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View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Rivière-du-Nord. With his expertise in law, he will be able to probe into the specific details of the case that brings us here today.
Today's motion is a particularly sensitive matter, because it is about the death of a young woman. This woman was very close to my own age, and her death could have been prevented.
I am speaking as the new Bloc Québécois critic for public safety and emergency preparedness. I am honoured to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois regarding the security and protection of Quebeckers and Canadians alike. Like my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, I find this case totally incomprehensible, especially since it is about violence against a woman, committed by a killer whose record was well known.
I am speaking today to make sure that murders like the one committed under the circumstances that led to the death of Marylène Levesque never happen again. Today, the Bloc Québécois will be supporting the Conservative Party's motion, the first point of which condemns the actions of the Parole Board of Canada. As we know, those actions led to the horrific death of a 22-year-old woman last month. This young woman was murdered by an offender who was out on day parole.
When it comes to justice, one must always be careful about criticizing decisions and policies. It is important to really understand the procedures, the laws and, most of all, the unique features of each case. The reason we are supporting this motion today is that we want to understand why the laws were not applied properly and why the procedures were not followed. The murder of Marylène Levesque could and should have been prevented.
We are not challenging the whole notion of rehabilitation. The purpose of putting an inmate who was behind bars for years on supervised parole is to rehabilitate him. In my opinion, supervised parole does not mean allowing an inmate to obtain services to satisfy his sexual needs. It is both unacceptable and in violation of the Criminal Code. In this particular case, it is clear that parole officers had information that could have prevented this murder.
First of all, the inmate could have been under closer supervision before the murder because he had allegedly violated his parole conditions previously. Second, officials could certainly have forbidden him from contacting Marylène Levesque as he did, because she was a sex worker. That seems like a logical approach to me.
I will repeat that we must be prudent when commenting on legal processes or decisions. Generally, we do not know all the facts. In the case of the murder of Ms. Levesque, the facts indicate a serious failure to comply with regulations and even federal laws governing justice and public safety. It is outrageous and even mind-boggling that the board gave the accused permission to commit a crime, that is to use the services of a prostitute with the complicity of the system that was to ensure the protection of his victim. Quebec's justice and law enforcement authorities have spoken out about this.
Quebec City police chief Robert Pigeon condemned the Parole Board decision that let an offender commit another crime, that is to see prostitutes. I will quote Mr. Pigeon: “How can someone on parole, on day parole, obtain sexual services for consideration? That is a crime under the Criminal Code.”
The chief also raised the issue of how people are chosen to sit on the various committees. We in the Bloc Québécois would also like to know. There have also been many reactions in the National Assembly. The justice minister, Sonia LeBel, like everyone else, is demanding explanations from Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, particularly regarding the reasons that led to Mr. Gallese's day parole, given his history of violence against women.
Parti Québécois member Véronique Hivon, true to form in such cases, is asking for a serious analysis of the situation and asking some vital questions. Is it a lack of training, a lack of information or a lack of analytical tools? Was it the system that failed? Personally, I think so. The system has failed. It failed Marylène Levesque, and it failed all of us.
The Auditor General of Canada produced a report in 2018, in which he stated that, because of a lack of resources, the Correctional Service of Canada could not ensure inmates' successful transition from custody to day parole, increasing the risk of reoffending.
Here we have proof that the Correctional Service of Canada is not adequately managing offenders under supervision in the community. It is completely unacceptable.
If we want our rehabilitation programs to work properly, they need to be appropriately resourced. The lack of resources had already been raised by the Auditor General. Today, the government is forced to answer the questions we are all asking ourselves, namely, what it has or has not done to fix the problem. What is most deplorable is that it took the murder of a 22-year-old woman to raise these questions.
The Bloc Québécois will also support this motion because it calls on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to conduct hearings into this matter.
The Minister of Public Safety may well have requested an internal investigation, but this means that it will be conducted by Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board of Canada, the two agencies involved in this case. In my opinion, this kind of internal justice is wrong-headed, hence the need for an external investigation. Jean-Claude Boyer, a former member of the Parole Board of Canada, also believes that the investigation should be conducted externally, and independently. I would like to reiterate that this is entirely reasonable and necessary.
The Bloc Québécois will also support this motion because it calls for a review of the changes to the Parole Board of Canada nomination process made by the Liberals in 2017.
According to a survey conducted by the Parole Board in May 2019, 70% of parole officers said that they were not able to do their work properly or to properly protect the public. We are talking here about the safety of people we know, people in all of the regions of Quebec and Canada. In November 2018, the Auditor General of Canada came to a similar conclusion regarding offenders supervised in the community. How is it that nothing has been done since 2018?
Former Parole Board member Dave Blackburn expressed concerns about the new member appointment process established in 2017. He said, and I quote: “That year, the...government changed the member renewal process. Members who had already been appointed to the Parole Board had to go through the same appointment process as new candidates.”
What we understand from that is that, as a result of the new process, most experienced members did not have their mandates renewed. We can already see a number of problems there.
In closing, the Bloc Québécois will support this motion so that we can get to the bottom of the events that led to this murder, which, I repeat, could have and should have been avoided.
As a woman, as a Quebecker and as the Bloc Québécois critic for public safety and emergency preparedness, I want to offer my sincere condolences to Marylène Levesque's family. I would also like to tell them that we will do everything in our power to get to the bottom of what happened in order to honour Marylène's memory and ensure the safety of women in Quebec and Canada.
The goal is obviously to implement real measures to prevent any other such tragedies from happening in the future. The Bloc Québécois wants people to have confidence in their justice system, but that confidence has been seriously undermined.
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