicino to get that sad show of support. Which likely means the minister will be gone shortly, but not Anne Kelly, the head of CSC, who was only following Liberal orders.

Part of those new orders will include briefing the minister directly about such transfers instead of following the long-standing protocol of informing his senior staff via official channels. New directions will also require CSC to “consider victim information at the outset” of any transfer request process as well as other policies on notifying victims.

What won’t change is the Liberal policy passed in 2018, the one Trudeau and Mendicino voted for saying that inmates needed the least restrictive conditions on their incarceration.

Sadly, that policy is staying put, at least until we have a new government in place.

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