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View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-02-04 12:05 [p.884]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand today and speak to such an important matter. Today's motion is extremely important. It is calling for justice for Marylène Levesque.
I will be asking for justice for many victims of crime and violence as it pertains to my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. If we cannot be the voice for victims of violence and crime, who will be? In many cases their voices are silenced, as in the case of Marylène Levesque.
I have stood in this House time and again over the last five years and talked about cases such as Canada's youngest serial killer, Cody Legebokoff, who heinously murdered four young women in my riding: Jill Stuchenko, Cynthia Maas, Loren Leslie and Natasha Montgomery. Sadly, in the previous Parliament we would see the minister stand up and merely pay lip service.
I have been listening to this debate today and I am heartened to hear words about doing a full investigation into the incident of the heinous murder of Marylène Levesque.
Over the last five years, the previous minister could not even say the word “murder”. It was a bad practice. How far have we fallen when discussing murder becomes a bad practice?
We have seen a convicted terrorist, one who waged war against Canadians and American soldiers, shamefully paid $10 million.
We have seen a man who murdered an off-duty police officer in Nova Scotia claim he suffered from PTSD from committing that murder. He was then catapulted to the front of the line to receive services before our first responders, military members and veterans, with little action from our colleagues across the way.
Unfortunately, my riding of Cariboo—Prince George is not immune to this inaction. As I mentioned, Cody Legebokoff, who is Canada's youngest serial killer, brutally murdered four young women in 2009 and 2010. I will say their names again, because their names should be repeated time and again. They are Natasha Montgomery, Jill Stuchenko, Cynthia Maas and, Mr. Legebokoff's final victim, Loren Leslie, who was just 15.
He was convicted on all four counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years. However, what we found out early last year was that he was transferred from a maximum-security prison to a medium-security prison just up the road from here. The Correctional Service of Canada's own words were that the transfer and redesignation of some of our most serious criminals is not an exact science.
The case we have before us today is about Marylène Levesque, the Parole Board and the instructions the parole officer gave her murderer. That is what leads us to the cause of our concern with Cody Legebokoff being transferred from a maximum-security to a medium-security prison. The families are wondering what is next. Will Cody Legebokoff be walking the streets?
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett decided that, given the sexual assaults committed as part of the murders and Legebokoff's apparent degradation of the victims' bodies, he was adding him to the national sex offender registry. In his decision to add Legebokoff to the national sex offender registry, Justice Parrett said that Legebokoff “lacks any shred of empathy or remorse” and “he should never be allowed to walk among us again.”
The remains of one of his victims, Natasha Montgomery, have never been found. Mr. Legebokoff still continues to negotiate and uses that as a bargaining chip with the families in an effort to get favourable treatment while in prison.
Brendan Fitzpatrick was the RCMP E Division major crime section superintendent in charge of operations during Mr. Legebokoff’s murder spree.
Mr. Fitzpatrick called it “absolutely unconscionable” that Cody Legebokoff was transferred from a maximum-security prison to medium-security prison.
He wrote to me early last year, and in his letter to me he said, “On behalf of all of Mr. Legebokoff’s victims, their surviving families and the investigators whose blood sweat and tears went into the arrest and conviction of this individual, I reach out to you to bring this issue to the public’s attention and demand answers of the Public Safety portfolio why this convicted killer is being given this generous benefit.”
We challenged the minister of the day to please look into this. Again, Mr. Speaker, I stand before you and I challenge the minister of this day to look into this case, just as he has pledged to look into Marylène Levesque's case.
The government needs to account for why the victims' families were not consulted and why the police had no input into this placement. It needs to account for why the youngest serial murderer in Canadian history is provided the luxury of a new, less secure environment.
Another case that is just as recent is that of Fribjon Bjornson. Fribjon Bjornson was a young man who had just come in from a logging camp, cashed his cheque, went to party with some of his friends, as many do on Friday evenings and weekends, and ended up being murdered. He was decapitated. One of his murderers was James David Junior Charlie, and his first-degree murder conviction was recently overturned by B.C.'s highest court, citing an error by the trial judge.
Mrs. Bjornson is a friend of ours. She told me the whole family is devastated. Once again, victims' families are being victimized over and over again throughout the process. Where are the voices for the victims? Who is standing up for the victims?
Mrs. Bjornson told me that they knew there would be an appeal as there always is unless a plea deal is given. That is one of the reasons they agreed when a plea deal was offered to Wesley Duncan and Jesse Bird. They pleaded guilty to second-degree murder after hearing what happened to Frib during James Charlie's trial. Mrs. Bjornson was certain they would have been found guilty of first-degree murder.
She went on to say that as parents, waiting six years to find out the story is cruel and unusual punishment. Now eight years later, and this is just this past fall, they are faced with the dilemma of having to go through the whole trial again.
This government, and any government, needs to do more for victims and their families. Sadly, we just continue to get lip service.
We saw this in the case of young Tori Stafford when her murderer was given access to a healing lodge. I will go back and say this again: Healing lodges were not on trial there. It is the fact that a convicted murderer, an offender of one of society's most heinous crimes, essentially was given a free pass to come and go as she pleased in this type of institution.
I started off by saying that I am heartened to hear some of the language from across the way, in terms of the parliamentary secretary and the minister saying that they are going to investigate this to its fullest extent. I would offer that the two cases I brought up from Prince George also deserve a new set of eyes on their cases and a renewed investigation. I would implore our colleagues across the way to do more than just lip service. I hope that their words are true.
Sadly, what we have seen over the course of the previous four years and up to this point has really just been lip service. The victims and their families deserve better. We can always do better. If we lead with our hearts and put ourselves in the place of the victims' families, the first responders and those who do the investigations, we will always lead by putting our best foot forward.
I would challenge our colleagues across the way to do that. I know my colleagues in opposition are here to help wherever we can.
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