Bernardo transfer to be reviewed after backlash

June 6, 2023

Correctional Services Canada (CSC) says it will review its decision to move Paul Bernardo from Millhaven Institution to medium security La Macaza Institution in Quebec after outrage in the wake of the decision.

Bernardo, who was a serial rapist eventually turned murderer with his then wife Karla Homolka, has been serving  a life sentence since 1995 with no chance at parole for 25 years. 

He has spent the last decade at Millhaven and before that was at Kingston Penitentiary. 

Last week, CSC announced that Bernardo was being moved from the maximum security prison, drawing ire from the public and politicians alike. 

In a statement on Monday afternoon, the CSC apologized for any pain caused by the decision and said it would be reviewing the transfer.

"The Correctional Service of Canada takes its work very seriously. Decisions are taken with utmost care for public safety and victims rights, and follow the rule of law," the statement reads.

"First, we want to acknowledge that our decisions have an impact on victims. These were horrific crimes and we regret any pain and concern this has caused... Secondly, we want Canadians to have confidence in our decisions. Therefore, Commissioner Kelly has ordered an additional review of this offender’s security classification to ensure it was appropriate, evidence-based, and more importantly, adequately considered victims."

The CSC hasn't divulged why Bernardo is being transferred and said they're "restricted by law" in what they can say about why, but said a return to a higher security prison isn't ruled out.

Earlier Monday Marco Mendicino, Canada's Minister of Public Safety, said in a series of tweets that he was angry with the decision, and that he had addressed his concerns with Commissioner Kelly who agreed to a review.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was among those with strong reactions to the transfer on Monday. 

“Paul Bernardo should rot in a maximum-security prison for the rest of his miserable existence. Full stop,” Ford said in a statement. 

Bernardo -deemed a dangerous offender since his conviction- was denied parole in 2021, with a lawyer for the victims' families saying he seems to be taking part in the hearings for his own entertainment. 

Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Initiative