On Jan. 29, Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to eight separate counts of first-degree murder in the Toronto area. He was Canada’s gay serial killer, a man who left the local LGBTQ community shaken and fearful for their lives, having viciously murdered eight men — most of whom were men of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent — between the years of 2010–2017. (Read more about the case here.)
Which is why it’s disheartening and, frankly, disgusting that Bruce McArthur will be eligible for parole in only 25 years when a judge could have ensured he never faced the possibility.
A first-degree murder conviction in Canada comes with a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years. And because McArthur pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder, he faced eight of those sentences.
The judge in this Bruce McArthur case had one decision to make when it came to sentencing: whether those eight sentences should run consecutively or concurrently.
If the sentences were to run consecutively, McArthur would serve life in prison — he’s 67 now — only having a chance for parole after 200 years.
If they were to run concurrently, he would serve each of the sentences at the same time, meaning that after 25 years, when McArthur is 91 years old, he would be eligible for parole.
Justice John McMahon, despite calling the crimes “pure evil,” decided McArthur would serve the sentences concurrently, which means in only 25 years this man will be eligible for parole.
Is it likely at all that McArthur would be granted parole at the age of 91? Not really. Will the man even live long enough to see 91? Perhaps not. But any symbolic gesture that this man would never again see the light of day was thrown out the window.
The sentencing of Bruce McArthur adds insult to injury. This case has resulted in a strained relationship between the Toronto Police Department and a local LGBTQ community that doesn’t understand what took nearly a decade to get this gay serial killer off the streets. Some have claimed there was no vigorous pursuit of whoever was responsible for these missing gay men, and that the police shrugged off worries that a serial killer was at work.
Partly due to the Toronto Police Department’s alleged mishandling of the Bruce McArthur case, the city’s Pride organization decided against allowing uniformed police from participating in this year’s parade.
It’s been said that Bruce McArthur “stood impassively” this morning when his sentence was handed down to him. And while the nightmare he brought upon Toronto’s LGBTQ community has finally, officially come to a close, I can’t help but call it a shame that any possibility of this man seeing the light of day ever again — however minuscule the possibility — exists.
Toronto, Canada, McArthur’s victims and the world’s LGBTQ population deserves better.