Mosque murder: Bissonnette may seek parole after 25 years

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada overturns the provision that allows the accumulation of sentences in blocks of 25 years, considered contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and, therefore, determines that the Quebec mosque murderer, Alexandre Bissonnette, can apply for parole after 25 years in prison.

• Read too: Bissonnette’s Grief: The Muslim Community Disappointed and Concerned About Orphans

• Read too: Bissonnette case: the STF decision welcomed by jurists

The decision written by Justice Richard Wagner, therefore, attacks provision 745.51 of the Penal Code, introduced in 2011 by the Conservative government, by declaring it unconstitutional since it came into force.

“By depriving offenders of any possibility of early reintegration into society, the contested provision undermines the very foundations of Canadian criminal law,” the judge wrote in the 97-page decision.

This means that not only Alexandre Bissonnette, who caused six deaths and five serious injuries on January 29, 2017, when he stormed Quebec’s grand mosque, but also all murderers sentenced to 50 years or more under section 745.51 will be entitled to ” Repair”.

Alexandre Bissonnette

AFP photo

Alexandre Bissonnette

Relief for the accused

The legal aid lawyer who represented the defendant, now 32 years old, since the beginning of the process said he was satisfied with the decision rendered. “It’s a second chance, a second life that Mr. Bissonnette can hope to demonstrate to society that he can be an asset, that he can work on himself, move forward and look forward,” reacted M.and Charles-Olivier Gosselin.

Alexandre Bissonnette will be able to apply for parole in 2042, at the age of 52.

The defense attorney was also able to speak with his client and his parents after the ruling. “It was a lot of emotion, a relief. What I wish for them is to be able to look forward. The victims too, it’s the same thing, it took up a lot of media space, I think both the Bissonnette family and the victims can expect a little privacy,” he added.

For his part, the Director of the Criminal and Criminal Public Prosecutor’s Office (DPCP) only reacted briefly to the decision “in deference to the Supreme Court”. Mand Daniel Bélanger, DPCP’s chief prosecutor in Quebec, however, indicated that “this case attests to the ability of the judicial system to pursue complex cases in the best public interest.”

Photo files, Boris Proulx

The prosecutor ended with a thought for the victims. “This day marks for them [les victimes] the end of a long legal process, but we know it doesn’t mark the end of her grieving and healing process.

  • Listen to the chronicle of Nicole Gibeault, retired judge, at the microphone of Geneviève Pettersen on radio QUB:

the victims

Despite a decision that displeases the victims’ families, Judge Wagner indicates that this decision “should not be perceived as a devaluation of the lives of each of the innocent victims”. Regarding Bissonnette, the Supreme Court indicates that he “committed horrible crimes, which damaged our social fabric. Motivated by hatred, he took the lives of six people.

“However, the horror of crimes does not negate the fundamental proposition that all humans carry within them the capacity to rehabilitate themselves”, he justifies. Section 12 of the Bill of Rights and Freedoms protects all citizens from “cruel or unusual” punishment.


A total of 38 multiple killers have received a sentence under section 745.51 since 2011. On six occasions, a sentence of more than 70 years has been imposed.

That decision will also have repercussions on two important sentences to come in Canada, starting with Halloween perpetrator Carl Girouard, who killed two people with sabers in Old Quebec in 2020. The latter has been found guilty of two premeditated murders, and the sentences are should start on June 10th.

On the other hand, the Ontario Superior Court was waiting for Bissonnette’s decision before imposing a sentence on Alek Minassian who killed 10 people with a sheep truck on the streets of Toronto in 2018. The decision by the country’s highest court somehow sealed the deal. the fate of this multiple killer.


Bissonnette’s decision also means that Justin Bourque, sentenced to 75 years for the murder of three RCMP officers in Moncton, will therefore be able to request a review and will automatically win his case because of this Supreme Court decision.

Murderers who obtain sentences in which the accumulation of sentences gives a firm detention period of between 25 and 50 years may apply to the courts to reduce the period of ineligibility for parole after 25 years. These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the judges.

This is the case of former Hells Angels supporter Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, who received a sentence of 35 years for premeditated murder plus 10 years for unpremeditated murder. That means he can still serve a 35-year minimum despite Bissonnette’s decision.

political reactions

In an initial reaction, Federal Liberal Minister and Quebec MP Jean-Yves Duclos said: “Our thoughts are with the families, relatives, friends of the six victims who tragically left us in 2017. since 2017 and this trial will certainly reopen wounds. .

That said, Duclos carefully avoided commenting on the fact that Alexandre Bissonnette could ask for parole after 25 years.

Photo files, Stevens LeBlanc

“In legal matters, there are people more experienced than you and I who will want to study the contents of the Supreme Court report today. I think most people will think, as I do, of the victims’ families and relatives, because that’s the most important thing right now. The pain has been acute since 2017. Sometimes it passes and sometimes, like today, it gets even worse,” she added.

For his part, the mayor of Quebec reacted late Friday morning through a statement.

“The sentence has been handed down for this heinous crime. However, it is not my role to comment on the work of justice. Our collective role is to put everything into practice to prevent further such tragic events. Today, I still have a special thought for the decimated families, those who are still living with the huge consequences of this horrible January night”, wrote Bruno Marchand.

According to him, “these are the people who deserve our full consideration today. Those for whom the reconstruction is far from over, those who have yet to live with these atrocious images, those who will never see their loved ones who tragically lost their lives.

– With the collaboration of Taïeb Moalla

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