OTTAWA - The federal government plans to bring in legislation to allow judges to impose what are essentially consecutive life sentences for multiple murderers.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Wednesday he wants to ensure that serial killers or repeat killers pay an appropriate price.
"Life will mean life," he said.
He said the legislation means an end to what he calls volume discounts for multiple murderers.
Normally, a conviction for first-degree murder carries sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
Those convicted of more than one killing still face only the single 25-year period of ineligibility for parole.
The new legislation would allow - but not require - judges to impose consecutive terms of parole ineligibility, meaning a killer might have to serve 50, even 75 years without chance of parole.
But the legislation will leave this sentence to the judges.
"It's the judge that will make the decision. ... He or she will be required to consider this," the minister told a news conference.
"We're giving the judges discretion to see if the case is an appropriate one for an individual to receive consecutive parole ineligibility if they've been convicted or more than one murder."
He suggested that leaving it discretionary, rather than mandatory, will make it proof against Charter of Rights challenges.
"Sometimes when we introduce legislation, we have to be very careful about charter challenges and to make sure it complies and again, when we had a look at the whole issue, we believed this was a reasonable response to this question and again, it will be up to the judges."
This is the latest in a series of tough-on-crime measures brought in by the Tories this fall, including tougher sentences for white-collar crime and an end to two-for-one credit for pre-trial jail time.
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