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Online petition results in bill preventing Homolka from pardon

Airdrie resident Amy Stewart had a hand in preventing notorious killer Karla Homolka from getting a pardon and she said it feels amazing to have spearheaded the movement.

Airdrie resident Amy Stewart had a hand in preventing notorious killer Karla Homolka from getting a pardon and she said it feels amazing to have spearheaded the movement.

On June 16, federal politicians agreed to fast track legislation to prevent notorious offenders like Homolka from applying for a pardon.

“I can’t believe two months ago, I started a Facebook group to vent my frustrations about Graham James’ pardon and now I’m hearing on the news that our petition has led to a bill that will stop Karla Homolka from being pardoned,” said Stewart.

“It is really amazing and overwhelming to know that I am just a mother who is passionate about an issue and having almost 5,000 people supporting me makes it easier for me to know that what I am doing is the right thing.”

In April, Stewart created the Facebook page “Convicted Sex Offenders Should NOT Get Pardoned.”

The site has amassed almost 5,000 members and a petition that stemmed from the site resulted in Bill C-23, put forward by Wild Rose MP Blake Richards.

“This was an issue that really struck me,” said Richards.

“I played hockey when I was young and my son is 14 years old. When children of that age are put under the care of a coach or teacher, they are at their discretion and for someone to take advantage of that, you can’t help but be sickened....”

However, in order to secure speedy approval, the government was forced to split its original bill into two pieces.

Richards said the passing of the first part of the bill is “certainly something to be proud of,” but he has mixed emotions regarding the outcome.

“When you hear about a high profile case like Homolka’s where she committed disgusting crimes, to know that you made a difference is fulfilling,” he said.

“However, the fact that the bill was split and not passed in full, boils down to the fact that the opposition was not willing to do what it needs to to protect its most vulnerable constituents.”

The portion of the bill that was passed changed the amount of time criminals charged with an indictable offence must wait to apply for a pardon from five years to 10 after the have served their sentence.

Bill C-23 B, to be revisited in the fall, would bar criminals who have been convicted of three indictable offences and those who commit sexual assaults on children from pardons all together.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said all federal parties reached an agreement and that a small portion of Bill C-23 passed in the House.

Toews denied that the bill was aimed at one person, but Homolka’s name was raised as parties debated the issue.

It recently came to the government’s attention that Homolka would be eligible to apply for a pardon on July 5.

Homolka was released from prison on July 5, 2005 after serving a 12-year sentence for the rape and murder of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. Bill C-23 was first introduced on May 11, but the government did nothing to move it forward until this week.

In 2009, 99 per cent of pardon applications were approved.

“I am very excited that Blake Richards listened to us and has worked so fast to get this bill presented but our work is not done yet and we cannot give up,” said Stewart.

Richards promised to do his part not to let the bill get lost in the shuffle next fall.

“Yes, some changes have been made but we need to work hard to fully protect our children,” he said.

“I am going to do my best to make sure Bill C-23 B is passed in the fall.”

For more information or to sign a petition to support Bill C-23 B, visit www.blakerichards.ca, Stewart’s Facebook page or call Richards office at 403-948-5103.


Airdrie Today Staff

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