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View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2020-02-04 16:42 [p.926]
Madam Speaker, I would have liked to hear more of what my colleague from Shefford had to say. Her speech was very good. Mine might be a little bit shorter than hers.
I would like to read out the motion again because I think it deserves our attention.
That the House: (a) condemn the decision of the Parole Board of Canada that led to a young woman's death by an inmate during day parole in January of this year; and (b) instruct the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to conduct hearings into this matter, including a review of the changes made by the government in 2017 to the board's nomination process, with the view to recommend measures to be taken to ensure another tragedy such as this never happens again.
I would humbly submit that, had the motion been a bit shorter, more members would have supported it. For example, I would have liked it to simply say, “That the House instruct the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to conduct hearings into this matter with a view to recommending measures to be taken to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.”
I would like to warn the House about some of the tangential issues that have emerged during the debate, and even during question period, concerning the death of Marylène Levesque.
I believe that, while the Parole Board has room for improvement, it is not totally dysfunctional. We need to keep that in mind. Without reading the file and without knowing what was in the reports and what the parole officers' perspective was, people have suggested that Mr. Gallese should never have been let out. People are practically saying that Mr. Gallese should never have been allowed transition and rehabilitation periods and that maybe he could have been released at the end of his sentence with no help adjusting to society. People have basically said that the Parole Board is setting killers free and that we should all be afraid of what it is doing. However, if we look at the statistics, which are a few years old but still relevant, we can see that, from 2013 to 2014, 99% of day parole periods and 97% of full parole periods granted to federal offenders were completed without a repeat offence.
More than 99% of all parole periods, whether day parole or full parole, were completed without the offender committing a violent offence.
Generally speaking, the Parole Board of Canada works. As my colleague reiterated, we are more focused on rehabilitating inmates than punishing them.
There has been some discussion about board member selection. People have called the board members unqualified without knowing the qualifications of the board members in question, or indeed of any board members.
From what some MPs are saying, it seems they are making recommendations and jumping to conclusions before there has even been an investigation. It feels a lot like a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach.
It seems that the crux of the problem is the board member selection process. However, it may go beyond that. Incidentally, Joseph Lainé, one of the board members who made the decision, had more than 10 years of experience on Quebec's parole board. I just wanted to bring that to the attention of my colleagues.
I would like to point out that there several possible causes for the tragedy that occurred. We do not know what was in the reports that generally go with the parole records. Was the analysis of these reports flawed? Were the reports themselves flawed?
We do not know where the problem lies, but people are jumping to conclusions without even having all the documentation required to make an informed decision.
We do not know what arguments were made by Mr. Gallese's parole officer. We know that Mr. Gallese had had inappropriate relationships with women in the past, which would have raised doubts in the board members' minds and might even have prompted the idea that the criteria should be reviewed in the context of this file. We do not know more than that, but people are still jumping to conclusions.
I want to reiterate that we should be careful not to get tunnel vision on a file and shoot the messenger after the fact, after a decision has had tragic consequences. Had Marylène Levesque not died, we might have felt very differently, and we might have thought at first that the members' decision was appropriate.
I am calling on the House to be cautious on this kind of file and to respect the administration of justice.
It is not unheard of for a parolee to be instructed not to come into contact with women. Any instances of sexual or non-sexual contact that do occur must be reported to the parole officer. In this case, it appears as though a meeting was arranged with a woman outside the massage parlour, and this was not reported to the parole officer. That is what I understand. Perhaps that was the problem.
The problem could be any number of things. Perhaps it was the combination of all of these failures that led to this tragedy. Again, this shows just how important it is to examine this case carefully before drawing any conclusions.
I also want to point out that standing committees are able to set their own mandates. We could simply ask the committee to study the situation, without tying its hands, as I mentioned earlier. The committee could call witnesses, including the parole officer, the board members and the people who draft the criteria and guidelines. The committee could then decide to go further and see if there is cause to review the board member appointment process. However, tying the committee's hands right off the bat comes across as more of a political vendetta than a real desire to find a solution.
Nevertheless, I believe that we should support the motion, because it will ultimately lead to an investigation, an in-depth study of the situation and, we hope, recommendations that will ensure that such a tragedy never happens again. Again, we must keep partisanship out of this and not draw conclusions without seeing the whole file. We must have faith in the standing committees and the mandates they set for themselves.
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