Ottawa has named the victim of one of British Columbia's most high-profile crimes to the committee that will vet potential Superior Court judges in the province.
Cindy Kilburn, the daughter of billionaire Vancouver businessman Jim Pattison, was kidnapped in 1990 by two men who forced their way into her North Vancouver home and demanded an $8.5-million ransom. Both abductors were caught but their sentences were reduced on appeal, and both committed crimes after being released on parole.
Ms. Kilburn has been appointed to the B.C. judicial advisory committee as Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he wants a judiciary that will reflect his tough-on-crime agenda. The Conservatives have added police to the committees and other victims-rights advocates such as Ellen Campbell, the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness.
"That's actually something we believe very strongly in, in terms of making sure that victims actually get represented," said Genevieve Breton, a spokesman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. "I'm sure their input on those committees will be very helpful."
The opposition has charged that the Conservatives' move to fill the committees with Tories, just after they changed the rules to give Ottawa's representatives a majority vote, is an effort to steer Canada's courts to the right.
Yesterday, the Tories said the Liberals are hypocrites because they also "stacked" the committees with their own partisans.
Many victims' rights advocates have called for judges to hand down tougher sentences for violent crimes, and have complained that the courts have tied the hands of investigators.
It's unclear whether Ms. Kilburn has strong views on judges. She has lived a relatively low-profile life since her kidnapping. She worked for one of her father's radio stations in the 1990s, when the station was called "The Bridge" and had a Christian-radio format, and now works for an evangelical grade school in Surrey, B.C. She did not return telephone calls.
Her kidnapping was a high-profile crime that shook the family of one of Canada's most prominent businessmen. Mr. Pattison owns Canada's third-largest company, the Jim Pattison Group, which has radio stations, car dealerships and other interests.
Chadwick Shayne Mulvahill, Christian Charles Snelgrove, and Adam Kataoka were convicted for key parts in a kidnapping scheme in which two teen accomplices, aged 16 and 17, forced their way into the home of Ms. Kilburn, then 30, and bound her with duct tape. The kidnappers demanded an $8.5-million ransom and threatened to torture Ms. Kilburn. Mr. Snelgrove and Mr. Kataoka released her 14 hours later, believing Mr. Mulvahill had double-crossed them. Both Mr. Mulvahill and Mr. Snelgrove received lengthy sentences which were reduced on appeal.
Ms. Kilburn's appointment to the committee was treated with a degree of secrecy. Her first name was not released when the government issued a list of committee members' names Jan. 19, and it refused to provide any other information about her or other members.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Chadwick Shayne Mulvahill and Christian Charles Snelgrove forced their way into the home of Ms. Kilburn and bound her with duct tape. In fact, it was two teen accomplices who forced their way into the home and bound Ms. Kilburn with duct tape. Both Mr. Mulvahill and Mr. Snelgrove were convicted for key parts in the kidnapping scheme.