MP's knife bill gets 2nd reading, goes to committee
MP's knife bill gets 2nd reading, goes to committee

    MP's knife bill gets 2nd reading, goes to committee

    Moffitt family applauds efforts by Gord Brown

    Posted By Nick Gardiner, Staff Writer

    "It this goes through, it's going to save a lot of heartache."

    That's the feeling of Brockville's Paulette Moffitt, who watched anxiously with her family in the gallery of the House of Commons on Wednesday as Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown's private member's bill to create mandatory minimum sentences for knife crimes received second reading.

    Moffitt said she and her husband Rod and sons Mike and Rod Jr. were thrilled when members of the Liberal caucus joined Brown and his government colleagues to send the bill to the justice committee for study and review.

    The matter is of particular interest to the Moffitts whose son Andy was stabbed to death on Dec. 23, 1998 while trying to break up a fight in Ottawa.

    "This meant so much for us. It's like it's Andy's legacy," said Paulette Moffitt.

    Despite the minority government's tenuous grip on Parliament, Moffitt hopes there will be no election called in the meantime.

    If not, she feels there should be enough common ground found at the committee to maintain the sentencing provisions and send it back to the Commons for a vote next fall.

    At that point, there's no reason not to expect it to receive a similar show of support that approved second reading Wednesday by a 140 to 116 count, she said.

    Moffitt, who has written to all MPs asking for their support, said she was particularly disappointed the NDP voted against Brown's bill despite their stated concern over increasing knife violence.

    "Especially when you see knives are the number one choice of weapon for violent crimes and there are many knife attacks in (urban) NDP ridings," said Moffitt.

    Even if the plug is pulled on Parliament, Moffitt said she and her family will continue to fight for mandatory penalties and other elements of the bill that protect victim's rights.

    "We aren't giving up."

    In particular, she applauds a provision to grant the National Parole Board authority to prevent offenders from scheduling and rescheduling parole hearings intended to frustrate victim participation in the process.

    She said that was especially a difficult time for her family dealing with shifting parole schedules requested by Andy's killer, Henry Danninger, who was paroled in August of 2006 after serving two-thirds of a five-year sentence for manslaughter.

    Brown praised the Moffitts for their efforts to gain broad support for the bill and colleagues on both sides of the House for voting in favour.

    "If it saves one life, it will accomplish something," said Brown, who feels minimum sentences send a message that will act as a deterrent to people considering arming themselves with a knife.

    Brown acknowledged a sudden election would move the process back to square one but said he'd be willing to start it all again if he was re-elected.

    "It's the right thing to do. I've seen first-hand with the Moffitt family the impact (Andy's killing) has had on all of their lives."

    Brown said he is willing to work with the justice committee on improving the bill and noted it has a number of elements to be considered.

    The bill calls for the creation of mandatory minimum sentences for carrying a concealed weapon, including a knife, with escalating sentences for repeat offences.

    It would require sentences for knife crimes to be served consecutively, rather than concurrently, to other crimes committed at the same time or while on parole. In addition, a convicted offender would have to serve half the sentence instead of one-third before becoming eligible for parole.

    Mandatory sentences would be created for manslaughter using a knife equivalent to the current minimums for deaths caused by a firearm.

    The bill would also bring to an end the practice of granting credit for time in pre-trial custody for offenders with past records or in breach of court conditions.

    Article ID# 1062853


   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
   Our Angel
   Thank You
   Mike's Speech
   Memorial Speech
   Andy's Story
   Our Brother