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Metro Vancouver mayors call for serial killer Robert Pickton to be denied parole

Artist's sketch show accused serial killer Robert Pickton right, taking notes during the second day of his trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, B.C., Tuesday January 31, 2006. (CP PHOTO/ Jane Wolsack) Artist's sketch show accused serial killer Robert Pickton right, taking notes during the second day of his trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, B.C., Tuesday January 31, 2006. (CP PHOTO/ Jane Wolsack)
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A dozen mayors from around Metro Vancouver say federal Attorney General and Justice Minister Arif Virani should deny parole for notorious B.C. serial killer Robert Pickton, and reassess the parole and sentencing system for “prolific offenders and mass murderers.”

Delta Mayor George Harvie and 11 other municipal leaders say in a letter sent Wednesday to Virani that allowing Pickton to apply for parole would “undermine the integrity of our justice system.”

The letter says Pickton's lack of remorse and the depravity of his crimes make him “irredeemable,” and granting him parole would be a “chilling message” for crime victims.

The mayors say Pickton's parole eligibility would retraumatize victims' families, especially Indigenous families and communities who are still undergoing a “collective healing process.”

The letter says Virani should do everything in his power to make sure Pickton stays behind bars if he applies for parole, and the federal government should urgently reassess the parole and sentencing system.

The letter says the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a law in 2022 allowing consecutive sentences with stacked parole ineligibility periods as unconstitutional, effectively ending “life imprisonment” in Canada.

“It is crucial that our laws not only respect the Charter but also uphold the principles of justice, ensuring that penalties for heinous crimes are just and maintain public confidence in our criminal justice system,” the letter says.

“Such legislative review is essential to balance the need for public safety, the rights of the accused, and the necessity of a sentencing framework that genuinely reflects the gravity of the offences committed.”

In February, family members of Pickton's victims spoke out after he became eligible to apply for parole, but it's not known if he ever made an application.

Pickton was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder in December 2007, and automatically sentenced to life in prison, the judge giving him the maximum ineligibility period for parole of 25 years.

At the time, Jason Gratl, a lawyer for several family members of Pickton's victims in a pending civil lawsuit, said the serial killer has a “snowball's chance in hell” of ever being released on parole.

Gratl said Pickton is in a supermax prison in Quebec, “as far in the universe from parole as a man can be.”

The mayors who signed the letter were Harvie, Ken Sim of Vancouver, John McEwen of Anmore, Jamie Ross of Belcarra, Mike Hurley of Burnaby, Ken Berry of Lions Bay, Nicole MacDonald of Pitt Meadows, Brad West of Port Coquitlam, Malcolm Brodie of Richmond, Mark Sager of West Vancouver, Megan Knight of White Rock and Meghan Lahti of Port Moody.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2024.

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