Time for Canada's 'monsters' to pay the ultimate price
Last week’s sentencing of an Ontario man for the vicious sexual assault and murder of an eight-year-old girl has once again raised the question of whether the ultimate penalty for such crimes currently allowed under Canadian law adequately condemns such criminals.
And although the crimes in this case occurred in another part of Canada, residents of West Central Alberta obviously also have a vested interest in having a criminal law that provides protection for society’s most vulnerable citizens, its children and other young people.
Michael Rafferty, who abducted and later killed schoolgirl Victoria Stafford in April 2009, was sentenced to the maximum penalty currently allowed under Canadian law: 25 years in prison before being eligible for parole.
“You, sir, are a monster,” Justice Thomas Heeney told Rafferty in passing sentence. “You have snuffed out the life of a beautiful, talented, vivacious little girl in the trustful innocence of childhood.”
Although sentenced to 25 years, Rafferty will actually be able to apply for release under the so-called ‘faint-hope’ clause after serving only 15 years – that is, in 2027, when Victoria Stafford would have been 23 years old.
Although Rafferty was handed the maximum penalty allowed under Canadian law, the question remains: Is 25 years in prison really a fitting penalty for such a grave and terrible crime?
And a second related question is, has the public been adequately protected by having Rafferty locked up and allowed to simply wait out his time until he can apply for release or until he manages to escape?
To both questions the answer is no.
The bottom line is that, for many, many Canadians, the only adequate and fitting penalty for criminals such as Michael Rafferty is death.
Yet the Harper Tories, with their comfortable majority in the House of Commons, have steadfastly refused to reopen the capital punishment debate. What is behind this puzzling inaction remains anyone’s guess.
The recent death of child killer Clifford Olsen in prison for crimes he committed decades ago finally brought an end to his horrific story of child sexual assault and murder.
Yet last week’s sentencing of Michael Rafferty points to the fact that very little has changed with Canadian sentencing laws over all those years – Canadian child killers continue to live out their lives in relative safety and comfort while their victims’ families get nothing but grief and heartbreak.
Calls for Canada to bring back capital punishment have been made to the Harper government many, many times over the past decade. Perhaps it’s time for Tory MPs to start listening?