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View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will pick up on a lot of this in my speech. I am happy to answer any questions from those members who will be taking notes during that time.
At the outset I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills.
I rise today to join my colleagues in expressing my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque, following this heinous and reprehensible tragedy.
In the aftermath of events such as these it is imperative that an investigation occurs to provide the public with the trust and knowledge that these errors will be addressed. That way we can ensure changes are made to better prevent similar occurrences from happening again. As the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has said in the House, there will be an administrative review and investigative committee assembled by the Parole Board of Canada and the Correctional Service.
To ensure accountability, two co-chairs will act as external investigators to oversee the review. In addition, the Quebec City police service is currently in the midst of a criminal investigation. On both sides of the House, I have no doubt that we all want to see the results of these investigations. The minister has publicly committed to making the findings public once the administrative process is complete. With the findings, committee members will be able to review what went wrong and make recommendations.
Regarding the motion before us today, it is important to note that the Parole Board of Canada issued an order that Mr. Gallese not be permitted to visit massage parlours. With this investigation, we will find out whether the orders were followed and, if not, the reasons for disregarding them. A serious and tragic error was made.
However, I will caution my Conservative colleagues from trying to declare that there is a wide-ranging and systemic problem. Violent offences such as these are not common in Canada, more so in recent years. In 2013-14, there were 17 convictions for a violent offence committed by a person on day parole. In 2017-18, there were five. However, five is still too many.
I would also inform the members opposite that our commissioners are highly qualified, with many experts in legal, correctional and criminology fields. Once appointed, the new commissioners receive rigorous training in risk assessment, hearing management, decision-making and addressing the specific factors that apply to certain types of offenders. After this initial training, the new commissioners are paired with more experienced commissioners. If necessary, they return for additional training. It is only when the regional vice-president is satisfied that they are ready are they allowed to sit and make decisions. All commissioners receive annual training on risk assessment, so that they can refine their skills and remain in a continuous learning mode.
When the Conservatives question the merit of the Parole Board appointees, let us remember that 43 appointments made by the former Harper government had ties to the Conservative Party. A number of former Conservative candidates, Conservative donors, assistants to former Conservative ministers and deputy Conservative ministers were included.
This is not intended to question the qualifications of any of these members, but when Conservatives openly question the appointment process, it is interesting to remind Canadians about how they often referred people to prominent positions. This was considerably pronounced in Quebec, as I previously mentioned, where at the end of the former Conservative government, six of the nine full-time commissioners were Conservative Party supporters.
Since forming government we have placed value on expertise, experience and diversity. All must have the qualifications for such a demanding position. The main objective of the entire correctional and conditional release system is to promote public safety. It is the primary responsibility of any government and I am sure that all in the House would agree.
Since forming government we have also worked tirelessly to address and combat gender-based violence, which is particularly significant in this case, considering the tragic death of this young woman.
I therefore invite the members of opposite parties to support our strategy to prevent and counter gender-based violence, which puts in place preventative measures, supports for survivors and the facilities to develop research and the dissemination of knowledge. I invite my colleagues to support the increase in legal aid to help victims of sexual harassment at work. I invite them to support the increased funding for training, ethics and conduct of judges in the area of gender-based violence, sexual assault and family violence. I invite them to support the funding to prevent violence in dating relationships during adolescence, to fight against bullying and to combat sexual violence in post-secondary institutions.
I know we all want our communities to be safer. We want women like Marylène Levesque not to find themselves in vulnerable situations and to have the resources and supports they need. We want to shed light on what happened in this tragic case to prevent it from happening again, but our analysis and corrective measures should be based on facts.
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