The following is a letter that was sent to over 70 media organizations across Canada in the summer of 2007 requesting help in getting support for passing Bill C-393.
To whom it may concern,
The family and friends of Andy Moffitt M.B. (Medal of Bravery) are writing to you in hopes that you will help spread the word about a Canadian hero who was cut down in his youth, and the problems with our legal system that resulted in a short three year jail term for his killer.
Andy Moffitt M.B. was a computer engineering student attending the University of Ottawa. On the 23rd of December 1998, Andy was celebrating the end of exams with friends at a popular campus hangout. Shortly after midnight a thug started attacking patrons, when Andy and several others attempted to break up the fight. In the ensuing scuffle, Andy was stabbed in the heart and later died at the hospital. Andy was posthumously awarded the Governor General's medal of bravery for his actions that night. A scholarship was created in Andy's name. It is now the largest privately funded scholarship at the University of Ottawa.
Our family spent four years waiting for justice, yet in the end the legal system failed us. Andy's killer, who was originally charged with second degree murder, plead guilty to manslaughter only minutes before the trial was to start, receiving a 9 year sentence. However, the judge reduced the sentence to only 5 years, awarding the killer for time spent in pretrial custody with a two for one credit. As a result Andy's killer spent just over 3 years in jail for killing a Canadian hero.
There is something very wrong with a justice system that equates murder with only a few years in jail. If changes are not made to correct this, other Canadian families will suffer the same fate. This is especially true due to the ease of obtaining a knife, which has become the weapon of choice for thugs in Canada.
In this day and age, many people are carrying knives in their back pockets. They have no reason to fear using these tools of death as they know they will only get a light sentence. What happened to Andy only proves this more. It is time we made a good deterrent, one that no judge could be lenient with. We need to amend the law such that there is a minimum mandatory sentence given to those found guilty of using a knife in a violent crime.
Stats Canada shows that during the period of 2000 to 2004 there were 849 homicides involving knives, while during that same time there were 804 homicides involving firearms. These figures prove that knives have become more popular due to their ease of access and light sentences.
The Canadian justice system treats guns more harshly than knives, yet knives kill more Canadians. It therefore makes sense that the minimum mandatory sentence that our courts apply to firearm homicides should also apply to homicides involving knives.
We hope to address this through MP Gord Brown's private member's bill C-393, created in Andy's name. This bill seeks mandatory minimum sentences for crimes committed with knives.
On the 19th of October 2006, Gord Brown re-introduced bill C-393 in the House of Commons. We are hoping that it will receive a second reading in the next few months. This is one bill that should be nonpartisan since it equally affects all Canadians. It could bring an end to these senseless tragedies. It might be too late to help Andy, yet this bill has the power to prevent future incidents, saving countless lives and the torment for other Canadian families. Please contact your Member of Parliament and tell them to support bill C-393.
You can read about Andy, the bill and the trial at this special website, created to keep his memory alive.
We know that if your readers were to learn about how the justice system failed Andy they too would want to see changes made. Please pass along Andy's story so they can convince their members of parliament that it is time for change.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
The Moffitt Family