Transfer of Tori Stafford's killer is a moral, not political issue: father

As the federal Conservatives continue to hammer the Liberal government over the controversial transfer of Tori Stafford’s killer to a healing lodge, the murdered girl’s father says the issue is about morals, not politics.

“I don’t believe this should be one of our major political issues. This comes down to morals,” Rodney Stafford told Don Martin, host of CTV’s Power Play, on Wednesday. 

“There’s no reason why anybody in the House of Commons should be debating any of this. It’s a full-out mistake.”

The Conservatives have been attacking the Liberal government ever since it was revealed in late September that Terri-Lynne McClintic had been transferred from the Grand Valley Institution for Women near Kitchener, Ont., to the Okimaw Ochi Healing Lodge for Aboriginal Women in southern Saskatchewan.

McClintic pleaded guilty in 2010 to first-degree murder in Tori’s death. The eight-year-old was lured away from her Woodstock, Ont., school in April, 2009, before she was raped and beaten to death with a hammer.  McClintic’s then-boyfriend, Michael Rafferty, was found guilty of murder, kidnapping and sexual assault in Tori’s death.

“I just want justice served. Victoria’s life was taken. She deserves justice,” Rodney Stafford said Wednesday.

The Conservatives forced the Liberals on Wednesday to vote on a motion in the House calling on the government to condemn the McClintic transfer and reverse it.

The motion was voted down, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the Tories “ambulance chasing politicians” during an exchange in the Commons.

Trudeau doubled down on that accusation after question period.

He told reporters that it’s “unfortunate that the House has gotten to a place where there is such use of terrible tragedies for political gain.

“The Conservatives are terribly upset that I referred to them as practicing ambulance chasing politics, but if they’re upset it’s probably because it sting a bit,” Trudeau said.

Rodney Stafford said Wednesday that although he doesn’t see the transfer of his daughter’s killer as a political issue, he believes that it needs to come before Parliament to force changes in the justice system.

“If politicians or certain parties out there are wanting to force the issue, then they’re working with the public and myself,” he said. “And that’s basically all we want to do. I just want to try to get this reversed.”

Stafford, who has written an open letter to Trudeau on his Facebook page, said he would want to talk to the prime minister “parent to parent.”

He and others are planning a protest on Parliament Hill on Nov. 2.

After the Tory motion on the issue was defeated Wednesday, Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen criticized the government’s response to the McClintic transfer.

“It was a bad decision, it was the wrong decision, and the prime minister (needed to) have stated that, and then stated that he would correct it,” she said.

Bergen said Trudeau’s government could very easily set a policy that anyone convicted of killing a child could not be in a healing lodge.  She accused the prime minister of failing to stand up for Tori’s family.