If any good can come from the senseless 1998 murder of University
of Ottawa engineering student Andy Moffitt -- posthumously awarded the
Governor General's Award for Bravery -- it can begin with the House of
Commons passing a private member's bill seeking tougher penalties for
To do otherwise would be akin to coldly stabbing Andy Moffitt
through the heart again, and showing an equally cold apathy to the
Three MPs -- including Toronto Liberal Derek Lee, who should
know better -- already expressed their nays last Friday, suggesting the
bill is too largely based upon an isolated incident.
This, of course, is bogus.
Either they do not read the news, or their white picket fences
are obscuring a real-world view, because knife crime is on a
Bill C-393, now in the midst of its second reading, is being
pushed by Tory Leeds-Grenville MP Gord Brown, whose constituency
includes the city of Brockville where Andy Moffitt was born, and where
his parents, Paulette and Rod Moffitt, continue their fight to see that
justice is at least done for future victims.
Justice, after all, did not serve their son very well.
As has often been written here in lead-up to Bill C-393's
creation, Andy Moffitt was killed on the eve of Christmas Eve almost 10
years ago when he innocently attempted to intercede in an argument at
an Ottawa bar between what turned out to be a drug dealer and the
former roommate he accused of stealing his stash.
Moffitt knew neither person, even though Henry Danninger, the
drug dealer who ran his "bad-assed knife" -- his words -- through
Moffitt's Good Samaritan heart, also called Brockville his home.
What Danninger got from the courts was a kiss.
Charged with second-degree murder, he was released on bail only
three months after his arrest, only to be re-arrested months later for
bizarre acts on his neighbour's home -- caught on camera -- in which he
repeatedly vandalized the property with buckets of human waste.
Following his re-arrest, he was allowed to plead guilty to
manslaughter and, to add insult to injury, Danninger was rewarded with
2-for-1 credit not only for his time in custody, but also for time he
served under house arrest -- all while dousing his neighbour's property
While he was supposedly sentenced to nine years, the reality is
that Henry Danninger served a total of 3.5 years in prison, and is now
back in Brockville.
What MP Gord Brown's bill proposes will amend both the
Criminal Code and the Corrections and Condition Release Act to prevent
or deter further violent knife crimes.
It will also replicate existing mandatory minimum sentences
already in place for gun homicides (but rarely imposed by judges), and
increase sentences for repeat criminal concealment of weapons -- guns
And, it would modify parole eligibility for gun or knife
crimes, increasing it from one third of the imposed sentence to one
Crimes statistics for 2006 show the rate of homicides by young
people at its highest level since 1961. Those same stats also show that
44% of all homicides in this country are committed with knives, as
opposed to 17% using guns.
In his speech to the Commons on Friday, Brown also reiterated
published comments in which Kingston Police Chief Bill Closs -- a
strong advocate of tougher and deterrent-like penalties for knife crime
-- told of how 75% of all criminal-injury assaults in 19 Ontario
jurisdictions, including Cornwall, Ottawa, Kingston and Belleville,
were knife related.
'NEED TO GET OUT MORE'
He called it an "epidemic."
Scott Newark, former Alberta Crown prosecutor, and special
counsel to the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, assisted Gord Brown
in drafting a bill.
"I was surprised at the reaction of opposition MPs when all
three of them suggested that the bill is simply a response to a unique
set of facts," said Newark. "With the greatest of respect, these guys
need to get out more and pay attention to what's happening back home."
Here at "home," as reported yesterday, two men were severely slashed in the Entertainment District early Sunday morning.
One is still in hospital, while the other received 40 stitches to close a stomach gash.
Stabbings are hardly rare.
At noon yesterday, Durham Regional Police issued a press
release regarding the arrest of two Ajax young offenders in relation to
a swarming on a footpath in Whitby during which a 17-year-old male was
stabbed in the back.
Odds are, though, that it will not make the newscasts.
This is not to say, however, that it did not happen.