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Commissioner to release report on Paul Bernardo’s prison transfer

Correctional Service of Canada Commissioner Anne Kelly is expected to report today on her office's probe of serial killer Paul Bernardo's controversial prison transfer.

Victims' families say they weren't given enough warning of the serial killer's transfer to medium security

Details of Bernardo transfer review released

7 minutes ago

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Correctional Services Canada Commissioner Anne Kelly releases the results of a review into the controversial Paul Bernardo prison transfer.

Correctional Service of Canada Commissioner Anne Kelly is expected to report today on her office's probe of serial killer Paul Bernardo's controversial prison transfer.

Bernardo is a dangerous offender serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy in the early 1990s near St. Catherines, Ont. He was also found guilty of the manslaughter and sexual assault of his 15-year-old sister-in-law Tammy Homolka.

Bernardo was quietly transferred on May 29 from a high-security prison in Ontario to a medium-security prison in Quebec. Experts say the move means Bernardo might not send as much time in his cell and could associate with other inmates and attend group therapy sessions. They've also said the transfer does not elevate his escape risk.

In response to public outrage, Kelly's department in June tasked a three-person review committee with determining if Bernardo's transfer was appropriate, if victims were given enough consideration and if all policies and rules were followed.

The panel includes a policy specialist, a former police officer and a member of a citizen's committee that advises the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). The CSC said that, "due to the sensitive nature of the file," it wouldn't share their names.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday he looks forward to reading the review's conclusions.

"Our thoughts have to turn first to the French and Mahaffy families, who continue to live the loss of their daughters so many years ago that still hurts deeply today," he said. "I think the entire country is still reeling from the anguish of these terrible, terrible acts. That's the lens with which we have to go through all these processes."

WATCH/ Trudeau says there are 'lessons' to learn from Bernardo transfer debacle

Trudeau says there are 'lessons' to learn from Bernardo transfer debacle

1 hour ago

Duration 1:14

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will be following up on lessons learned from the controversial Paul Bernardo prison transfer.

Victims' families said they were shocked that Kelly's department only notified them of Bernardo's transfer the morning of May 29 – the day he was transferred.

The families' lawyer, Tim Danson, has said they should have been warned earlier and should have been part of the discussion before the decision was made.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has come under fire over his handling of the file, which led the Conservatives to call for his resignation.

In June, Mendicino called Bernardo's transfer "shocking and incomprehensible." CBC News later revealed that Mendicino's office was first notified of the transfer three months in advance, and again days before it happened.

WATCH/ Mendicino sidesteps question about Bernardo transfer

Marco Mendocino sidesteps questions about Bernardo transfer

1 month ago

Duration 2:31

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendocino avoided questions from reporters on why he was not told about the prison transfer of serial killer Paul Bernardo and whether anyone would be held accountable. He also rejected continued calls to resign from opposition MPs.

Mendicino has maintained his office failed to tell him of Bernardo's transfer before it was completed on May 29. The minister said last month he's taken "corrective actions internally" and has told his staff that he should have been briefed earlier.

When asked if he still has confidence in Mendicino and if he handled the file appropriately, Trudeau first sidestepped the question before saying he has confidence in his cabinet.

"I have an amazing team in Ottawa and an amazing group of MPs right across the country who are committed to serving their country every single day, and anyone in my cabinet by definition has my confidence," said Trudeau.

WATCH/Poilieve asks if Trudeau will fire 'incompetent' public safety minister over Bernardo transfer

Poilievre asks if Trudeau will fire 'incompetent' public safety minister over Bernardo transfer

29 days ago

Duration 1:59

Asked repeatedly by Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre whether he will keep Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino in his cabinet position after the minister’s handling of the prison transfer of Paul Bernardo, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says ‘being there and supporting victims is always top of mind for this government.’

Mendicino last month asked for a ministerial order making it mandatory to notify the minister of public safety and victims' families before a high-profile prison transfer.

For more than a decade, the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime has been calling on the Correctional Service of Canada to notify victims of prison transfers in advance and allow them to share their concerns before the decision is made.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Burke

Senior reporter

Ashley Burke is a senior reporter with the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa who focuses on enterprise journalism for television, radio and digital platforms. She was recognized with the Charles Lynch Award and was a finalist for the Michener Award for her exclusive reporting on the toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. She has also uncovered rampant allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military involving senior leaders. You can reach her confidentially by email: ashley.burke@cbc.ca or https://www.cbc.ca/securedrop/

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