OTTAWA — The Correctional Service of Canada is defending Paul Bernardo’s privacy rights, as the federal public safety minister says the country is owed an explanation for why he was moved.
Marco Mendicino says Canadians deserve to know why the serial rapist and killer was transferred from a maximum-security prison to medium security, given the matter is now public.
Fallout from Bernardo’s transfer has been echoing through Parliament Hill, Ontario’s legislature and across different police associations.
Bernardo is serving a life sentence for the murder, kidnapping and torture of teenage girlsKristen French and Leslie Mahaffy from the early 1990s.
He was also convicted of manslaughter in the death of Tammy Homolka, who died after being drugged and sexually assaulted. Tammy was the 15-year-old sister of Bernardo’s then-wife Karla Homolka, who was released after serving 12 year for her role in the crimes against French and Mahaffy.
Bernardo also admitted to sexually assaulting 14 other women.
The independent federal correctional service is reviewing the transfer after widespread backlash, saying in a statement earlier in the week that while it understands Canadians want answers, it was “restricted by the law” in what it can say.
What prison authorities are allowed to disclose, including to victims, is outlined in the law governing corrections and in the federal Privacy Act.
Federal correctional spokesman Kevin Antonucci says in a statement today that under the privacy law it cannot disclose an inmate’s personal information without their consent, “except in specific circumstances.”
It says considerations include the sensitivity of the information as well as the likelihood and level of “injury relative to the benefits of the disclosure to the public.”
“Security classifications and transfers are based on risk to public safety, escape risk, and the offender’s institutional adjustment, and case information such as psychological risk assessments,” Antonucci said.
“I want people to know that medium security, and in particular, La Macaza, has the same security perimeter as a maximum, and we take every precaution to maintain public safety.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 9, 2023.