WHEN PAULETTE Moffitt heard about the stabbing death of Queen's
University football player Justin Schwieg last week, she relived the
pain of losing her son Andy all over again. "When I hear (of) killings
with knives, we just relive our own nightmare," Moffitt told the Sun.
"It just devastates you that it happened again."
Moffitt's son Andy, 23, was stabbed to death on Dec. 23, 1998, when he tried to break up a fight in the Coyote Bar in Ottawa.
Henry Danninger was sentenced in March 2003 to five years for
manslaughter in Andy's killing. He has a parole hearing scheduled April
Schwieg was stabbed once early Friday in the popular Kingston bar AJ's Hangar and died in hospital.
Bruce Keno Elijah McKenzie, 26, turned himself in Saturday and faces a first-degree murder charge.
In June, the Moffitt family sent a letter to about 400
parliamentarians, police organizations, lawyers and others to try and
gain support for creating tougher laws for crimes committed with
knives, including minimum sentences. Moffitt said the whole family
worked on the letter-writing campaign.
"We wanted something positive to work on and to make sure no other
family goes through what we have gone through," she said. "And it would
be something in his (Andy's) memory."
'THEY DON'T CARE'
Moffitt said laws need to be stiffer to deter the use of knives.
"Right now they don't care because they see Andy's case. This guy could
be out on parole," said Moffitt. "So these people carrying knives have
nothing to lose, they just have to look at what happened here."
Moffitt's MP, Leeds-Grenville Conservative Gord Brown, took up the
cause and plans to introduce a private members bill in April. The bill
would create minimum sentences for crimes committed with knives that
are the same as those for crimes committed with firearms.
Manslaughter or attempted manslaughter with a knife, for example, would carry a minimum four-year sentence, Brown explained.
"We've got two people, two young men, murdered in just a matter of a
few years here in our region," said Brown. "I'm not saying that my bill
would have saved their lives. However, the government needs to get
tougher on criminals."
When Moffitt heard about Schwieg's slaying, she encouraged Brown to bring his bill forward quickly.
"How many more lives are we going to lose before we send out that message that knives kill?"