Alexandre Bissonnette’s parents say ‘very severe sentence’ denies all hope of rehabilitation


Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette issued an open letter Monday evening, questioning the severity of the minimum 40-year sentence handed down to their son Alexandre Bissonnette Friday and blaming the Crown for encouraging a « desire for revenge. »​

On Friday, Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, was sentenced to at least 40 years in prison for killing six men at a Quebec City mosque two years ago. He will be 67 before he’ll be eligible to seek parole.

Bissonnette’s parents point out the 40-year minimum sentence is the heaviest sentence ever imposed in Quebec since the death penalty was abolished in 1976. « We consider this to be a very severe sentence, » they write.

They say the position of the Crown — which had sought six consecutive periods of 25 years of parole ineligibility — amounted to circumventing the abolition of the death penalty and extinguishing all hope of rehabilitation.

« Why deny convicts even the faintest hope? » they ask.

Bissonnette’s parents said last summer when they spoke publicly for the first time that they didn’t realize until it was too late how years of intimidation and bullying had affected their son’s mental health.

In Monday’s open letter, they point out their son suffered psychological and physical bullying « which had devastating effects on his personality. » 

They say the solution to prevent another tragedy like the one perpetrated by their son is to « not lock someone up forever, but rather try to better understand and prevent bullying. »

Appeal of sentence likely

Legal experts said Quebec Superior Court Justice François Huot’s sentence is likely to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre Imam Hassan Guillet expressed sympathy for Alexandre Bissonnette’s parents after the sentence was rendered.

« They are as destroyed as we are, » said Guillet Friday, after seeing them in the courtroom.

Survivors of the Quebec City mosque shooting and the families of the slain men expressed their disappointment that children of the victims will have to revisit the case in 40 years, when Bissonnette is at last able to apply for parole.

Read the full letter from Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette below:


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Thousands could be without power ‘for days’ after severe B.C. windstorm


Thousands of people living on B.C.’s South Coast could be without power for days after an intense windstorm hammered the region all day Thursday, possibly turning deadly on Vancouver Island.

Environment Canada said gusts hit up to 100 km/h across Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley. At one point, more than 330,000 people were without power.

As of early Friday morning, BC Hydro said 150,000 customers were still in the dark.

More than 230,000 homes have lost power as another « significant » windstorm batters B.C.’s South Coast, also leading to widespread ferry closures and shutting down access to parts of Vancouver’s Stanley Park for the sake of public safety. 2:07

The utility called it « one of the most severe storms BC Hydro has experienced in years, » adding that it could be days before power is fully restored to everyone.

A Vancouver police officer looks up at a tree that fell onto a house in Vancouver on Thursday. (CBC)

A tweet from the utility said hydro workers made progress on outages across the mainland, but the brunt of the damage was taken by Vancouver Island. Crews are being sent to the island on ferries Friday morning to get to the hardest-hit spots.

One killed, another injured

The BC Coroners Service said a person was killed by a falling tree in the city of Duncan on southern Vancouver Island, though it is unclear if the tree fell because of the strong winds.

In Surrey, a worker was hurt when a tree went down near Pacific Academy school. They were taken to hospital and WorkSafeBC is investigating the incident.

104-year-old pier collapsed

In White Rock, about 50 kilometres from Vancouver, the city’s landmark pier was partly destroyed by powerful waves.

Video from the shoreline shows waves ripping out a large section of the 104-year-old structure, leaving a man trapped on the far end. He was later rescued by helicopter.

A person was airlifted to safety after getting stranded on a pier broken in two by a powerful storm. 0:47

Nearly two dozen boats were also clobbered by the waves, crashing into each other along the pier. The entire beach promenade — a well-known tourist hotspot in the summer — was littered with debris tossed up by the ocean.

City officials said more details on clean-up and repair plans would be released Friday.

Rail line damaged

The waves in White Rock also cut rail service that runs along its shoreline.

Amtrak passenger service to Seattle has been cancelled, along with up to 17 freight trains that run along that route every day.

This is one of many trees uprooted by the windstorm in southwestern B.C. on Thursday. (CBC)

Burlington Northern railway owns and maintains the line. Gus Melonas, a company spokesman in Seattle, said crews worked overnight Thursday to stabilize the storm-damaged rail bed.

Melonas said there are problem areas all through to Bellingham, Wash.

Burlington Northern hopes to reopen the line Friday.

The storm also forced the closure of several public parks back in B.C., including Vancouver’s Stanley Park, out of concern for public safety.

Several public trails and viewpoints leading to the beach in South Surrey and White Rock were also shut down.


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