Stephen Harper believes he can't get on with the business of
running the country with his government's minority. His strategy is to
go to the polls, get a fresh mandate, roll up his sleeves and get busy.
Such a gamble, though, can cause collateral damage. People and hope hit by friendly fire.
That's the case with Bill C-393. Left behind on the table as it was inching along into the law books.
The bill was inspired by the murder of a rising star.
Andy Moffitt, a University of Ottawa engineering student, was
killed when he tried to calm a Christmastime disturbance at his local
bar. His efforts were answered by neighbourhood junkie and dealer,
Henry Danninger, who plunged his "bad-assed knife" into Andy's chest.
The circus that followed saw the killer get bail. While on
bail he broke the law repeatedly over a three-week period by throwing
buckets of human feces and urine at a neighbour's home and vehicle.
Sure, his bail was yanked. But he still received double credit for his
subsequent time in remand and incredibly even for the weeks he spent on
bail collecting and tossing excrement. Danninger arrived in prison,
clicked his heels and before he knew it was up for parole. His torment
of Andy's family continued as he jerked around with his parole hearing
dates, cancelling and rescheduling at the last minute. Andy's family
went on the offensive. They rallied the media. They rallied Parliament.
They wrote letters -- 450 of them.
MP Gord Brown took up the cause. The result was Bill C-393.
Among other things it would have created a mandatory sentence for
carrying a criminally concealed weapon. It would have required a
minimum sentence for manslaughter arising from the use of a knife. The
National Parole Board would have had the authority to prevent the abuse
caused when cons schedule then adjourn parole hearings in an effort to
frustrate victim participation. Andy's killer cancelled five times.
As important, it would have ended the current practice of
rewarding persons who were denied bail because of past criminality and
never again compensate a killer with credit for the time spent on bail
committing other crimes. It's hard to believe we need a law to enact
this bundle of common sense. Harder still to believe -- and consider
this as you make your way to the polls -- that heavyweight Liberal Ken
Dryden, the NDP's Pat "let's-get-rid-of-the-penny" Martin and others
voted against these proposals.
Despite opposition the bill was getting closer to Royal Assent but is now dead in its tracks.
Andy's mom, Paulette, who spearheaded her family's effort, wrote last week to express her disappointment.
"With all the news that an election is imminent, I feel
defeated -- I feel I failed Andy. We are close to losing something that
my family and I have fought for since Andy's murder -- Bill C-393 ...
When we saw Andy for the last time, laying in his coffin, we promised
him justice would prevail. We broke that promise to him ... We knew we
couldn't fix it for Andy ... In his memory we could make sure no other
victims or their families ever have to go through the hell we
experienced with the justice system ... Bill C-393 was one step closer
to justice. There is nothing else we can do now. Bill C-393 will die."
Friendly fire does indeed hurt.