Search this Topic:
Apr 19 10 6:21 PM
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper lamented Monday that Karla Homolka is eligible to seek a pardon for her crime this summer — and that 99 per cent of applications are approved by the National Parole Board. "The law will allow Karla Homolka to apply for a pardon this year," Harper told a gathering Monday to mark national crime victims week. "In fact, more than 99 per cent of pardon applications that reach the adjudication stage are granted."Harper's comments suggest that the government intends to go further than restricting pardons for sex offenders — that others will also be included in new legislation designed to make pardons harder or even impossible to obtain for certain types of offenders.Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is planning to introduce new legislation this year to toughen the pardon system, in reaction to revelations earlier this month that sex offender Graham James, the disgraced former hockey coach, received a pardon three years ago."Even though he ruined the lives of boys that just wanted to play hockey, he can travel without having to admit his criminal record," Harper said. "That, my friends, is how the laws have been written over the past few decades, written when soft-on-crime attitudes were fashionable and concern for criminals took priority over compassion for victims."Harper failed to mention that his government reviewed the system for sex-offender pardons in 2006 and opted for administrative tinkering rather than changing legislation to make it harder or even impossible for people like James to be pardoned.At a separate gathering, however, Toews acknowledged that the first review, ordered by then public safety minister Stockwell Day, didn't go far enough.Day settled for minor changes so that two members of the National Parole Board, rather than one, screen applications for sex offenders."My colleague, Minister Day, made some improvements in 2007," Toews told reporters at a meeting of the Canadian Police Association. "Those were not sufficient to deal with some of the pressing problems that we continue to face."Toews said he expects to table a bill by the fall at the latest. It is unclear whether the changes could make a difference in Homolka's case.Under the current law, offenders can apply to the National Parole Board for pardons three or five years after completing their sentences, depending on the gravity of the crime.Yves Bellefeuille, director of the National Parole Board, would not comment directly on Homolka's chances of securing a pardon if she decides to apply.But he said the board follows legislation that gives it little leeway to deny pardons if applicants meet the conditions, and that their crime or public opinion is not a factor. Applicants must show they have led a crime-free life after sentence completion.Homolka was freed from prison in July 2005 after serving 12 years for manslaughter for helping her then husband, Paul Bernardo, in the sex killings of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. Video tapes discovered after she had reached a plea bargain showed her to have a more active role.Offenders convicted of first- and second-degree murder, and those serving indeterminate sentences, are not eligible to apply for pardons, but Homolka does not fit into that category because of the plea bargain, reached in exchange for testifying against Bernardo.According to widely publicized court files, Homolka told a psychologist during her imprisonment that she hoped she would be pardoned one day.The Montreal Gazette reported more than two years ago that Homolka had moved to the Caribbean with her second husband.Pardons do not forgive a criminal record, but they mask them so they do not surface in backgrounds checks. Sex offenders, however, turn up in checks if they apply to work with children or other vulnerable people.
Apr 19 10 6:28 PM
Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, April 19, 2010 Karla Homolka appears on a preview to an interview on RDI after her release from prison, Jul., 4, 2005.
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the government is powerless to stop killer Karla Homolka from applying for a pardon when she becomes eligible this summer -- and that 99% of applications are approved by the National Parole Board.
"The law will allow Karla Homolka to apply for a pardon this year," Mr. Harper told a gathering Monday to mark national crime victims week.
"In fact, more than 99% of pardon applications that reach the adjudication stage are granted."
Mr. Harper's comments suggest that the government intends to go further than restricting pardons for sex offenders -- that others will also be included in new legislation designed to make pardons harder or even impossible to obtain for certain types of offenders.
The government is planning to introduce new legislation this year to toughen the pardon system, in reaction to revelations earlier this month that sex offender Graham James, the disgraced former hockey coach, received a pardon three years ago.
"Even though he ruined the lives of boys that just wanted to play hockey, he can travel without having to admit his criminal record," Mr. Harper said. "That, my friends, is how the laws have been written over the past few decades, written when soft-on-crime attitudes were fashionable and concern for criminals took priority over compassion for victims.
Mr. Harper did not mention that his government reviewed the system for sex-offender pardons in 2006 and opted for minor administrative tinkering rather than changing legislation to make it harder or even impossible for people like James to be pardoned.
At a separate gathering, however, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews acknowledged that the first review, ordered by then public safety minister Stockwell Day, didn't go far enough.
Mr. Day settled for minor administrative changes so that two members of the National Parole Board, rather than one, screen applications for sex offenders.
"My colleague, Minister Day, made some improvements in 2007," Mr. Toews told reporters at a meeting of the Canadian Police Association. "Those were not sufficient to deal with some of the pressing problems that we continue to face."
Mr. Toews said he expects to table a bill by the fall at the the latest.
Under the current law, offenders can apply to the National Parole Board for pardons three or five years after completing their sentences, depending on the gravity of the crime.
The board has said it has no discretion to refuse pardons as long as the offenders meet the key requirement of demonstrating they have been upstanding citizens since serving their sentence.
Homolka was freed from prison in July 2005 after serving 12 years for manslaughter for her role in the sex killings of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. Video tapes discovered after she had reached a plea bargain showed her to have a more active role in helping her then husband, Paul Bernardo.
Offenders convicted of first- and second-degree murder, and those serving indeterminate sentences, are not eligible to apply for pardons, but Homolka does not fit into that category because of the plea bargain.
She said, upon her release, that she would like to be pardoned one day.
Pardons do not forgive a criminal record, but they mask them so they do not surface in backgrounds checks. Sex offenders, however, turn up in checks if they apply to work with children or other vulnerable people.
Apr 19 10 6:34 PM
"The law will allow Karla Homolka to apply for a pardon this year," Harper told a gathering Monday to mark national crime victims week. "In fact, more than 99 per cent of pardon applications that reach the adjudication stage are granted."Harper's comments suggest that the government intends to go further than restricting pardons for sex offenders - that others will also be included in new legislation designed to make pardons harder or even impossible to obtain for certain types of offenders.Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is planning to introduce new legislation this year to toughen the pardon system, in reaction to revelations earlier this month that sex offender Graham James, the disgraced former hockey coach, received a pardon three years ago."Even though he ruined the lives of boys that just wanted to play hockey, he can travel without having to admit his criminal record," Harper said. "That, my friends, is how the laws have been written over the past few decades, written when soft-on-crime attitudes were fashionable and concern for criminals took priority over compassion for victims."Harper failed to mention that his government reviewed the system for sex-offender pardons in 2006 and opted for administrative tinkering rather than changing legislation to make it harder or even impossible for people like James to be pardoned.At a separate gathering, however, Toews acknowledged that the first review, ordered by then public safety minister Stockwell Day, didn't go far enough.Day settled for minor changes so that two members of the National Parole Board, rather than one, screen applications for sex offenders."My colleague, Minister Day, made some improvements in 2007," Toews told reporters at a meeting of the Canadian Police Association. "Those were not sufficient to deal with some of the pressing problems that we continue to face."Toews said he expects to table a bill by the fall at the latest. It is unclear whether the changes could make a difference in Homolka's case.Under the current law, offenders can apply to the National Parole Board for pardons three or five years after completing their sentences, depending on the gravity of the crime.Yves Bellefeuille, director of the National Parole Board, would not comment directly on Homolka's chances of securing a pardon if she decides to apply.But he said the board follows legislation that gives it little leeway to deny pardons if applicants meet the conditions, and that their crime or public opinion is not a factor. Applicants must show they have led a crime-free life after sentence completion.Homolka was freed from prison in July 2005 after serving 12 years for manslaughter for helping her then husband, Paul Bernardo, in the sex killings of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. Video tapes discovered after she had reached a plea bargain showed her to have a more active role.Offenders convicted of first- and second-degree murder, and those serving indeterminate sentences, are not eligible to apply for pardons, but Homolka does not fit into that category because of the plea bargain, reached in exchange for testifying against Bernardo.According to widely publicized court files, Homolka told a psychologist during her imprisonment that she hoped she would be pardoned one day.The Montreal Gazette reported more than two years ago that Homolka had moved to the Caribbean with her second husband.Pardons do not forgive a criminal record, but they mask them so they do not surface in backgrounds checks.
Apr 20 10 6:06 PM
Stephen Harper is using the spectre of ex-convict Karla Homolka receiving a pardon as proof Canada is still too easy on offenders and in dire need of more prescriptions from the Conservatives’ tough-on-crime agenda.
The law as it stands allows Ms. Homolka to apply for a pardon this year, the Prime Minister pointed out Monday, and he said the fact that nearly all such applications are approved demonstrates the need to toughen up the pardon process.
It’s evidence of persistent problems in the justice system, he said. The Homolka example is the third case Mr. Harper has seized upon in recent weeks along with revelations that sex offender Graham James has already received a pardon and that serial killer Clifford Olson is entitled to income support payments for pensioners.
“That, my friends, is how the laws have been written over the past few decades, written when soft-on-crime attitudes were fashionable and concern for criminals took priority over compassion for victims,” Mr. Harper told an event to mark national crime victims week.
“The problems run deep, but we will keep pushing forward.”
Returning to their law-and-order roots helps the Tories change the channel in federal politics, which have been dominated recently by Conservative MP Helena Guergis’s resignation from cabinet and titillating details of the business dealings of husband and former MP Rahim Jaffer.
The Tories are scrambling to toughen the pardon process after they were embarrassed in early April by reports that Mr. James was pardoned for repeated crimes against teenaged hockey players in the 1980s and 1990s. His pardon was granted in 2007.
The Conservatives are expected to introduce legislation before the summer break that represents a more ambitious overhaul than their 2007 effort to tighten the pardon process. Back then, former public safety minister Stockwell Day made relatively minor changes such as requiring two National Parole Board members, rather than one, to review sex offender pardons.
Vic Toews, the current Public Safety Minister, acknowledged the Tories’ 2007 changes “were not sufficient to deal with some of the pressing problems that we continue to face.”
Ms. Homolka was freed from prison in July, 2005, after serving 12 years for assisting ex-husband Paul Bernardo in the sex slayings of schoolgirls Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. She obtained a light sentence as part of a plea bargain for testifying against Mr. Bernardo. It later emerged that she was less a victim than a willing participant.
She should be eligible to apply for a pardon this summer.
A pardon does not forgive a criminal record but means that someone’s conviction is no longer public and does not show up on criminal background checks. The records of sex offenders turn up in checks if they apply to work with children and the vulnerable.
John Rosen, who served as Mr. Bernardo’s trial lawyer, said he doesn’t believe Ms. Homolka would be granted a pardon given what Canadians know about her.
“Unless she can demonstrate a complete rehabilitation and a specific need for the pardon, that given her involvement and the offences involved, I would doubt someone would exercise their discretion in their favour,” Mr. Rosen said. “But I have been wrong before.
He said the legislation as it currently stands works for many young people who have been convicted of minor offences such as drug possession in their teens or early 20s.
“When they’re in their 30s or 40s, and they want to travel to the U.S. or get bonded jobs, they can’t do it without the pardon.”
Lawrence Greenspon, who served as defence lawyer in the Momin Khawaja terrorist trial, decried what he called the Harper government’s “knee-jerk” decisions to make laws based on isolated high-profile examples. He said it’s unlikely Ms. Homolka, with her notoriety, could rely on a pardon to prevent her conviction from dogging her throughout life.
“The practical impact of her getting a pardon is nil but it’s great politics because you once again can dredge up the name ‘Homolka,’” Mr. Greenspon said.
Don Davies, NDP public safety critic, said he supports a review of the pardon system given controversy over the James example.
“But I don’t think good policy is made by extreme cases.”
Apr 20 10 6:12 PM
Tuesday, 20 Apr 2010
Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo on their wedding day
OTTAWA, Ont. - Infamous Canadian killer Karla Homolka is eligible for a pardon later this year and that is not sitting well with many in Ontario.
The government is moving quickly to draft new legislation to prevent heinous offenders — like Homolka — from easily being pardoned for their crimes.
Homolka is eligible to apply for a pardon in July after living crime-free for five years following her 2005 release from prison.
She served only 12 years for three manslaughter convictions. She made a deal to provide evidence against her then-husband Paul Bernardo.
The young couple was charged with killing Tammy Homolka, Karla's sister, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy in the 1990's.
Apr 20 10 9:54 PM
Doug French, the father of slain St. Catharines schoolgirl Kristen French, said Tuesday the idea of Homolka receiving a pardon is a frightening one. "It's always a worry that it could happen," he said. "I don't think she ever should, and the system shouldn't allow it." French was commenting on plans announced Monday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to change the way pardons are handed out in Canada. Harper tasked Public Safety Minister Vic Toews with drafting legislation that would alter how the National Parole Board pardons criminals.
Currently, the board cannot distinguish between types of crimes when considering a pardon application. That could change in Toews' recommendations when they are brought before the House of Commons.
Although no deadline has been set, Harper said he wanted the recommendations drafted quickly.
St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra said there are two reasons why the government wants to get legislation before the house as fast as possible.
The first, he said, was the news two weeks ago that former hockey coach Graham James — convicted of sexually assaulting some of his players in the 1980s and '90s, including former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy — received a pardon in 2007.
"That just shows there is something wrong with how this is being handled," Dykstra said, noting that because James still lives under several legal restrictions even with his pardon. This would not be the case for someone like Karla Homolka, he said.
Homolka, who served a 12-year manslaughter sentence for her part in the sex slayings of 15-year-old French and 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy of Burlington, will be eligible to apply for a pardon in July. Her former husband, Paul Bernardo, remains behind bars for his role in the killings.
Dykstra said the government wants to have new rules in place before she can apply.
"Right now, 99% of applications (that reach the adjudication stage) are approved for a pardon," Dykstra said. "There is no real framework there, and that is something we need to change."
Neither Dykstra nor Niagara Falls MP and federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson could say how many applications reach that adjudication stage.
On Tuesday morning, Nicholson said the pardoning system has to change — not only to more closely consider the crimes committed, but also the impact on victims.
"We need to put victims first and we need to put public safety first," said Nicholson, who introduced legislation Tuesday to put an end to so-called "faint hope" rules that hold out the possibility for murderers to get early parole after a designated number of years behind bars.
Nicholson said when a criminal is paroled too early or pardoned unjustly, victims are hurt all over again.
"I hear it all the time when I talk to victims. They are 'revictimized,' and that is something we should strive to prevent," he said.
Dykstra said he hopes opposition parties will buy into the changes to pardons, but said he doesn't expect to hear from the other side until Toews puts something before the house.
However, he said it was critical get that legislations in front of MPs quickly so it can be debated and undergo committee reviews before July.
May 3 10 5:42 PM
Proceedings of the Canadian Association for Information Science, 22nd Annual Conference, May 25-27, 1994, McGill University:109-126.
Copyright 1994 by Leslie Regan Shade. The paper is publically licensed so that it may be copied for further distribution, provided that it is copied and distributed in its entirety, including this title page.
The Homolka case challenges information professionals in learning how to respond and formulate policies that deal with the growing complexity, in both social and legal terms, of new multi-media forms of information. The resolution of these issues is at best unresolved and murky now, as the law has not kept up with technological currency. What is censorship in networked environments? Should electronic information stored on computer networks be accorded the same status as books and other materials housed in libraries? How can one police information, if at all, given the peripatetic qualities of networked communications?
Kovacs allowed in his court room Canadian media "on proof of accreditation to the Court Services Manager", the families of the victims and the accused, Counsel for Paul Teale, and the Court's Law Clerk. Foreign press were not allowed in the court, and the media were not allowed to publish details of the deaths of the victims, or reveal this information directly or indirectly to the foreign press.
Opposing the Crown's decision were four dominant media outlets: the Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd., Thomson Newspapers Co. Ltd., The Toronto Sun, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. They argued that by ignoring Teale's opposition to the ban, the Crown and Kovacs were violating his Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Lawyers also stated that the public had a right to know whether Homolka's manslaughter charge and sentence was appropriate, whether there was a plea bargain, whether victim impact statements were accounted for, and whether Homolka would present a danger to the public upon her release (Platiel).
Judge Kovacs admitted in his ruling that it would be difficult to monitor American coverage of the charges, given the easy cross-border availability of American newspapers, television channels, radio stations, and the impossibility of enforcing an "effective blackout of the cable television channels",(see R. v. Bernardo...), but he certainly did not anticipate how new technological forms, in the guise of computer networks, would subvert his ruling and spark intense debates amongst university administrators, librarians, and the public.
A Toronto Star article that appeared in late July after the conviction of Karla Homolka reported that a number of BBS's, known as "Bernardo Billboards", started appearing following Teale's February arrest, and others after Karla Homolka's arrest (Duncanson, Pron). On July 14th, a new Usenet newsgroup, alt.fan.karla.homolka, was announced with the comment:
"Hey, has anyone noticed how cool Karla Homolka's eyes look? I like women who have a penchant for S&M, and who aren't afraid to take a video camera into the bedroom. This newsgroup is for people who share my tastes. My Canada includes Karla Homolka (and she's a babe)" [see: [email protected]
Alt.fan.karla.homolka, along with another Usenet newsgroup, ont.general, presented a melange of rumors and innuendo, along with political commentary, surrounding the case, the trial, and the media ban. The information was collected into an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), an itemization of the alleged atrocities committed by Homolka and Teale. Much of the information was collected by Neal Parsons, a.k.a., "Neal the Trial Ban Breaker", and later corroborated by Frank Magazine, the contemporary Ottawa equivalent to the libelles of eighteenth-century Grub Street. A Montreal journalist for a local weekly newspaper, Hour, wrote about the episode in September, mentioning some of the more fantastic rumors circulating about the case on the newsgroup (Friedman).
It wasn't until November, however, that universities shut down the newsgroup on their Usenet feeds, upon advisement of a memo distributed to CA*net management by a federal government network manager. McGill University, under order of McGill Vice Principal for Planning and Resources Francois Tavenas, was the first university to suspend the newsgroup (Jacqmotte, Broadhurst). Like other universities, McGill was concerned that by carrying alt.fan.karla.homolka, they could be viewed as potentially distributing information about the trial in violation of the Kovacs ban. One month later, 15 other universities in Canada (including 11 in Ontario), the National Capital FreeNet in Ottawa, and one American university had also discontinued the newsgroup.
Ontario Attorney General Marion Boyd accused the media of engaging in a "feeding frenzy", seeking to profit from the lurid case ("Public's right to know..."). Amid a proliferation of foreign news reports on the Homolka case, including coverage in the British Sunday Mirror and Manchester Guardian, an article published by The Washington Post and reprinted in The Buffalo News and The Detroit Free Press, American television coverage on "A Current Affair", and Detroit area radio reports, the Canadian public was able--if they could procure the printed and broadcasted materials--to glean details of the Homolka case. A retired Ontario police office, Gordon Domm, was arrested for distributing copies of the Sunday Mirror. Residents of Southern Ontario streamed across the border to purchase or read copies of The Buffalo News. The Ottawa Sun reported that
"U.S. shopkeepers already stocked with double the normal number of papers called for more....Canadians waited outside B&B Cigar Store in Niagara Falls, New York, in the pre-dawn darkness and quickly bought up 120 copies. Owner Stan Stempien sold 50 cent photocopies until another 80 papers came. A few blocks away at the Wilson Farms store, more than 100 copies were cleared out by 10 am. More than half were purchased by Canadians. Fearing police would seize the papers at customs, Canadians read them in parking lots and parked cars" (Burnside; Cairns).
Canadian border officials turned back trucks that carried copies of The Detroit News that contained a story about the blackout. Detroit television stations who reported that they would provide details of the trial had their signals blacked out by some cable companies. And,
"a Buffalo disc jockey standing on the American side of the Peace Bridge used a loudspeaker to bellow out details from a Washington Post story ... 'Hear ye, hear ye.' screamed Darren McKee of WGRF, 'Let freedom ring out for all our brothers and sisters to the north'" ("Lid Blown Off...").
Several academic and public libraries, fearing they would be in violation of the publication ban, initially took off their shelves copies of newspaper articles, such as the one that appeared in The Washington Post, that covered the case. Later, under legal advice, McGill University, stating that "...it is virtually impossible for the library to monitor the content of each and every periodical and newspaper it receives every day" (Mercille), lifted the ban. Public libraries, including those in Halifax and Regina,also agreed to restore the U.S. newspapers that carried coverage of the Homolka trial.
An anonymous posting service, anon.penet.fi (residing in Finland) is specifically designed for anonymous postings to every Usenet newsgroup, and also provides capabilities for supporting anonymous remail as well. This service allows any mail messages sent to one's id at anon.penet.fi to get redirected to one's original and real e-mail address. One doesn't know the true identity of any user, unless he or she chooses to reveal their identity explicitly. Anonymous posting services are widely used for posting to the alt. hierarchy within Usenet; as Johan Helsingius, a.k.a. "Julf", the operator of the services writes: "And remember this is a service that some people (in groups such as alt.sexual.abuse.recovery) need. Please don't do anything stupid that would force me to close down the service. As I am running my own company, there is very little political pressure anyone can put on me, but if somebody starts using the system for criminal activities, the authorities might be able to order me to shut down the service. I don't particularly want to find out, however..." ([email protected]The Washington Post and Sunday Mirror, and the transcript from "A Current Affair".
Personal requests posted to various Usenet newsgroups was also a way for people to find out about the case, as well as through individuals offering to e-mail information to interested parties. One individual wrote: "I was very distraught when the government in Canada decided to place a ban on the recent Homolka trial. What disturbed me even more was that an American television program A Current Affair was allowed to air details of the trial in the United States while in Canada we were blacked out. My relatives in the United States just sent me copies of both of the Current Affair programs. I am willing to send copies of this program to anybody that is interested. Due to obvious reasons, I am posting this message anonymously. If you would like more information, please send mail to the anonymous address and I will send you more information" ([email protected]
Cross-posting requests for information or direct posts from alt.fan.karla.homolka to other Usenet newsgroups, such as to soc.culture.canada, alt.censorship, alt.journalism, and tor.general; reading Usenet news at other sites which hadn't banned the newsgroup; and using Gopher to find out its location, was a common practice. The University of Toronto's student newspaper, The Varsity, published a detailed guide on how to access the newsgroup "...to show how easy it is to get information on Internet even in a case where the information is so tightly censored", according to editor Simona Choise (Micelli).
Electronic databases could be used to access the full-text of newspaper articles; the Washington Post article was available through Dialog and Compuserve's Information Service and through AP wires. However, users of Infomart, a Southam-owned service, found the following message upon logging in to the system;
"Welcome to Informart Online. In order to honor the publication ban on coverage of the Karla Homolka trial, Infomart will not be giving customers access to stories on this subject from U.S. sources through its gateway to DataTimes. If you try to search or display these stories you will be dropped from the gateway back to Infomart" (see Roby).
The electronic environment raises many problems relative to controlling information and bypassing official channels. Is it even feasible to prevent access to offensive or potentially illegal newsgroups, given that networks such as Usenet are international in scope? Restricting access to such newsgroups will only create an underground network whereby different people outside the restricted zone simply copy the same files and propagate them locally. As well, since not all of the offensive or illegal material is centrally located, unless a policy is adopted of screening all newsgroups and postings (an absurd and impossible task!) the offensive or illegal material won't get snared.
How can one exercise jurisdictional control over network environments? Anne Branscomb dubs the peripatetic qualities of the Internet its "extraterritoriality" and suggests that global standardization of what constitutes acceptable conduct and use of data on networks will alleviate some of these quandaries. In the case of material posted on a BBS or Usenet which broaches local jurisdiction for obscenity, for instance, one is confronted with differing national legal definitions of criminality. In which country does one seek redress of grievances? Can one identify and then obtain jurisdiction over the criminal perpetrator? How can such laws be harmonized and administered globally? (Branscomb, 85).
The line between the public and private domain in networking environments is murky. In the academic context offensive or potentially illegal material on Usenet raises the issue of the public-private debate; for instance, there is the problem that the display or discourse of potentially illegal material is conducted on public conferences residing on mainframes which are university-owned. Should one recognize individual responsibility and control over message content, or implicate and absolve the network provider from liability on messages it allows to be published? In the university context, are students solely responsible for their speech and actions, or are system administrators (and potentially a whole chain of administrators) responsible for irresponsible conduct? IV. Print vs. Electronic Information: should the common carrier model apply to computer networks?
According to McGill legal counsel, reading the newsgroup would not be contravening the ban, but distributing the material to third parties "would constitute an act of publication which is prohibited". Since McGill, through the RISQ network, is the distributor of newsgroups throughout Quebec, they felt that alt.fan.karla.homolka, which "deliberately aims at breaking the ban" would leave the "University open to an argument that in so doing, it was actively engaged in an act of publication as this term is understood under the Criminal Code, which could differ from other statutory definitions of publication such as copyright law and others" (Mercille).
As Rodney Smolla has remarked, the impact of technological change on law and policy is not as rapid as the pace of modern communications technologies: "forms of communication are converging, collapsing the legal distinctions that once brought a semblance of order to free speech policies. For most of this century societies could draw lines of demarcation separating print media, broadcast media, and common law. New technologies, however, are rendering these divisions obsolete" (Smolla, 322).
How do we treat newsgroups--as publishers, distributors, or common carriers? Although Kovacs' ban restricted traditional print and broadcast media, are BBSs and Usenet exempt from this ruling? Should the common carrier model apply to computer networks? Common carriers in the communications industries, such as the telephone companies, are regulated by federal statutes, and in the U.S., are covered by the First Amendment provisions of free speech, and therefore not held liable for the content of the messages they transmit. Does a new, hybrid model need to be defined for computer networks? How can you regulate heresy, innuendo, wild and fabulous rantings on networks? Godwin remarks that the history of U.S. broadcast regulation demonstrates how difficult it is for new communications media to be accorded the same rights and privileges as traditional media which already enjoy these privileges. He believes that network communications should be granted the same rights of freedom of the press as articulated in the First Amendment's Press Clause, which extends the right to free expression to pamphlets and leaflets, as well as newspapers and periodicals (Godwin).
Definitions of speech have not kept up with technical currency. The technical characteristics of media--i.e., spectrum scarcity in broadcasting, have been closely linked with the social characteristics of the media; for instance, the prominence of television in our everyday cultural life in formulating laws and policies. However, in the case of computer networking, can we characterize the medium as being a "broadcast" medium?
A recent court ruling in the U.S. treated the operator of an electronic information system (EIS) as a distributor rather than as a publisher, in order to assess liability at the state libel law level. Cubby, Inc. v. Compuserve, Inc. also set an important precedent by ruling that the system operator or EIS owner could not reasonably be held liable for the content of the messages it carries, given the sheer volume and rapidity of the messages on computerized boards. Although there is no equivalent Canadian ruling, it is not inconceivable that the Cubby decision could be advised in setting a precedent here.
This legal advice is supported by national library association statements on censorship and intellectual freedom. The American Library Association's (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Committee defines censorship as
"The change in the access status of material, made by a governing authority or its representatives. Such changes include: exclusion, restriction, removal, or age/grade level changes" (ALA).
The Canadian Library Association (CLA) and Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Statements on Freedom of Expression also provide guidance here. The CLA Statement reads, in part:
"It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, libraries shall acquire and make available the widest variety of materials. Libraries should resist all efforts to limit the exercise of these responsibilities while recognizing the right of criticism by individuals and groups" (CLA).
The CARL Statement on Freedom of Expression reads, in part,
"research libraries shall acquire and make available, through purchase or resource sharing, the widest variety of materials that support the scholarly pursuits of their communities" (CARL).
However, a conundrum exists here: according to McGill legal counsel, the Washington Post article is allowed to be physically present in McGill libraries, while the electronic version of the article on Usenet is considered illegal, as it is equivalent to "publication". But, like most users, the process of accessing the article is a voluntary process for both the library patron and the Usenet reader. Would private ownership of the article on one's computer without intent to distribute be considered illegal? What if one sent the article to someone else, at their private request? Would that be considered illegal? What if someone xeroxed the same article from the newspaper available in the library and distributed that--would that be illegal?
"Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms...(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication",
but it is qualified by Section 1:
"The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society".
In the case of R .v Keegstra, the Court found that the section of the Criminal Code that Keegstra was convicted under (319(2), which states that willful promotion of hatred against any identifiable group is subject to an indictable offense) did violate the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Charter, but was nonetheless a permissible restriction because it adhered to the Section I principles for "reasonable limits".
How can different and often conflicting national laws regarding freedom of speech be harmonized in the global context, when technology knows no boundaries? Once again, we're left with a legal--and perhaps insurmountable enigma--that carries no easy resolution. It's also not inconceivable that any global resolutions could smack of subtle forms of "cultural imperalism".
Such unanticipated consequences, though, aren't a surprise to members of the Internet community, and particularly Usenet denizens. Usenet, "the user's network", is a raucous technology which respects no boundaries or borders, physical or mental. A diverse community of international users protects fiercely the notions of free and unfettered communication, and can hide anonymously behind a thick veneer of bandwidth. Stephenson's description of the "Internet" is felicitous to Usenet:
"Nearly all academic computers are on the Internet, so access is open to anyone having an account on such a machine, which is to say, any student who bothers. The Internet is, therefore, still very much a college town and shares much the same ambience as Cambridge, Iowa City, or Berkeley: a dysfunctional blend of liquored-up freshmen and polymorphously perverse deconstructionists. The politically correct atmosphere may help to explain the generally frosty stance toward humor exhibited on Usenet, where people either use it badly--at the level of toilet-stall grafitti, or categorically reject it" (Stephenson).
The upcoming "virtual library", where multi-media forms will mingle and inevitably proliferate, presents a challenge for information professionals with regard to the irresolute aspects of copyright and intellectual property. For our immediate concern, though, is the dilemma posed by the legal definition of computer newsgroups. Is Usenet a publisher or distributor? Should the common carrier model apply to computer networks? Should information on Usenet be accorded the same degree of academic freedom as is applied to books and materials in university libraries? Yes, the Homolka case, given the court-ordered ban, is extraordinary; but I anticipate that more cases will develop over censorship of material on Usenet newsgroups, and information professionals need to understand the technology and formulate their positions so that they can make a valuable contribution to these debates.
And lastly, what does the Homolka case tell us about access to information? Given the recent hypebole about the much vaunted "information superhighway" of the near future, are there any cautionary lessons we can learn here? Who was able to plunge through the Internet to locate the elusive alt.fan.karla.homolka? But, most importantly, what citizens were not able to access this material--and how can we remedy this discrepancy?
Brenner, Anita Susan. "Would Homolka Be Possible Under American Law?" (1993) [available in Well, Canada file]
Branscomb, Anne Wells. "Jurisdictional quandaries for global networks", in Global Networks: computers and international communication, ed. Linda M. Harasim. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press:83-103.
Burnside, Scott; Alan Cairns. "Cops seize Teale story at border". Ottawa Sun (November 29, 1993).
Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), Freedom of Expression in Research Libraries, 1986.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Constitutional Act, 1982. [available eff.org gopher: Canadian Charter--Full Text]
Cubby, Inc. v. CompuServe Inc., 776 F. Supp. 135 (S.D.N.Y.1991).
Canadian Library Association, Statement on Intellectual Freedom. Adopted 1974, amended 1983 and 1985.
Darnton, Robert. The Literary Underground of the Old Regime. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982.
Duncanson, John; Nick Pron. "Computerized bulletin boards abuzz with Homolka trial details". The Toronto Star (Saturday, July 31, 1993): A3.
Friedman, Matt. "Not fit for print?" Hour (September 16-22,1993):7.
Godwin, Mike. "New Frontiers: a visitor's guide". Index on Censorship 2 (1993):11-13.
Gooderham, Mary. "Homolka facts speed across data highway". Globe and Mail (December 2, 1993):A4.
Jacqmotte, Benoit; Michael Broadhurst. "Homolka newsgroup suspended". The McGill Tribune (November 16-22, 1993):8.
Lesser, Wendy. Pictures At An Execution: an inquiry into the subject of murder. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.
"Lid blown off ban", Toronto Star (December 2, 1993).
"Man arrested, not charged in Teale ban". Globe and Mail (November 20, 1993).
Mercille, Raynald, Legal Advisor. Memo to Ms. Frances Groen, Associate Director Public Service & Collections, (December 3, 1993). re: "Foreign press articles - Canadian Ban".
Micelli, Pat. "Censorship: It's ok to read about Homolka on computer, lawyers say". The McGill Daily (January 24, 1994):3.
Platiel, Rudy. "Lawyers argue over Homolka ban". Globe and Mail (December 2, 1993):A4.
"Public's right to know gains here, loses there". Globe and Mail (December 2, 1993):A1.
R. v. Bernardo Between Her Majesty The Queen, and Karla Bernardo also known as Karla Teale.(1993). O.J. No. 2047. Action No. 125/93. Ontario Court of Justice - General Division, St. Catharines, Ontario July 5, 1993.
[email protected][email protected]
Smolla, Rodney A. Free Speech in an Open Society. NY: Vintage Books, 1993.
Stephenson, Neal. "Smiley's People". The New Republic (September 13, 1993):26.
May 3 10 5:54 PM
May 4 10 7:30 PM
I realize how ignorant the general public is regarding the law; what I didn't realize is how much so regarding the pardons that can be granted to convicted pedophiles and murderers.
Surely pardons and monetary compensations should only be for the unfortunate people who have been in prison unjustly. The thought of Karla Homolka being granted such a thing is completely wrong. It makes our justice system seem like a joke. The murdered victims can't be brought back, nor can the pain and suffering of Mr. and Mrs. French and Mr. and Mrs. Mahaffy be taken away. Why should Homolka's chance at wiping her slate clean be an option?
May 4 10 7:36 PM
Editor’s Note: Karla Homolka is eligible to apply for a pardon in July.
The “deal with the devil” should have been negated as soon as it was discovered that not only had Karla Homolka lied, but she withheld critical evidence that she knew would incriminate her. For our government to have tried to convince us that other criminals would no longer give information for fear that their deals would not be honoured was ridiculous. Nobody believed that she got the sentence she deserved.
Part of the reason for that is there is no punishment on earth equal to the crimes she committed. In the criminal justice system, someone like Homolka is at the bottom of the totem pole right next to Paul. And just think, you and I as taxpayers paid for her to get a university degree so that she could have a better life. How many of our young people can't afford to get a post-secondary education? Is that fair?
A pardon for Homolka makes our justice system look like a joke. There are people in this country not allowed to travel to the U.S. because they were found with a marijuana cigarette on their person. To refuse them a pardon, makes it appear that their crime is much worse than hers.
Please let your member of parliament know how you feel. Do not let Homolka be given the right to do whatever she pleases, with no criminal record to follow her around. Not only should she not be given a pardon, she should be put on the registered sexual offenders list so that hopefully she will never be able to harm another child.
Ask yourself this … would you want her for your next-door neighbour?
May 27 10 4:54 AM
A pardon should not be an option for Homolka
I realize how ignorant the general public is regarding the law; what I didn't realize is how much so regarding the pardons that can be granted to convicted pedophiles and murderers.
Surely pardons and monetary compensations should only be for the unfortunate people who have been in prison unjustly. The thought of Karla Homolka being granted such a thing is completely wrong. It makes our justice system seem like a joke. The murdered victims can't be brought back, nor can the pain and suffering of Mr. and Mrs. French and Mr. and Mrs. Mahaffy be taken away. Why should Homolka's chance at wiping her slate clean be an option?
May 27 10 5:24 AM
Here is a little something interesting I pulled from the vaults when Karla Homolka went out and got herself knocked up. In my mind, if I was forced into a life of killing women, or if I went into it of my own volition, I would think it’s a good idea to be sure I never give birth. Just what would this woman tell the kid when she reads his bedtime stories? “I raped and murdered my sister- does that ever make you feel vulnerable, honey bunch?” Perhaps the justice system could have thought about the year span and ensured she not be released “just in time’ for the possibilities of biology to make her a mother. Hello? Or mandatory sterilization if release is desired.
The piece was called I Shop Therefore I Kill.
Our Lady of Woe is Me is the proud owner of this season’s hottest accessory: a brand new baby boy. I’m sure as hell not the only one outraged that convicted child-killer Karla Homolka is stockpiling kids of her own. After all, once she and Paul planned on raising a passel of brats to keep as sex slaves.
Tabloids have maintained that convicted child-killer Karla Homolka is a manipulative and calculating woman with a thirst for blood and gore. Flip the coin and you have the press championing her as a victimized, battered wife, submissive and compliant under master Paul Bernardo’s violence. Well, they thought that once, anyhow.
Neither of these images is true. Ms. Homolka’s psyche is simply an extreme example of the results of consumer culture. She is a byproduct of profit and production values. Remember the adage that money is the root of all evil? Karla is the real live plastic doll of the millennial marketplace. To her, there is no differentiation between human and object, between shopper and purchases. What upset her most was not finding that there was a ravaged, raped, abused carcass in her home, but that her husband and victim Leslie Mahoffy had used her favourite wine glasses. They were special glasses, after all, Karla explained in all seriousness. They were from Europe and she and Paul had rarely even used them together.
It’s the sign of the times. It’s Canadian Psycho. Like Patrick Bateman in Bret Easton Ellis’ troubling fiction, Karla has metamorphosed as a public symbol of consumer and consumed. Her concern is the blood on the carpet, not the blood. That’s what she expressed in police interviews- the carpet cost her good money and defined her as an owner of fine things. Some of the fine things in her possession just happened to be young girls.
Barry Keith Grant writes that Bateman’s violent sexuality manifested in American Psycho is thoroughly determined by consumer culture. “Bateman is nothing more or less than a complete product of popular culture,” he says. On one lucky occasion, Bateman’s victim is saved. It isn’t mercy on his part, though. The assassin himself is uncertain as to what saves his prey this time. Perhaps he doesn’t wish to ruin “this particular Alexander Julian suit by having the bitch spray blood all over it.”
The book was cause for concern to a great many parents, censors, and bookstores, causing it to be banned, pulled and popular. I argue that it is an important document of our times, despite its renderings of mutilations and dinner wines. It expertly juxtaposes the boredom of those who have or can have anything with the depletion of personality when the soul is replaced by a credit card, when substance is substituted by merchandise.
Every niche of our life is filled with the Master Dollar’s decree that we define ourselves by spending money, owning more things, disposing of those things, and buying more things. Advertising on television, in magazines and radio was not enough so new markets had to be devised. Corporate interests have bought out libraries, school buses, and privately owned cars, and have even invaded the privacy of the bathroom cubicle. As you empty your body of waste, you are bombarded with new things to consume and waste.
We are defined by how many dollars we amass. Our value is the collected total of products we have owned, discarded, and purchased again. To be whole, we are told to buy more clothes, more cosmetics. Brand counts: remember that Noxzema girls get noticed. Retail fashions change monthly or even weekly to ensure that you never quite reach Complete Person status. Headlines scream “I want”, “must have” “can’t live without, that you want it so bad it hurts. The magazines that promote these wish lists carry more ads than articles, but they cost you money. The few articles are usually based on new products.
Humans worldwide are seen a marketplace. Merchandise and planned obsolescence is the surrogate culture, replacing folk traditions or religious values. This is not in defense of moralizing political agendas to return to a specific view of God and family, but it needs to be recognized that where faith and friendship were once deemed sacred, where loyalty, honesty and integrity were once esteemed qualities, now Kleenex, Timex, Rolex and Kotex are our personal qualities.
“Strangled marketplace” is the economic and sociological jargon for a market that has reached maximum sales saturation. This is when a new and improved version must replace the old to make our products disposable. Items made of lesser quality guarantee the need for new products. Monopolies will also pitch their product aggressively to other countries, creating need among other cultures for useless North American products by maintaining the myth of American superiority. While we are berated for our imperfect bodies and lives and told to buy new ones, foreign countries are attacked with formula samples, given free to curious third world mothers who assume incorrectly that what Americans use is better for their children than their own milk. What the corporation achieves through this brilliant and horrific marketing ploy is about two years worth of new consumption. By the time the mom realizes her kids are lactose intolerant, as many cultures are, (or that the kids react poorly to heavily processed soy products), her own milk has dried up and it’s too late. She is now a consumer of a useless, harmful product that she cannot afford. But hey, you can only sell so much formula in North America.
What does all of this have to do with murder?
A disposable culture means disposable products. Then our body parts become dispensable. Plastic surgery is commonplace where previously it was only Hollywood scandal for the rich, beautiful and bored. Headlines scream “Safer silicone”. You can even remove unsightly female genitalia with labioplasty, trimming it away for a few thousand, because even your folds must be trim. Besides, traditional customs of castration and infibulation for some African and Muslim cultures gave moneymakers a great idea- why not charge for the service right here at home?
After disposable body parts, the next logical succession is of course, disposable bodies. In Karla’s case, she has fond memories of the bodies that she caressed and killed. “You get really attached to these people,” she explained with deadpan seriousness. She and Kristen French got to be real close in the days before French’s murder. They used to do girl things together, like try on makeup and look through catalogues.
She must also have fond memories of another possession of hers, younger sister Tammy. Karla gave Tammy to fiancée Paul as a Christmas gift- what better gift than a virgin version of yourself? Much tighter without ordering the surgery. They made a tape to remember how close she and Kar were. The sisters did everything together- they giggled over boys and went shopping. Now that Tammy is dead and Karla is in prison, her other sister Lori takes care of the coupon clipping and writes to Kar, keeping her informed on the latest Revlon colour schemes.
When Karla was taken back into the house of death to aid police with evidence in the conviction of Paul Bernardo, she didn’t remark on the horror that the rooms brought back to her. Instead, she calmly asked the police if any of her furniture was damaged during the investigation.
Karla herself was damaged merchandise. Paul nearly looked her over in favour of another girl who had a tighter pussy. However, Karla was hotter and happy to share and snare virgins, so that solved that problem. He beat her black and blue until her eye was hanging out of the socket. After all, ultimately she was his possession and prize, and she slept in the closet or ate his shit if he needed to be reminded of her love. But Karly Curls was not his victim- she was a willing doll product. Some speculate that Karla was the one who killed the girls, that Paul was merely a rapist, but we can’t be sure. What we do know is that Karla did not want her position threatened by these pretty young things, and she didn’t want another body. Things were out of hand and messing up the house. It was a close call when Mom almost went into the cellar for potatoes, and would have stumbled across a corpse during dinner preparations. Besides, the carnage was getting out of hand, and if another body were discovered, Kar’s daddy would NEVER sign that car loan agreement.
While we wait for the Karla Barbie to come out, we already have the comic book, the videos, the prison fashion layouts, and the descriptions of Paul’s impressive choice of olive-shaded suits. We even get the tunes- the Banned sang, “I wanna live like Karla and Paul, they had the sex, the money, they had it all.”
They did have it all, whatever it is, piles of it, mounds of carpeting, cars, clothing, acrylic and mousse- fancy glasses filled up all that space where a soul could have been. But hey, the thrill of blood and guts is so ‘70s. The ‘90s- and the zeros- are about disposability- new stuff, new babies, credit and debit, and throwing it all away.Now, to the latest here.
By TOM BRODBECK, Winnipeg Sun
Last Updated: May 13, 2010 7:43am
I’d hate to be one of the opposition MPs in Ottawa who allows schoolgirl killer Karla Homolka to get a pardon.
That could happen if opposition parties quash a Tory bill designed to tighten up Canada’s pardon system.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews tabled a bill that would make sex offenders and three-time repeat offenders ineligible for a pardon. It would also increase to 10 years from five the time required to be eligible for a pardon for those convicted of a serious offence.
Some opposition MPs have been quoted as saying they’re cool to the bill, siding with hug-a-thug groups like the John Howard Society.
The bill itself makes eminently good sense. It eliminates the possibility of a pedophile or any other sex offender from getting a pardon. That means their offences would never be removed from a police record check.
The bill, among other sensible proposed changes, would also make it impossible for a repeat offender convicted three times or more from getting a pardon.
Pardons, or “record suspensions” as they would be called under the bill, are meant to give cons a second chance.
Repeat offenders convicted three times or more have had their second chance and blew it.
Sex offenders should never get a second chance in terms of having their convictions removed from police record checks. Right now, pardoned sex offenders do show up on police record checks when the offender is applying for a position where kids or other vulnerable persons are present. But the record is hidden in all other cases for the pardoned offender.
Toews’ bill would change that, to ensure the records of sex offenders always show up on a police record check.
I don’t know how anybody could be opposed to that.
The bill would also require an offender to demonstrate how a record suspension would help rehabilitate them.
It wouldn’t just be automatic like it is now.
An offender would have to demonstrate to authorities how a record suspension would help them become law-abiding, productive members of society.
Sounds like common sense to me.
Meanwhile, Homolka is eligible for a pardon this year. If the bill passes, it would at least delay her eligibility. If the bill is quashed by the Liberals and the NDP, Homolka would be eligible for a pardon and they would be directly responsible for that.
How would you like to sell that at the doorstep during an election campaign?
“Hello voter, my party quashed a bill that would have prevented Karla Homolka from getting a pardon. How do you like me so far?”
What I don’t understand is why opposition MPs would want killers like Homolka or pedophiles like former hockey coach Graham James to get pardons.
Do they sympathize with them or do they just get brainwashed by the pro-criminal interest groups who oppose every proposed change designed to hold offenders more accountable for their actions?
Either way, they certainly would have some explaining to do if they did oppose the bill.
Hopefully, common sense will prevail for all members of Parliament and this proposed legislation will pass.
On December 23, 1990 15-year-old Tammy Homolka was at a Christmas party with her older sister Karla and her boyfriend Paul Bernardo. Little did she (or anybody besides Karla) know that he was who the newspapers had dubbed “the Scarborough Rapist”. With Karla’s approval he had been violently raping and humiliating women, usually after they had got off the bus. Karla was trying to please her “man” every way she could, and knew he was attracted to her little sister because she was a virgin. And so after all the relatives had left the festive party, they took Tammy down to the basement and with a sedative Karla had gotten from work they spiked her drinks and waited till she was unconscious, and then they raped her. Both of them. Karlas own sister. During the rape Tammy began choking on her own vomit, and died as a result.
On June 15, 1991 Paul Bernardo stalked and then kidnapped 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy and brought her to the couple’s home, since after their first “success” they had moved in together. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka repeatedly raped Leslie Mahaffy over a course of several days, videotaping many of the assaults. They eventually killed Leslie Mahaffy and cut her body into pieces, encased the pieces of her body in cement, and then threw the cement in a lake. On June 29 Mahaffy’s remains were found by a couple canoeing on the lake.
In some form of sick irony, this was also the day that Bernardo and Homolka were married.
On April 16, 1992, the couple kidnapped 15-year-old Kristen French. And for the next several days raped her, and videotaped their sick twisted acts. Just before Easter they killed Kristen and dumped her body in a ditch. While Kristen was missing, her fellow students, teachers and friends at Holy Cross Secondary School chose the Green Ribbon of Hope as the symbol for their search. Kristen’s school community also gave the name to the Green Ribbon of Hope Campaign, a national campaign continued to this day by Child Find Canada, governments, organizations and individuals to raise funds and awareness for missing children.
Karla only spent 12 years in Prison for her part in these kidnappings, rapes, and murders and was released in 2005. It has been reported she is now living somewhere in Ontario with a new husband and baby.
Karla Homolka is eligible for a Pardon.
A pardon allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens, to have their criminal record erased.
I know that this is going to open a very emotional debate, and let me be the first to voice my opinion. No way, not a chance in hell, should this piece of vile trash be granted a pardon. As far as I am concerned she should have been put to death, or the rest of her life behind bars. But to expunge her record now and let her live her life as if nothing had happened is an insult to those she raped, and were murdered.
May 27 10 6:26 AM
Jun 19 10 12:49 PM
Four federal parties struck a deal to deny Karla Homolka's request next month. The pardon would have sealed her conviction. She and her then-husband, Paul Bernardo, made world headlines for the rape and murder of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy.
Homolka received a lighter sentence in exchange for testifying against Bernardo, who's serving life in prison.
OTTAWA — Just hours before their summer break, MPs passed a bill Thursday to block Karla Homolka from winning a criminal pardon for her role in the sex slayings of two Ontario schoolgirls.
The parties passed an abridged version of proposed legislation, introduced in May, which would initially have ruled out pardons for sex offenders and expanded the waiting period before those convicted of serious crimes can apply.
The bill must still be passed by the Senate, which will continue to sit, to become law.
Fast-tracking the bill through the House of Commons required unanimous consent from all parties. The compromise bill bans serious offenders from applying for 10 years, up from the current five.
The new legislation does not bar offenders convicted of manslaughter — including Homolka — from applying for pardons, but it would allow the National Parole Board to reject applications that would bring "the administration of justice into disrepute."
When it becomes law, this part of the bill would effectively deny Homolka from ever being pardoned for her crimes.
As a compromise to ensure speedy passage, the government agreed to remove some sections of the original bill, but Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said all the abandoned proposals will be revived in the fall.
It struck out a section that rules out pardons for people convicted of three or more crimes. The compromise bill also dropped a proposal to rename pardons to "record suspensions" so as to not imply forgiveness.
The initial government legislation was introduced in May following revelations that sex offender Graham James, a former hockey coach, had received a pardon three years ago.
Homolka would have been eligible to apply for a pardon in July, five years after completing her 12-year sentence for her role in the sex slaying of Kristin French and Leslie Mahaffy. Now 40, her whereabouts is unknown.
The National Parole Board typically rejects about one per cent of completed applications each year because it has had little latitude to turn down offenders unless they had reoffended or been suspected of reoffending since completing their sentences.
Pardons do not forgive criminal records, but mask them so they do not surface in background checks.
Jun 30 10 6:48 PM
MONTREAL - The federal government intends to pursue measures this fall to make it more difficult for repeat offenders convicted of serious crimes – including sex offences and first- or second-degree murder – to obtain pardons after they’ve completed their sentences.
Conservative Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu served notice of that plan Monday afternoon in Montreal, before the Senate passed a bill Monday night that would stop Karla Homolka and others convicted of serious crimes from obtaining pardons.
Bill C-23 could receive royal assent as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday, Boisvenu said.
It imposes a variety of restrictions on how pardons for criminal offences are granted and gives much more discretionary power to the National Parole Board, while featuring a ban on the granting of any pardons that would or could “bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
The key deadline is July 5, Boisvenu added – when, he said, in the absence of passage and the bill taking effect, Homolka could qualify for a pardon.
Elements of the original bill dealing with blanket denial of pardons for repeat offenders in the most serious cases had been dropped during a rushed House of Commons compromise process, in order to meet the Homolka deadline. These will be resurrected after the summer break, Boisvenu vowed:
“We will be following through on our commitment ... to implement the remaining reforms” next fall, he said. Boisvenu added that he personally wants sexual predators to have no possibility of any pardon after two such convictions.
Nearly two decades ago, Homolka obtained a plea bargain on manslaughter charges under which she was sentenced to 12 years in jail for the sex slayings of two Ontario schoolgirls. Paul Bernardo, her then-husband, was convicted of first-degree murder in both deaths. He remains behind bars.
The legislation was introduced on a rush basis last month, following revelations that former hockey coach Graham James, a convicted sex offender, had received a pardon three years ago.
“The pardons approval rate suggests that the National Parole Board interprets the Criminal Records Act as requiring it to grant a pardon in almost all cases,” Boisvenu declared, standing at a lectern with a sign stating: “Eliminating pardons for serious crimes.”
Before he entered the Senate last January, Boisvenu headed a group advocating much more aggressive police investigation of disappearances. Julie Boisvenu, his daughter, was kidnapped, raped and murdered in June 2002.
May 10 12 6:09 AM
Jun 14 14 9:05 AM
Jun 14 14 7:14 PM
© 2017 Yuku. All rights reserved.