LEGISLATION PROVIDING TOUGHER SENTENCES
FOR MURDERERS COMES INTO FORCE

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OTTAWA, December 1, 2011 – The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Robert Goguen, M.P. for Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, announced that as of December 2nd, two Acts which provide tougher sentences for murderers will have come into force. The Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act ensures that multiple murderers serve their parole ineligibility periods one after another. An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act (originally called the Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act) effectively repeals the "faint-hope clause" that allowed murderers to obtain early parole.

"These two pieces of legislation are further examples of our Government's commitment to keeping our streets and communities safe and ensuring truth in sentencing," said Minister Nicholson. "Canadians want to know that criminals are held accountable for their crimes. Making multiple murderers serve their parole ineligibility periods one after another, and effectively repealing the faint hope clause will do just that."

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act

Under the previous system, criminals convicted of multiple murders served their parole ineligibility periods concurrently, meaning that they were eligible to apply for parole after just one period ranging from 10 to 25 years, depending on their sentence. The Act to end sentence discounts allows judges to impose consecutive parole ineligibility periods of 25 years for each victim on individuals convicted of more than one first- or second-degree murder. This would mean that convicted multiple murderers would need to serve a significantly longer overall period in custody before they were eligible to apply for parole.

"Ending sentence discounts for multiple murderers acknowledges the value of each life taken," said Mr. Goguen. "Our Government is standing up for victims of crime and their families by making sure that criminals receive sentences that reflect the seriousness of their crimes."

First-degree murder and two categories of second-degree murder carry a mandatory life sentence with no eligibility for parole for 25 years. The remaining categories of second-degree murder carry a mandatory life sentence with no eligibility for parole for a minimum of 10 years up to a maximum of 25 years.

Repealing the "faint-hope clause"

The Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act ensures that criminals who commit first-degree murder on or after tomorrow's date are not eligible for parole until they serve the full 25 years of their sentence. Similarly, offenders serving life imprisonment for second-degree murder are no longer eligible for parole until their parole ineligibility period is served, which could be up to 25 years.

"Families of victims should not have to relive their losses by attending multiple early parole eligibility hearings," said Minister Nicholson. "This Act puts the needs of law-abiding citizens ahead of criminals, and it spares the victimized from continually reliving their losses."

Offenders who commit murder on or after tomorrow's date will no longer be able to apply to be eligible for early parole under the faint-hope regime. Those who are currently serving their life sentence or awaiting sentence will face tougher rules when they apply.

An online version of the legislation is available at www.parl.gc.ca

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