Anniversary of Tori Stafford kidnapping marked by call for justice-system changes
OTTAWA -- A number of victims of violent crime rallied in Ottawa today, marking the 10th anniversary of Tori Stafford's disappearance in southwestern Ontario and calling for changes to Canada's justice and corrections systems.
A couple of dozen people stood in a wind-blown freezing-rain storm at the foot of the Peace Tower, demanding more rights for victims and their families.
Victoria Stafford was eight years old when, on April 8, 2009, she went missing while walking home from school in Woodstock, Ont.
Her body was later found after she had been raped and murdered.
The young girl's killers, Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic, made headlines last year when Rafferty was transferred to a medium-security prison and McClintic was moved to a healing lodge in Saskatchewan.
McClintic was later sent back to a maximum-security prison while Rafferty is still serving his sentence in medium security.
Since then, Stafford's father Rodney has joined other victims' families in calling for longer, stricter prison sentences for violent offenders.
"This fight now is not just my fight. This is a national fight," Stafford told the small crowd gathered on Parliament Hill as they were pelted with frozen raindrops. "This really could affect any one of us at any point in time."
The demonstrators applauded as Stafford called for changes to Canada's justice and corrections systems.
"There's so many of us out here right now that are all going through the exact same thing together," he said. "Hopefully we can fight together and we can make the changes needed within our system so that potentially other victims do not have to go through this down the road."
Brenda Bondy shares Rodney Stafford's views on the failings of the justice system.
In 1985, Bondy's six-week old daughter Alecia was raped and murdered by her own father, Wayne McBride, who was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.
"He plea-bargained from first-degree (murder) to second-degree, and ultimately he received day parole," Bondy said Monday.
McBride was granted day parole in 2009, but it was revoked two years later after he breached a number of the conditions for his release.
He was released again in January to a halfway house in Winnipeg, where Bondy's mother lives.
"We are further revictimized," Bondy said, adding that she's worried that others could become McBride's victims. "It creates unsafe communities. I wouldn't want anybody else to be harmed by this violent individual."