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Minister Mendicino's chief of staff had been informed of Bernardo's transfer

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Paul Bernardo during his appearance, the June 22, 2021. (File photo)


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The chief of staff of the former Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino had been informed of the transfer of Paul Bernardo by the Commissioner of Correctional Service Canada two weeks before it was carried out. However, the minister was only informed after the operation had been completed, CBC News has learned.

An email from the Privy Council Office, obtained by CBC News, shows Correctional Service Canada (CSC) was in contact with Minister Mendicino's office seven times between February and May 2023 regarding Bernardo's transfer from prison to maximum security to a medium security prison. The minister was not informed of these exchanges.

One of these contacts was made with the communications team of the minister, who was informed of a possible change in the conditions of detention of the serial killer and rapist three months before his transfer.

Tim Danson, a lawyer who represents the families of two of Bernardo's victims, says it's really worrying that so many communications never reached the minister.

It’s quite incomprehensible, reacted Mr. Danson. Everyone knew that this would be unacceptable for the Canadians so they proceeded to make the transfer a fait accompli.

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Bernardo was convicted of the first-degree murder of teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy in 1995. He was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter for his role in the death of 15-year-old Tammy Homolka.< /p>Open in full screen mode

Kristen French (at left) was 15 years old and Leslie Mahaffy (right) was 14 years old when they were kidnapped and murdered by Paul Bernardo.

He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years, and was designated as a dangerous offender.< /p>

The victims' families are outraged that they were not informed of Paul Bernardo's transfer to a medium security prison before the 29th May 2023, the same day of his trip.

In June 2023, CBC News reported that the Public Safety Minister's office had known for more than three months that Bernardo might be transferred, but that Mr. Mendicino was only informed the day after the operation. The story sparked numerous political reactions and calls for the resignation of Minister Mendicino.

Before being ejected of cabinet, Mr. Mendicino asserted that he was not notified and should have been notified as soon as the information was transmitted to his office.

He also issued a directive which now requires informing the Minister of Public Security of such transfers, and warning victims.

Through a freedom of information request, CBC News obtained hundreds of pages of internal emails from the Office of the Privy Council regarding the transfer of Paul Bernardo. These emails contain a detailed sequence of events established by CSC and the Privy Council Office (PCO).

On June 5, 2023, Minister Mendicino said the decision to transfer Bernardo was shocking. The next day, the clerk at the Privy Council Office at the time, Janice Charette, asked her team to find out why the minister had not been made aware of this delicate operation sooner.

In the following days, a PCO employee asked Correctional Service Canada to quickly provide him with a timeline of events.

A sequence of events, including all communications between PCO and SCC, was then established. According to this document, the minister's office was the first to be informed of Bernardo's possible transfer, on February 27, 2023, during a meeting.

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The former Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino (Archive photo)

Additional information was communicated to the Minister's office on March 2, including the inmate's name, date, transfer, and change in security level.

The Commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, Anne Kelly, is said to have informed Minister Mendicino's chief of staff of Bernardo's transfer on May 16, during a meeting.

On May 25, the Assistant Commissioner responsible for Victim Services at SCC notified the Minister's Office of the date of Bernardo's transfer. The same day, the head of communications at SCC provided the minister's office with a memo for the media to advise them that the transfer would take place on May 29.

On the day of the operation, the minister's office called SCC to explain the reasons for the transfer. He was then notified when the detainee's movement was completed.

According to the sequence of events, Mr. Mendicino was notified on May 30 of Bernardo's transfer from Millhaven Penitentiary, Ontario, to La Macaza Penitentiary, Quebec.

Several staff members who worked on the case in Mendicino's office changed positions or left the government. The current Public Safety office says it cannot comment on the matter.

Last year, a carrier Mr. Mendicino's word had explained that the minister was not notified because employees in his office were looking at possible options to change the decision, but ultimately learned that there were none.

When office staff informed the minister of the transfer on May 30, he also cited his lack of authority to influence the decision, according to information provided to CBC News by a spokesperson for Mr. Mendicino.

SCC said told CBC that he had followed the notification protocol and had since strengthened information sharing procedures with the minister's office.

Based on reporting by CBC News' Ashley Burke

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116