SUPREME COURT OF CANADA DECISION ON QUEBEC CITY MOSQUE SHOOTER’S SENTENCE
(Montreal – May 27, 2022)
The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on Friday to keep Quebec City mosque gunman Alexander Bissonnette’s parole ineligibility period to 25 years will be received with difficulty by many, particularly for those in the community he ravaged on the night of January 29th, 2017. The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) had intervener status in this case.
Bissonnette had pled guilty to murdering six Muslim worshippers at Quebec City’s Islamic Cultural Centre that night, while injuring and maiming 19 others.
Friday’s decision rejects an appeal by the Crown to have Bissonnette serve life in prison behind bars. It also alters a section of the Criminal Code of Canada in allowing killers to serve a single 25-year period of parole ineligibility regardless of how many victims there are.
Whereas offenders like Bissonnette would have had to serve out a 25-year period of parole ineligibility for each person they killed in a mass murder, Friday’s decision reduces that to a single 25-year period regardless of the number of victims killed. Bissonnette will therefore be eligible for parole in 20 years, having already spent five years behind bars.
“Today, we are thinking about the families,” says NCCM CEO Mustafa Farooq. “Their pain has never fully healed, and their wounds are reopened today as they struggle with the possibility of being among the one who killed their loved ones that night.”
“The pain, suffering, and anguish he caused with his calculated plan of mass murder will never fully be extinguished for those whose lives he destroyed in Quebec City and beyond. The community in Quebec City will never reach full closure for their loss, particularly knowing that the cause of their pain may return to life among them in 20 years,” said Lina El Bakir, NCCM Quebec Advocacy Officer.
NCCM stands with the victims, survivors and loved ones of the Quebec City mosque shooting. Their wounds will be re-opened each time Bissonnette appears before the parole board for a chance to leave prison. NCCM is committed to standing with the survivors and families when they appear in front of the parole board in 20 years, and every year after that.