Don Martin: Both sides are wrong turning McClintic transfer into parliamentary circus
It’s not often both major federal parties are right and wrong at the same time.
But as the rehashing of the tragic 2009 murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford echoes through the House of Commons, the Liberals and the Conservatives have accomplished this rare feat.
There’s a monster living in Saskatchewan’s Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge. Her name is Terri-Lynne McClintic. She is a first-degree killer who delivered the death blows to a beautiful little girl whose only mistake was trusting a stranger who promised to show her a puppy.
For that, McClintic deserves every minute of her 25 years in a medium to maximum security prison, not a healing lodge where inmates are comfortably housed in self-contained units, some with family members, including children.
There she enjoys a fence-free lifestyle with her own personal life plan, vocational training, language instruction, nature walks and even the odd day pass. There she will remain until she becomes eligible for parole in 2035.
But while Conservatives rightly see this as a miscarriage of justice, they are shamelessly thundering the grisly details of Tori’s murder into the official record, clearly seeing it as proof of soft on crime Liberals with one eye on this as future election campaign material.
By spending an entire week fixated on an outrage that’s under official review by Corrections Canada, they’re going beyond demanding government accountability to political grandstanding.
The Liberals, for their part, don’t understand the widespread visceral anger this transfer has triggered.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale described McClintic’s abhorrent behavior as “bad practices” in a Power Play interview and limply transferred responsibility to Corrections Canada.
That’s not good enough. And he knew it, ordering a review of the decision the next day.
Yet the Liberals are right to insist that there shouldn’t be direct political meddling in an individual inmate’s case.
If a particularly egregious case like this demands legislative or regulatory amendments to reverse it or prevent it from re-occuring, that’s the government’s role.
But we don’t want justice ministers of the future randomly over-riding the incarceration experts just to make the shouting stop in the House of Commons.
As for the prime minister, he needlessly turned nasty by blasting the Conservatives as ambulance chasers seeking to profit from Tori Stafford’s death.
When it comes to McClintic’s unfathomable transfer, the Conservatives are right to raise it, the Liberals are right to review it and hopefully they’ll reverse it.
But they’re both wrong to turn the fate of Tori Stafford’s killer into a parliamentary circus that sullies the memory of a little girl who went through hell on her way to heaven.
That’s the Last Word.