Advance warning -

Advance warning


The National Post reported on June 9, 2005 that Karla Homolka, due at the time to be paroled, hoped to one day receive a pardon—Ms. Homolka apparently said so to a Corrections Service psychologist in 2001, that psychologist’s report was then filed in a Quebec court in 2005. The Canadian Press followed with its own report on June 28, 2005. Ms. Homolka was released on July 4, 2005.

Seven months after that, Stephen Harper became prime minister.

And four years and two months after that, Mr. Harper decided that Ms. Homolka’s potential pardon was a cause for great concern.

Ms. Homolka will be eligible to apply for a pardon in July. Mr. Harper’s Public Safety Minister says his staff is working “very quickly” and reportedly hopes, at the latest, to have new legislation ready by the fall.


Advance warning

  1. Yeah but it sounds so darn tough on crime and good for Canada. And we all know that sounds and looks are all that matter.

  2. "Ms. Homolka will be eligible to apply for a pardon in July. Mr. Harper's Public Safety Minister says his staff is working “very quickly” and reportedly hopes, at the latest, to have new legislation ready by the fall."

    Unless Harper decides to prorogue again.

    • The two aren't mutually exclusive at all.

  3. Damn Liberals. Even when they are in opposition for years, they are still running the country, apparently.

    • You may not have noticed yet, but the Cons turned into the Liberals about 18 months ago.

  4. "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."

    Cons are in Office but not in power. If Cons wanted to make changed to justice system they could have. I hear lots of platitudes coming from Cons but I am still waiting for action from them. Greg is absolutely right about Libs still running the country even tho they are in opposition.

    • Cons have been in office more than four years, and have SAID they were conducting a probe into pardons YEARS ago. They are empty suits. They think sayin' is doin'!

      What are you saying with your comment? That Liberals love and support Homulka's bid for a pardon?

    • "Cons are in Office but not in power. If Cons wanted to make changed to justice system they could have."

      Well it sure doesn't help to keep introducing legislations only to kill them with repeated prorogations now, does it?

      • Exactly. Canada is run by liberal/Liberal institutions and Cons have done little to change the nature of The State.

        It is all talk, no action, from this bunch of Cons. I am willing to bet Bernier is gaining lots of attention from base at moment because he is one of few Cons who actually sound conservative. Con Ministers are enjoying accoutrements of power too much and not doing enough to change the nature of Canada.

        What is the point of being a PM/Minister if you have no legacy?

        • As I've mentioned before, if we're going to have the same bunch of crooks in anyway, let's at least put in the ones who know how to balance the budget.

    • I think Greg was being sarcastic, apparently

      • Dave knows what I am talking about. Unless he's being sarcastic as well.

  5. Every time the government gets credible information about governing, they act on it.

    • well, they SAY they are acting on it…

      • Key word: "Acting"

  6. This looks like a pretty tight corner within which to manufacture a crisis. I know they are loath to actually govern, but it's going to be difficult for the Conservatives to avoid passing legislation this time.

    Party strategists (and maybe even a couple of senior spokespersons) will need to burn the midnight oil to come up with some unacceptable riders they can add to the bill to create division.

    • Repealing the per-vote subsidy maybe?1

  7. The pardon isn't the root cause of the problem – it's lenient sentencing.

    And in Homolka's case even that might not be the root cause of the problem since the prosecutor cut a ridiculous plea-bargain in order to find the tapes that should have been found without help.

    But then again, even that isn't the root of the problem, since convicting someone beyond a reasonable doubt shouldn't require video recordings of the criminal act. Poor education has led to juries that sometimes don't understand the difference between "reasonable" and "conceivable".

    • Good comment….While the rest of the folks here, including the host, treat this section as just another Lib-Blog, your comment deals with the problem and possible solution to this aspect of sentencing.
      The other comments don`t deal with any possible solutions—just a continuation of their never-ending bitchfest.

      • Isn't that exactly what Harper's doing, too? I mean if you want a man of action, you'd be better off with a dog than fear-and-prorogue Harper.

        • I would suggest that " if you want a man of action " then you do what you can to ensure Harper receives a majority in the next election.

          It`s not very accurate to judge the actions of a PM after 4 years of a minority gov`t compared with 13 years of a PM with a majority. Chretien had the numbers to pass legislation at any time during those 13 years. Harper doesn`t have the numbers…….. yet.

          • Yes, let's not judge the man by his actions. That would be so unfair.

          • Ah yes, the ol' "he'd actually do something good and significant instead of screwing up all the time… if only he had a majority" ruse.

            Nothing about a majority that forced him to decide only minor changes to the pardon system were necessary after an examination of the pardon system.

            For that matter, nothing about a minority government forced him to shatter all prior spending records (twice) before the recession, to put us into deficit before the recession, to break his own campaign election rules, to break his promise to make all votes except budgets matters of confidence, to prorogue and throw out almost his entire crime legislation, to break his "made in Canada" climate change promise, etc etc etc.

            Face it, with such a weak opposition over 4 years, he essentially has had a majority and has been able to do whatever he wants pretty much. The incompetence and preference for optics over policy by this government is all you get, even with a majority.

          • So it's the George Costanza 'do the opposite' defence? Wow, what evil dastardly things Lester B. Pearson could have got away with if only his bowties hadn't prevented him from squirreling out a majority.
            Perfect CON logic…

      • Wait…you're actually bitching about other people's bitching?

        Aren't you afraid the Giant Rock of Cognitive Dissonance might fall and squash you?

        • No, It just gets so tiresome having one Liberal follow another whining about the motives and actions of the government.

          Oh wait, That`s Question Period I`m thinking off.

          • Ah, I get it. You bitch about their bitching.

            But they bitched first, so your bitching about their bitching is justified because they bitched first?

            Wow…who knew the "Adscam Talking Point" had such long legs?

          • So, How do you feel about the gov`t initative to introduce legislation that would tighten the pardon process, specifically in regards to sex offenders ?

          • How do you feel about the gov`t initative to introduce legislation that would tighten the pardon process, specifically in regards to sex offenders.

            I wish they'd brought it up 4 years ago when they were reviewing the pardon process specifically in regards to sex offenders, instead of coming out with it in a rushed panic just in time to maybe get it passed by September, because they apparently just found out (5 years after it was first discussed in the National Post and several other papers) that Karla Homolka is about to become eligible for a pardon in July.

          • Well, I'm really not sure what the use of this legislation is, if we're talking about sex offenders. Even with a pardon, sex-offenders will still raise a flag should they apply for a position/volunteer job dealing with kids/vulnerable populations.

            A pardon doesn't really have a lot of value. In the case of Holmolka, a pardon isn't the issue. A really, really bad deal made by the crown prosecutor and crappy evidence gathering by the Niagara cops is the issue. I'd be much happier were she a classified dangerous offender in jail for all time, amen. But that opportunity has passed, and this pardon legislation seems to be pointless.

          • I wish they had have introduced it 4 years ago as well. It would have sent out a clear message that there`s a new captain of the ship and things are going to be a little tougher in the Justice Industry.
            Maybe that`s why it wasn`t introduced….the new gov`t didn`t want to appear to be too reactionary at the beginning—picking a fight with judges, and parole boards, and social workers, not to mention 3 opp. parties. A minority gov`t trying to be a majority gov`t sometimes tries so hard to not alienate any particular group that they lose their focus on the reason why they are there in the first place.
            But that`s the nature of minority gov`ts. Any changes to sentencing, parole and pardons will have to be acheived with baby steps.

          • "Baby steps" being a euphemism for "do nothing at all for four years and then panic and try to do everything at once"

          • Name one single piece of crime legislation that Harper introduced and allowed MPs to vote on (i.e. didn't prorogue or just not brought up for a vote as he has done) that the Liberal Party hasn't voted for.

            I thought conservatives believed in taking responsibility for their actions (or lack thereof) and not for passing the buck all the time. That's what they keep telling us at any rate.

          • Hey guys, I`m just trying to offer up suggestions as to why Harper wasn`t more aggressive in his crime legislation earlier in his gov`t. It`s not very productive of you to continue to use words like screwing up, and passing the buck, and coward, and foot in mouth, etc.
            The fact is he is leading a minority gov`t with no logical ally in the other 3 parties. That has to be the overriding concern if he is ever going to govern the way he would like. He saw what happened to Clark`s minority gov`t in 1989, he saw the opp. force him to call a useless Public Inquiry on Mulroney, and he saw the 3 opp. parties threaten a coalition when he proposed a reduction in gov`t subsidy to politicial parties.
            If you want him to move more aggressively on crime leg. then convince one of the other 3 parties to support him.

          • Honestly, I think he'd be more likely to pass harder hitting legislation if he didn't muddy the water with, even by your own admission, pretty pointless softball stuff like this pardon thing..

            These kind of grandstanding tactics take away credibility when he proposes reasonable legislation. The recent proposed changes to to clear up the delays in refugee laws, for instance. Good legislation, supported by all, yet drowned out with the tough on crime nonsense.

          • And that's the rub. Harper will take even something like the issue of parole for violent offenders, which I'd imagine 85% of MPs could find agreement on with almost no effort whatsoever, and turn it in to another opportunity to attack and vilify his supposedly "soft on crime" opponents and stir up divisions in the House. I'm afraid the Tories have convinced me after years in office that when it comes to law and order they're much more concerned about their ability to accuse their opponents of being soft on crime at any opportunity then they are about actually hardening our criminal justice system.

      • Thanks. I've never seen the benefit of using every possible issue to throw out another boring variation on "Harper is bad" or "I hope Harper screws up".

        Particularly in this case: my heart goes out to the parents of Bernardo/Homolka's victims knowing that their daughters are gone forever while Homolka not only goes free but gets pardoned. I suspect that is what is motivating the CPC here – but they are going to have to tread carefully not only politically because of their minority status, but also in principle. Laws fashioned for particular cases are bad laws, and in this particular case there are larger issues at stake than seeing a particularly loathsome crime justly punished.

        • That's exactly the problem here. I doubt that many people would be against reforming the pardon system, if the reforms make sense. It does seem a little thin at present, as an editorial in today's Globe and Mail points out. But it is dishonest and misleading to present the case for reform as an up or down vote on Karla Homolka.

        • "Laws fashioned for particular cases are bad laws, and in this particular case there are larger issues at stake than seeing an especially loathsome crime justly punished."

          And so, based on your choice of prevailing Harper theories (good/evil, chessmaster/idiot, something of your own) why do you think Harper said what he did? I have trouble imagining that he said something like that by mistake.

  8. So the Conservatives have sat on their hands on this issue for 5 years? And they want to pass the buck on responsibility? Having already considered and rejected bigger changes?

    Do we have a government or tetherball in Parliament?

    • Kinda like the reapeal of the Free Trade Agreement or living up to the original Kyoto Accord as originally promised by the Libs to name a few?
      Those in glass houses and all…………….

      • F**k that kind of juvenile response bothers me.

        It's OK if the government is full of bumbling idiots that doesn't know the difference between good government and broken promises and that make a mockery of accountability and POGG, because at some point in the past the other guys did some stupid stuff too?

        Sorry, bud, but my house is made of bricks and mortar and, as a Canadian citizen, I am entitled to at least a halfway decent government. Not this pile-o-crapola.

  9. "And four years and two months after that, Mr. Harper decided that Ms. Homolka's potential pardon was a cause for great concern."

    He's just wagging the dog. When all else fails, pounce on the criminals. That's the M.O. We've seen this movie before.

  10. Dimitri Soudas is probably recycling talking points from before Harper was PM.

    • That's how shallow this latest attempt at fearmongering is: these weren't even talking points when the Conservatives looked closely at the issue before and rejected doing anything significant.

      • Exactly.

        That's why Dimitri has to use talking points from BEFORE Harper was PM. That's how far back one needs to go to find a Tory talking point that suggests that this all might be a problem (which is important, because soon people are going to find some Tory quotes from the time around the 2006 review, and that's BOUND to be a problem for the Tories).

        I can see the attack ad now (ed's note: not really). The Harper Tories. They were FOR Karla Homolka becoming eligible for a pardon in July of 2010 before they were against it.

  11. This sound stupid, so it fits perfectly within the Conservatives stupid approach to justice. And since a recent poll showed that their stupid approach is winning support from uneducated and ill-informed people, it's all working well for Harper. His success depends on the uneducated and ill-informed demographic, and he is delivering stupid policies especially for them.

    • "This sound stupid"
      Yes I agree! STOOPID!

      • You really don't have lot of tolerance for inadvertently dropped 's'-es, do you? Yet, oddly enough, the well of tolerance for cynical, dog-whistled grandstanding and obviated legislative opportunism never runs dry.

  12. In related news, the price of tea in China is about 15 yuan for 100 grams.

  13. It's not like a pardon is going to help Karla Homolka. Everyone knows who she is and what she did.

    That said, I'm not sure how someone can be pardoned for manslaughter. I understand petty theft and minor assaults. But manslaughter seems like something you should have on your record for life.

    • Like anything, it depends on the circumstances. Each case should be looked at on its individual merits. Sometimes there are some pretty disturbing end results – such as James getting pardoned – but IMO, that's better than having the government mettle in an area of judicial decision making. I'll be interested too see how the Conservatives go after this issue. I don't think I can explicitly say I'll oppose their reforms, I do think there's ample room to reform here, but I just don't think it can be a blanket decision that crimes X, Y AND Z cannot be pardoned.

      • Are you perchance suggesting that government is not the best solution to many problems because (gasp) it is a one-size-fits-all strategy in which those farthest removed from the situation make the decisions?

        • That would seem to be the attitude the Harper government took four years ago when they looked at all of this and REJECTED major reforms to the pardon system. However, I imagine that for Pardon Review 2.0 they'll be tasking a different group of Tories to look into the pardon system this time, so they're bound to come up with a different result, one which I imagine will be eliminating much of the leeway given to those closest to the situation to make decisions.

          • It is possible that they'll let their emotions get the better of them in this case.

            It's worth noting, however, that the Left tends to favour large government solutions to problems in nearly all cases…the notable exception being cases in which the government solution in question would be tougher on criminals.

          • Oh, I think it's almost GUARANTEED that they'll let their emotions get the better of them. That's the whole point. If this wasn't about emotions and rhetoric I really don't think the Tories would be basically proclaiming publicly that their 2006 review of the pardon process was a waste of time that accomplished nothing.

            The quiet review of 2006 looked at everything and came to conclusion X. Now that the government has realized that they can throw around the names of sex offenders and murderers and use this issue to their political advantage, the decidedly NOT quiet review we're all about to see is, imho GUARANTEED to come to pretty much the exact opposite conclusion. It's worth noting that the Right tends to favour reflective, well thought out and logical policy formulation, the notable exception being cases in which anyone's looking (in which case, the Right's loathe to do anything that would be tougher on criminals that doesn't allow them to froth at the mouth for six months about how tough on criminals they want to be). For the Tories, the only thing better than passing strong law and order legislation is NOT passing strong law and order legislation, so you can keep complaining about it on the stump.

            Trust me. This is ALL about emotion now, and that's entirely the Tory plan. They're going to rush to get some legislation together by the Fall, but if it takes longer, so much the better. Never let it be said that this government waited until the Opposition was interfering with their agenda to complain that the Opposition was interfering with their agenda. This isn't about stopping Karla Homolka from becoming eligible for a pardon, this is about trying to fool the electorate into thinking that the Tories are the only party in the country not actively working to help Karla Homolka get a pardon.

          • It's plausible, but there are other equally plausible theories. It would certainly be disappointing if yours turns out to be correct.

    • It's not like a pardon is going to help Karla Homolka .

      More importantly, it's not as though Karla Homolka is guaranteed a pardon either. I think she may even have a pretty tough time under the current lax (though Tory-approved) system.

      • She's in Bermuda, and could care less. Really, I wish I were kidding.

  14. It would be nice if Harper admitted that his government can take a good share of the blame for the pardon situation. The Conservatives certainly had ample opportunity to change the status quo on pardons in Canada. It's getting a little tiresome having to filter through Harper's lies all the time…

  15. Uhmmm.. wouldn't trying to pass legislation based on a specific person open the government wide up to a charter case? In other words, by putting this out there like this, has Harper shot himself in the foot.. again? Or at the very least that he's gone and put his foot in his mouth?

    Or.. if I'm very lucky.. both?

    • No he's even stupider than that.

      He's saying that they have to move quickly because Karla Homolka will be applying for a pardon, but there is no chance that the legislation will pass before she is granted one or rejected.

  16. you missed a relevant point in your choronology Aaron. At some point between becoming the PM, and developing grave concern, Steve Harper's government reviewed the pardon system and deemed it acceptable.

  17. Wow. Ample faux outrage over Harper behaving like a politician who is verbalizing — gasp — politically correct horror that Karla-darling might earn anything but ten minutes alone in a room with the fathers of her victims (save perhaps the father of her late sister). And it's all fun and games to pile on the PM, but would anyone — I almost feel silly suggesting this — like to actually discuss the POLICY as interested citizens?

    What I did not see in the comments above: Maybe, net, this country is best served by the pardon system as we currently have it. Maybe people who have served their sentences and are eager to make something of their lives contribute more to our society when pardoned than when forced to wear a "discriminate against me" sandwich board everywhere they go.

    The closest I see to this notion is G's"individual cases make lousy law" theme, and he is absolutely correct. Anyone who can tear away from Harper's carcass of credibility is welcome to share their thoughts.

  18. "obviated legislative opportunism "

    Damnit, that's just fabulous!