DNA DATABANK IN DANGER; CRITICS FEAR SNAP VOTE COULD LET KILLERS SLIP AWAY
The Ottawa Sun
Mon 25 Apr 2005
BY KATHLEEN HARRIS,
VICTIMS’ ADVOCATES are worried an early election could let killers like Karla Homolka slip out of prison without their DNA in the federal databank.
MPs are in the throes of studying Bill C-13, which would expand the retroactive application of a law that gives authorities the right to take DNA samples of rapists and murderers. Currently, samples can only be taken from dangerous offenders or those serving time for at least two murders or sex assaults.
Steve Sullivan, president of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, said the bill would expand the law to “catch Karla” and other violent offenders and boost public safety.
“If you were to pass the amendment in one year or two years or three years you could still catch them, but they might be released on parole any time, so it would be nice to have their DNA before they’re released,” he said. “But with Homolka, once she walks out the door in July, that’s it. They don’t have any more authority over her.”
Ottawa resident Carolyn Gardner, whose sister Sheryl was beaten to death in Toronto by psychopath Ralph Power, has written Tory Leader Stephen Harper imploring him not to trigger an election.
“If you force an election, Bill C-13 will die,” she wrote. “When making your decision, Mr. Harper, I ask you to consider my sister, Sheryl.”
Passing the bill would also help crack unsolved murder cases and serve as a deterrent, Sullivan said.
“People like Karla will be walking out the door. We won’t have their DNA, and we’ll just have to wait for the next victim to get it,” he said.
Sullivan has written to all party leaders, asking them to ensure the bill is passed before an election.
Conservative Justice critic Vic Toews acknowledged the bill is in jeopardy, but said a Tory government would introduce a bill stronger than the Liberal measure.
His party can’t be blamed if the current bill dies, he said. “The Liberals have had 12 years to do something, and they haven’t.”
Toews questioned whether the bill could be passed in time for Homolka’s release, but Sullivan said if there’s political will, there’s a way.