Death of toddler in private day home inspires parole hearing petition
A petition to change the way a victim’s family can find out information about a convict’s parole hearing has officially launched.
The move comes after the death of 18-month-old Ceira McGrath in a private day home in Silverado in 2015.
Ryan McGrath, Ceira’s father, says life is still hard without his daughter.
“Every day continues to be a struggle. We miss her incredibly. We just have to honour her memory and do what we can in her memory,” he said.
One of the ways the McGraths are honouring the toddler is by supporting the petition.
Elmarie Simons, the woman who was looking after Ceira, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and granted day parole after serving seven months.
The McGraths were never notified of Simon’s parole hearing, because in Canada, that information must be requested.
Consequently, Ceira’s grieving family didn’t have a chance to speak at Simon’s hearing.
“We’ve been made aware that when a family of a victim is not in attendance at a parole hearing, the optics of that can look really bad,” McGrath said.
“And we feel strongly that we would be doing society a great service by helping to keep this particular individual in prison and away from children for as long as possible,” he added.
“With this change, we feel we can do that.”
The petition to support an opt-out process has been officially launched by Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie.
Kusie said that during tragic times, the last thing families are thinking about is submitting a request for information.
“It shouldn’t be that way,” she said. “It should be that they are immediately provided that information and that they have an opportunity to be a part of the process of those who have hurt their family and right now it’s just not that way.”
McGrath’s online petition calling for parole hearing changes has already received more than 12,000 signatures.
He is urging all those people to sign the official petition that will be presented in Ottawa.
The petition closes August 14th.
Here's a link to the petition. Search for petition number E2239.