A decision to shut down Parliament until October is being greeted with disappointment by the victims of one of B.C.'s most notorious child killers.
On Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced he would seek to prorogue Parliament until October.
But the move by the prime minister is a let down for the family of Darcie Clark, whose three children were killed by Allan Schoenborn in 2008 in Merritt, B.C., as they hoped new
criminal legislation would be put into place before next year.
It appears the shut down will stall Bill C-54, a piece of legislation that puts in tighter rules dealing with mentally ill people found not criminally responsible (NCR) for their crimes, that still needs to be passed in the Senate.
Family spokesperson Dave Teixeira said the family was hoping for the bill to pass this summer so it could be passed into law by the end of the year and before Schoenborn's next review hearing, likely in February.
"Our feeling is it [Bill C-54] will eventually pass, but it is very disappointing that it would not have passed now," he told the Tri-Cities NOW, adding Clark's family has been pushing for a half decade for new legislation around NCR patients.
"It just puts a little extra stress onto the family because we thought this was going to be a very different hearing come February."
If the proroguing of parliament goes ahead, Teixeira said the earliest the bill could pass the senate was mid to late October.
The bill still doesn't become law until it passes Royal Assent, which takes another three months.
Teixeira said the family expects Schoenborn to ask for any number of requests at his next annual B.C Review Board hearing, be it another transfer or day passes.
He noted if the new law were in place, the family would be notified of any changes to the killer's status, like if he were to receive day passes.
Under the proposed changes, NCR offenders found to be at a high risk to re-offend
could have the length between review hearings increased to three years from one.
Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam MP James Moore defended the prime minister's decision to prorogue Parliament and suggested the shut down won't affect the passing of Bill C-54.
He said it's not uncommon for government to prorogue Parliament, especially after a major cabinet shuffle like the one in July.
Moore said the bill would be introduced in the same state of the previous Parliament, adding the prime minister has made a commitment to move the legislation forward.
"There is no reason for any anxiety," he said.
The long-time MP also suggested the shut down doesn't necessarily delay the bill anyway, noting it still had to go through several processes before being passed.
He also contends MPs and ministers are most busy when the house isn't in session.
In July, the Ministry of Justice and the Criminal Justice Branch denied Allan Schoenborn's request to be transferred to Manitoba forensic psychiatric hospital. As a result, he will be staying at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in PoCo pending further review of his detention by the B.C. Review Board.
In February, Schoenborn requested a transfer to a psychiatric hospital in Selkirk, Man. at his annual B.C. Review Board hearing.
His lawyer told the board he was requesting the transfer to be closer to his mother, who could help with his possible reintegration into the community.
The board approved the request and neither his doctors nor the Crown at the hearing opposed the transfer.
However, the branch said after reviewing the information provided and considering the relevant factors, "protection of the public weighs in favour of Schoenborn remaining under the supervision and treatment of Forensic Psychiatric Services in B.C."
Schoenborn, who killed his three children but was ultimately found not guilty of murder by reason of mental disorder, caused a stir in 2011 when he applied to the B.C. Review Board for escorted access to get a coffee and go to a local pool.
He eventually withdrew his application.
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