The parents of the man responsible for the Quebec City mosque shooting have penned an open letter after their son was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 40 years.
“We consider this to be a very severe sentence,” wrote Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette.
Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, gunned down six men and wounded many others in the Jan. 29, 2017 attack during evening prayers at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec.
Quebec Superior Court Justice François Huot handed down his decision last Friday in which he ordered Bissonnette serve five concurrent sentences, and modified the law to add an extra 15 years for the sixth conviction. Bissonnette will be eligible for parole when he is 67 years old.
In their letter issued on Monday, his parents write “hope for the future is allowed for all, even for the most despised people in society such as the convicted.”
WATCH: Alexandre Bissonnette, the man responsible for the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years. Mike Armstrong reports.
They say they regret the Crown asked for Bissonnette to be sentenced consecutively instead of concurrently for a maximum penalty of 150 years — which would have been the longest prison sentence in Canada.
“It seems to us that this position encourages a desire for revenge and extinguishes all hope by demanding a penalty far beyond a person’s life expectancy, thus circumventing the abolition of the death penalty,” they wrote.
WATCH: Alexandre’s Bissonnette parents arrive ahead of sentencing
Bissonnette’s defence team had previously stated consecutive sentencing should be declared unconstitutional and invalid as it contravenes Article 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual treatment.
His parents also say that Canada has an “open door policy.” They write the country welcomes people from all over the world and has given hope to those in search of a second chance in life.
“Why deny convicts even the faintest hope?” they wrote.
After Huot handed down his ruling, Bissonnette’s defence said on Friday they will take time to review the decision. Crown prosecutors said they will do the same.
Bullying had ‘devastating effects’ on Bissonnette
In the letter, Bissonnette’s parents also describe how their son suffered from psychological and physical bullying while he was at school. They say it had “devastating effects” on Bissonnette’s personality.
“If we really want to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, it seems to me that the solution is not to lock someone up forever, but rather try to better understand and prevent bullying, which is a serious societal problem that continues to make victims amongst our young,” they wrote.
His parents close their letter by thanking those who have reached out to them.
“We want to tell you that it is thanks to you if we can continue on,” they wrote.
This is the second time Bisonnette’s parents have published a letter about their son. In January 2018, they described Bissonnette’s actions as “inexcusable” but that they stood by their son.
WATCH: Quebec City mosque shooting survivor reacts to Alexandre Bissonnette’s sentence