FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Attorney General Hugh J. Flemming regarding the latest court decision on Justin Bourque’s parole eligibility:

On June 4, 2014, Justin Bourque murdered three RCMP officers and attempted to kill two others. After committing these horrific crimes, people in the Moncton area were left in terror for 28 hours as hundreds of brave police personnel engaged in a large-scale manhunt.

There are no words to describe Mr. Bourque’s actions. They caused immeasurable pain and loss to the families, friends and colleagues of the fallen and injured officers. His actions left deep and permanent scars in the policing community and Moncton area, as well as across the province and country.

In 2014, Mr. Bourque was sentenced to life in prison. In addition to the life sentence, the sentencing judge imposed a period of parole ineligibility of 75 years.

Last year, however, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that an offender could only be sentenced to life imprisonment with a maximum parole ineligibility period of 25 years. The Supreme Court of Canada’s decisions are binding and final.

As both a New Brunswicker and the attorney general, the decision is disappointing and regrettable to say the least. It all but assures that families will have to go through the agonizing process of participating in parole hearings. It also makes it possible for people who have committed the most horrific crimes to be back on the streets sooner. This does not serve society’s best interest. The decision, however, followed the appropriate process and must be respected.

To be clear, Mr. Bourque remains sentenced to life in prison. The reduction in parole ineligibility means Mr. Bourque may apply for parole after 25 years of incarceration. It does not mean he will be released after 25 years of incarceration. The Parole Board of Canada takes the protection of the public extremely seriously and will undoubtedly consider the protection of the public if Mr. Bourque ever applies for parole.

It should also be noted the attorney general will have the right to present at the parole hearing. New Brunswickers should expect the attorney general to oppose Mr. Bourque from ever being released.