Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Jean.
As my party's critic for the status of women, I would first like to point out that the Bloc Québécois offered its deepest condolences last week to Marylène Levesque's loved ones, who deserve answers from the Parole Board of Canada, but also, and especially, concrete action.
Ms. Levesque was murdered by a man the state knew to be violent and who had already committed violent crimes against women. Her death marks Quebec's fifth femicide since December, and we must ask ourselves whether violence against women is being taken seriously enough. It is unfortunate to see yet another woman fall victim to it. Last week's protests in Quebec prove that people are concerned about this type of crime. How is it that a Parole Board of Canada official allowed this man to be with Marylène Levesque?
In my speech, I will briefly talk about my party's position, my questions about the Parole Board and my hope that there will be less violence against women, especially when taking into account the violent nature of the crime we are talking about today.
First, with regard to the Bloc Québécois's position, we believe that we need to be very careful before we comment on any legal proceedings or decisions because, generally speaking, we never have all of the facts.
However, in the case of Marylène Levesque's murder, the facts speak for themselves and show a serious violation of the rules and even of the federal justice and public safety laws. We are appalled by the Parole Board's completely insane decision to grant the accused permission to commit a criminal act with the complicity of the system that should have protected the victim.
The Bloc Québécois will therefore fully support this motion so that we can get to the bottom of the events that led to this murder, which, unfortunately, could have been prevented. People need to have confidence in their justice system, but that confidence has been undermined. However, we need to be careful. We are aware that criticizing the decisions and policies of the justice system is tricky because we need to fully understand the processes and laws, and especially the unique circumstances of each case. We are supporting this motion with the goal of understanding why the laws and processes in place were not correctly applied since the facts indicate that this situation could have been prevented under the existing rules.
We wish to reiterate that the principle of rehabilitation is not in any way at issue. However, in this specific case, it is clear that the board members had all the information they needed to return the offender to prison before the murder occurred; indeed, he had allegedly already breached his parole conditions, particularly those concerning drug use. Furthermore, they had all the information they needed to also prevent him from having contact with Marylène Levesque in the circumstances that we know, namely, that she was a sex worker, which is also prohibited.
This leads me in this second part of my speech to speak about what might have been problematic in the case we wish to debate today. I am using the conditional here because first and foremost we need to conduct an investigation to determine what happened and avoid hasty accusations.
First, let us discuss how dangerous Gallese was. According to the Parole Board, Gallese's risk of reoffending was moderate. Apparently there was contradictory information about this. Why did AFPAD state that he was at high risk of reoffending, when that was not his official status?
Since 1988, Gallese was sentenced four times for being unlawfully in a dwelling-house, mischief in relation to private property, drunk driving and assault of Joanne Lafrance, the mother of his children. For this last offence, he was sentenced to seven days in jail and three years' probation.
This individual was also given a life sentence in 2006 for murdering his wife with a hammer, with no possibility of parole for 15 years.
Why was he released before 2021 despite problems with violence and addiction?
I am also concerned about changes to the nomination process for members of the Parole Board of Canada. 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. In November 2018, the Auditor General of Canada came to the same conclusion regarding offenders under community supervision.
We are therefore very pleased that two investigations are under way, but we are impatiently awaiting the results.
I would like to talk about the criminal investigation first. When Le Devoir asked the Parole Board of Canada if it was aware that an offender's sexual needs were being taken into consideration, the Parole Board referred the paper to Correctional Service Canada, whose spokesperson said the CSC was reviewing the circumstances of the decision.
The Parole Board of Canada is also conducting an internal investigation. We thank the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for asking for that on January 27. The CSC and the board will conduct the investigation jointly. However, even Jean-Claude Boyer, a lawyer and former Parole Board member, thinks the investigation should be external and independent.
As I mentioned earlier, we also learned that the Auditor General of Canada produced a report in 2018 that confirmed that Correctional Service Canada was lacking resources and was not equipped to help certain offenders with the transition, which then increased their risk of reoffending. I will share a quote from the Auditor General's report:
Our audit also found that Correctional Service Canada did not properly manage offenders under community supervision. For example, it did not give parole officers all the information they needed to help offenders with their health needs, and parole officers did not always meet with offenders as often as they should have.
In short, the Auditor General had already noted the lack of resources. The government will have to answer the questions we have all been asking today on what it did or did not do to fix this problem.
Dave Blackburn, a former board member and former Conservative candidate, has also expressed concerns about the new appointment process for board members established in 2017. He said:
That year, Justin Trudeau's 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.
According to him, as a result of the changes, the majority of experienced board members were not reappointed. We know how important experience can be.
In a decision made in September 2019 concerning the 51-year old accused, the Parole Board of Canada wrote:
During the hearing, your parole officer underlined a strategy that was developed with the goal that would allow you to meet women in order to meet your sexual needs.
Why did the Parole Board, in that same document, maintain that it deemed this strategy for meeting women to be inappropriate, adding that it constituted a significant and worrying risk factor?
In this context, the Parole Board expects a review of the analysis grid that led to this approach. It is even noted that as part of this decision, in September 2019, the Parole Board extended Eustachio Gallese's day parole. However, at the same time, his parole application was denied.
It is my wish that women suffer less violence. Last week I heard a journalist talk about an interaction she had with one of Mr. Gallese's security guards. She said that she noticed he had problems with authority and with women. He was also prone to taking on the role of seducer.
I therefore share the reactions of Quebec, whose justice minister, Sonia Lebel, of the Coalition Avenir Québec, is demanding explanations from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on the reasons that led to Mr. Gallese's day parole, given his history of violence against women. Her fellow MPs Véronique Hivon and Manon Massé are also demanding answers.
Parti Québécois member Véronique Hivon is asking for a serious analysis of the situation. Is it a lack of training, a lack of information, or a lack of analytical tools? Was it the system that failed? She is also distressed at the thought that such a thing could happen at a time when there is growing awareness of femicide and the consequences of domestic violence.
Québec Solidaire's Manon Massé believes that lengthy reflection is needed, and she is not ruling out the idea of a public inquiry once the answers to certain questions have been obtained.
According to Quebec's status of women minister, Isabelle Charest, Quebec wants to increase security around victims of domestic violence to prevent violent crimes like the ones in recent months. Funding for shelters—