Correctional Service Canada (CSC) will reveal Thursday the outcome of its review regarding the controversial prison transfer of notorious murderer and rapist Paul Bernardo.
CSC Commissioner Anne Kelly will present the results of the review at a news conference scheduled for 1:45 p.m. Eastern in Ottawa. She will be joined by France Gratton, assistant commissioner of correctional operations and programs, and Kirstan Gagnon, assistant commissioner of communications and engagement.
Globalnews.ca will be live-streaming the news conference.
Paul Bernardo moved from Millhaven Institution
Bernardo’s transfer to a medium-security prison in May set off a firestorm across the country and engulfed the Liberal government in controversy.
Bernardo, 58, has been serving a life sentence for the kidnappings, tortures and murders of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy in the early 1990s. He and his then-wife Karla Homolka also killed her younger sister, Tammy Homolka.
Bernardo has been living out his sentence in maximum-security prisons, but in May was moved to a medium-security prison in Quebec.
CSC launched a review of the decision in June, and said in a statement at the time that while laws restrict it in terms of what it can say about an offender’s case, it can place inmates in higher-security prisons “at any point” if deemed necessary to ensure the safety of the public and institutions.
Paul Bernardo prison transfer: Mendicino says he will issue new instructions to prevent repeat of situation
Newly released emails obtained by Global News through an access to information request revealed senior officials within the CSC and Public Safety Canada said Bernardo’s then-looming transfer needed to be kept “low profile” and under a “close hold” just days before it happened.
The emails also showed CSC advising Public Safety Canada that the families of Bernardo’s victims would get “a heads up” prior to the transfer taking place — something the families’ lawyer said didn’t happen until afterward.
Officials have struggled to explain why Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they were not informed until the day the transfer occurred, and the day after, respectively, despite their offices knowing about the possibility for months.
‘Ministerial responsibility is gone’: Accountability problems plague Liberals
The records obtained by Global News show that on May 25 — four days before Bernardo was transferred — the CSC’s assistant communications commissioner emailed media lines flagged as high importance to five individuals.
The emails show a Public Service Canada official then forwarded the information to senior department officials, including the assistant deputy minister of communications at Public Safety Canada and the chief of staff to the director general of Public Safety Canada, advising them to keep it a “close hold and for Deputies’ awareness only.”
Mendicino and his office have previously said the minister was not made aware of Bernardo’s transfer until May 30, the day after it took place.
Bernardo prison transfer: Pressure mounts over what Mendicino knew
Trudeau’s office says he was briefed the day the transfer occurred.
Both have faced heavy scrutiny over why their staff had been advised about the matter dating back to March and then again on May 25, in the case of Mendicino’s office, but had apparently not informed them until the day of or after the transfer.
WestJet revokes cheap tickets to Europe sold by 3rd-party travel website
Miranda Lambert called out for scolding selfie-taking fans during show
The Conservative Party has called on Mendicino to resign or for Trudeau to fire him over the issue, arguing it was part of a pattern of mismanagement regarding important public safety matters.
Paul Bernardo prison transfer: Liberal house leader says correctional system must be apolitical
Mendicino’s office and the CSC have said that “notification in the form of communications products came to the minister’s office on May 25 ahead of the May 29 transfer.”
The prison service has also confirmed it first informed the minister’s office in March about the possibility Bernardo would be transferred, then again on May 25.
News of the transfer made headlines on June 2.
MP demands Mendicino’s resignation during PROC committee hearing
Despite the emails obtained by Global News showing CSC intended to inform the families of Bernardo’s victims about his transfer ahead of time, the families lawyer Tim Danson told Global News last month he only learned about the move after the fact.
“The call isn’t to say it’s going to happen on a certain day and time,” he said upon first confirming the transfer.
“The call is that it just occurred.”
Singh demands answers from Mendicino on Paul Bernardo prison move
The media lines included in the emails obtained by Global News match the public statements released by CSC at the time the transfer became public.
They include assurances the transfer was carefully considered with public safety in mind, and note that inmates are able to request transfers to other institutions.
— with files from Global’s Sean Boynton
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.