The sentencing Friday of Alexandre Bissonnette in Quebec City and Bruce McArthur in Toronto in two horrific multiple murder cases has again shone light on a provision of the Criminal Code allowing killers to receive consecutive life sentences in Canada.
A Quebec Superior Court justice sentenced Bissonnette to life in prison without any possibility of parole for 40 years for killing six men in a Quebec City mosque. In the case of McArthur, who killed eight men from Toronto's gay village, the Crown had sought a sentence of 50 years without parole eligibility; the judge ruled he can apply for parole after 25 years, when he is 91 years old.
In 2011, the Conservative federal government amended the Criminal Code to allow for consecutive sentences in the case of multiple murders, allowing for parole eligibility to be "stacked" — 25 years for each murder conviction. The government said the change was needed to bring an end to "discount sentences" for mass murderers.
But Justice Francois Huot made clear he thought the changes infringed Bissonnette's Charter rights.
The longest sentences to date in Canada is 75 years without parole, which has been handed down in five cases — all involving triple murders.
Here are some cases where the provision has been used:
Notorious triple killer Dellen Millard is sentenced to a third consecutive life sentence for murder in the death of his father, Wayne Millard. The sentence means Millard must serve 75 years in prison before he can apply for parole. Millard was previously convicted along with his friend, Mark Smich, in the murders of Laura Babcock and Tim Bosma.
Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau is handed consecutive terms following a conviction by a jury last November on four counts: first-degree murder, second-degree murder and two of attempted murder. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. It was the first time consecutive sentences were imposed in Quebec.
Basil Borutski, convicted of killing three women during an hour-long rampage in the Ottawa Valley in September 2015, is sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 70 years. Borutski was found guilty of first-degree murder in the slayings of Anastasia Kuzyk, 36 and Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, and of second-degree murder in the slaying of Carol Culleton, 66.
Derek Saretzky is sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years for killing a father, daughter and a senior in 2015. Saretzky will be 97 when he first qualifies for parole. A jury convicted the 24-year-old of three counts of first-degree murder in the September 2015 deaths of Terry Blanchette, Blanchette’s two-year-old daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech in June 2017.
Douglas Garland is sentenced to life in prison without parole for 75 years for killing Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their five-year-old grandson Nathan O’Brien. Court heard Garland attacked the three victims in their home, then took them to his farm near Calgary, where he killed and dismembered them, burning their remains.
John Ostamas, a homeless man who brutally beat three other transient men to death in separate attacks, is sent to prison for life with no chance of parole for 75 years. Ostamas pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder for the April 2015 killings that prompted police to warn Winnipeg’s homeless population to be careful.
A judge in Moncton, N.B., sentences Mountie killer Justin Bourque to serve at least 75 years before he can request parole. Bourque shot and killed three RCMP officers and wounded two others in June 2014. He pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
A judge in Edmonton sentences Travis Baumgartner, an armoured-car guard, to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years for killing three colleagues during a robbery in a mall at the University of Alberta in June 2012. A fourth guard was badly hurt, but survived. Baumgartner pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and attempted murder.