Tori Stafford’s father says he wrote a letter to the prime minister about the transfer of his daughter’s killer to an Indigenous healing lodge in an attempt to reach Justin Trudeau as a father, not a politician.
« I was basically just trying to get him to, in a sense, have a feeling from a father to a father as opposed to being a politician, » said Rodney Stafford. « I wanted to see if I could kind of touch him a little. It’s not about politics. »
MPs defeated a Conservative motion Wednesday to overturn the transfer of child-killer Terri-Lynne McClintic from the Grand Valley Institution for Women near Kitchener, Ont., to the Okima Ohci Healing Lodge for Aboriginal Women on Nekaneet First Nation in southern Saskatchewan.
Stafford was in Ottawa during that debate. He said he wanted politicians to see his face, to see that he is still grieving.
But he insisted this is not a political issue for him. « Somebody clearly messed up, made a mistake and I’m just trying to get this mistake reversed. »
Stafford spoke to Vassy Kapelos, host of CBC News Network’s Power & Politics. Here is a transcript of that conversation:
How are you doing?
For the most part OK.
What have the last few weeks been like for you?
Pretty rough. Just knowing the injustice going on kind of brings you down, but at the same time seeing the nation’s support in knowing that there’s an issue here it kind of brings you back up.
How did you find out about the transfer originally?
I had originally found out about the transfer, I guess it’d be a little over a month and a half ago. I was talking to my mom regarding an unrelated issue with Terri-Lynne. She was requesting something else, so Service Canada was attempting to get in contact with me. I contacted Service Canada and, during that phone conversation regarding day passes for Terri-Lynne, the woman had mentioned that her upcoming one was going to be in Saskatchewan.
Why? She’s in Kitchener? I couldn’t understand. She said, « No Terri-Lynne was moved in December of last year. » Right from then on I was just like, ‘No this isn’t right, it’s not right.’ We just started making some noise and it’s grown into what seems to be a pretty big power.
So there was no notification. You just had called on another matter and that’s when you came to know what happened?
What are you doing here in Ottawa? What message are you bringing here?
Me coming up to Ottawa today was basically for me to get away and to kind of familiarize myself with Parliament. Just kind of get a little bit of a better understanding of what goes on inside. We had a pretty good tour.
You were telling me earlier that you wanted a chance to be in front of politicians more?
Another reason was, I wanted to get inside Parliament and just kind of get my face inside there and see if maybe some of the politicians, basically any of the ones that were debating, just try to get them to see my face and see that I am a person and I am grieving and this issue has basically reflected all across Canada.
What do you think of how political this has become? How closely are you watching the politics of it and what do you think of that?
The politics of it, I’m not even watching. To me, this isn’t even a political issue. Somebody clearly messed up, made a mistake, and I’m just trying to get this mistake reversed.
The government says that at this point, and this is their claim, they don’t have the power to intervene, but they have asked for a review of how this happened. What’s your response to that?
It’s a start, I guess. I’m a lot further right now then I was a week ago. A little bit more time’s not going to hurt and hopefully, during that time frame, we can come to the conclusion that a mistake was made.
You wrote a letter to the prime minister. Can you tell us what you were trying to say in that letter?
I was basically just trying to get him to, in a sense, have a feeling from a father to a father as opposed to being a politician. I wanted to see if I could kind of touch him a little. It’s not about politics.
Have you received a response at all?
Not currently. I am hoping within the next little while.
Why are you hoping? Has someone given you an indication that you will be getting a response?
No. Just, it’d be the right thing to do. That’s all I want.
What is your message? I know it was very eloquently written in the letter. Are you hoping for them to intervene in this case or do you want a wider look at how something like this could happen?
Both, really. To take a good look at the situation at hand and go through everything. It’s clear that there’s some form of injustice going on and I would like them to look into that and then potentially start changing some laws.
Do you trust the justice system here?
As it stands, I had great faith in them after they had put the two killers away, but after learning that there’s stuff going on in the background without being notified, it kind of hurts. I do have a little bit of insecurities.
Would a notification have made a difference to you either way?
I could have started the fight nine months ago, which could be at an end by now.
Tori Stafford’s father, Rodney Stafford, was in Ottawa Wednesday to push for his daughter’s killer to be transferred out of a healing lodge and back to prison. 5:38
Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.