Life Means Life unconstitutional, critics charge

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper wants to prevent certain “heinous” criminals, such as serial killers, from getting out of prison.

The Conservatives have made their proposed Life Means Life legislation a key plank of their election campaign, but critics say they might be doubling up on laws already in place in Canada.

Currently, those convicted of first-degree murder earn an automatic life sentence and can only apply for parole after 25 years behind bars. Under the proposed legislation, certain offenders would be unable to apply for parole but they could ask the public safety minister for relief after serving 35 years.

The Life Means Life Act would apply to the “most heinous” of murderers and to those convicted of high treason, imprisoning them for the rest of their lives.

The Tories say killings involving sexual assault, kidnapping, terrorism and the killing of police or corrections officers would be targeted.

Rather than the independent Parole Board of Canada, the decision to grant relief would rest with an elected minister, which critics say is unconstitutional.

This content has been updated on September 12, 2015 at 21:16.