Public safety minister’s staff knew of Bernardo’s prison transfer months in advance

Staff in the Public Safety Minister’s office knew for three months that Paul Bernardo would be transferred to a medium-security prison, but the minister himself wasn’t told until after it happened.

Marco Mendicino’s office has confirmed to multiple news outlets that it did not tell the minister about the convicted serial killer and rapist’s transfer until May 30, the day after it happened.

The Correctional Service of Canada first emailed Mendicino’s office on March 2 to inform them that Bernardo would be moved out of a maximum to medium-security facility at some point. A second email was sent on May 25, informing them that Bernardo would be transferred four days later.

Bernardo is serving a life sentence for the murders, kidnapping and torture of 15-year-old French and 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy in the early 1990s. He has admitted to sexually assaulting 14 other women and was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Tammy Homolka, who died after being drugged and sexually assaulted.

Tammy’s sister Karla Homolka, who was married to Bernardo at the time, was released in 2005 after completing a 12-year sentence for her role in the crimes committed against French and Mahaffy.


A lawyer representing the families of two teenage girls who were murdered by Bernardo tells the CBC it’s alarming that the minister and the victim’s families were kept in the dark for months, calling it an “egregious abdication of responsibility.”

The correctional service has confirmed the families were notified of the transfer the day it happened.

The minster’s office says staff were not trying to protect Mendicino by not telling him, and instead were examining their options as the public safety minister has no power over transfer decisions.

Mendicino himself released a statement on Wednesday afternoon, saying he shared the “anger and disappointment” of the decision and outlined the directives he will be issuing to the Correctional Service of Canada.

Corrections spokesman Kevin Antonucci said Bernardo was transferred as a result of a review into his security classification, which is required every two years. He underlined that Bernardo poses no risk to public safety and the Quebec prison he now resides in has the same security perimeter as a maximum-security institution.

The corrections service has also defended the convicted killer’s privacy rights, but Mendicino has said the public deserves to know why the transfer took, given the matter is now public.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre is calling Mendicino’s shocked reaction a lie, given his office’s knowledge of the transfer.

A three-person review committee at correctional services is now reviewing the decision to transfer Bernardo. The review is expected to take a number of weeks.

With files from the Canadian Press

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