Justice or Vengeance? How Canada Deals With Terrible Crimes

Justice or Vengeance? How Canada Deals With Terrible Crimes

Cruel and unusual, or just and fair? That was among the questions facing judges in two provinces before they sentenced two men on Friday for some of the most horrific recent crimes in Canada.

The previous Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper changed the Criminal Code to allow judges to impose consecutive sentences for murder. The sentence remains life. But judges can now effectively ensure that people who commit more than one murder will never leave jail alive by stacking up parole hearing periods in 25-year blocks.

Rob Nicholson, the Conservative justice minister, said the change would “send out the message that there are no discounts for multiple murderers in Canada anymore.”

In Quebec City on Friday, Superior Court Justice François Huot had a complex workaround to avoid the 25-year rule. He effectively amended the law and gave Mr. Bissonnette five concurrent life sentences with 25-year parole waiting periods. For the sixth conviction, the judge added 15 years, making the total waiting period 40 years.

According to the Department of Justice there have been 13 multiple murder cases that have led to consecutive sentences since 2011.

But debate and confusion will likely continue in court — unless or until the Supreme Court hears an appeal.

—The motivation of Bruce McArthur, who terrorized Toronto’s gay community through a series of killings, remained unknown as he headed off to prison.

—The case of Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six people at a Quebec City mosque, highlighted changes in how killers convicted of more than one first-degree murder are sentenced.

—The fast food empire that ate Canada began with a baker who consulted a ouiji board. But Ron Joyce, who died last month, was the power behind its success.

—Hockey teams can do without one of their skaters, in a pinch. But a goalie is a necessity — and Toronto’s surplus of amateur teams has led to a thriving market for rented net minders.

—A mysterious disease known as Havana Syndrome has affected dozens of American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Now the Canadians are suing over it.

—The collapse of an alternative currency exchange based in Nova Scotia and the apparent death of its founder have given new meaning to cryptocurrency.

—Quebec-born Stéphane Matteau scored one of the New York Rangers’ most famous goals 25 years ago. Much happened to Mr. Matteau afterward. Until recently, little of it was good.

—What’s happening inside Earth’s core? Whatever it is, it has sent the north magnetic pole sprinting away from Canada toward Siberia.

—In Opinion, Nicholas Kristof has high praise for Canada, although some Canadians may quibble with the framing of the compliments.

—“Boredom is something to experience rather than hastily swipe away.”

—“In the old days, you could get people jobs, take care of their problems, help with their daily life,” the last of New York’s old-time political bosses said just over a year before his recent death. “But you just can’t help anybody anymore. You can’t even take care of a jury notice.”

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