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.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.
Today is an important day for the official opposition, but it is especially important for the family of Marylène Levesque, which is entitled to answers. Marylène Levesque was a 22-year-old woman who was murdered two weeks ago in Quebec City, in my region.
This tragedy really had an impact on me. I simply cannot understand how it came to be that an inmate on parole was allowed to have sex with women. Somehow, someone recommended that this man have sexual relations even though he killed his ex-partner in 2004 and was sentenced to life in prison in 2006.
The first question we should ask ourselves in this case is why the individual was released before his 15-year sentence was up. The second question is about how the parole officer's strategy was implemented and why this officer's report was signed and endorsed by two Parole Board members. The report stated that the paroled inmate had a problem with women. That was clear. The man killed his ex-partner and, for nearly 15 years, demonstrated that he was not capable of engaging in normal relationships with women.
The parole report indicates, and I quote:
During the hearing, your parole officer underlined a strategy that was developed with the goals that would allow you to meet women in order to meet your sexual needs. Your CMT...gave permission for such meetings provided that you were transparent.
That is the issue that prompted us to move the motion we are debating today in the House of Commons. How could two board members agree to and sign a report that allowed a woman killer, someone with psychological problems in his relationships with women, to meet his sexual needs with women? That implies that he can have dealings with prostitutes and that he can have a relationship with other women. However, these women have no idea who he is or where he comes from. Those members basically let a fox into the henhouse.
The Quebec City region, Quebec and now all of Canada are appalled by this story. Let us not forget that Marylène Levesque paid with her life because an inmate like Eustachio Gallese was given that permission.
These issues are making us question how the Parole Board of Canada could have undergone such a complete transformation in recent years. The changes began from the moment we changed governments in 2015. The contracts of the experienced members already on the board were not renewed. The government decided that members would be politically appointed, and so people were appointed. Surely they were good people. I do not want to accuse those individuals, but the fact remains that people were politically appointed to the Parole Board, to strategic positions, without any support from experienced members. In the workplace, a senior employee is usually always paired with a new one to ensure the transfer of knowledge.
These are fundamental questions, because these people have a tremendous responsibility to ensure public safety. They recommend and sign off on granting parole to murderers, people who have been sentenced to life in prison by a court. They apply for parole, and based on various criteria, their applications are approved. In this particular case, a man who had murdered a woman was allowed to meet with women to satisfy his sexual needs. That is incomprehensible. No one can understand this. Even Robert Pigeon, the chief of the Service de police de la Ville de Québec, said in an interview last weekend that he had never seen anything like this in his whole career and that he could not understand how this could happen.
There is another problem. In 2018, the Auditor General of Canada reported that there were problems with the supervision and accommodation of offenders on parole.
This combination of factors led to an explosive situation. I will say this again, Marylène Levesque paid with her life. Whatever some people may say, Marylène was earning a living as an “escort”. It is currently illegal to purchase sexual services. However, we have seen that a government report proposed enabling him to meet with women and, indirectly, with “escorts”, which is illegal. Canadians have many questions about what happened.
Furthermore, what happened to Marylène Levesque was not an isolated incident. Two years ago, we spent a long time debating the murder of Tori Stafford in this very chamber.
Many will remember this Canadian little girl who was abducted, raped, tortured and murdered by Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic. Her body was found in Ontario. It was an unbelievable tragedy, and the murderers were given life sentences. After just six years, however, we learned that Ms. McClintic had been transferred from a maximum-security penitentiary to the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, a minimum-security facility in Saskatchewan. Since Ms. McClintic claimed to be indigenous, she was sent to a healing lodge where there were only cameras and residents can open the door and leave whenever they like. No one in Canada could understand how that could have happened. We raised the matter in the House of Commons, but the Liberals did not want to change anything. After considerable pressure and public outrage, the government finally sent Ms. McClintic back to a regular prison.
Those decisions have prompted many, many questions about the entire decision-making process. That is why we would like a review of how the Parole Board of Canada operates and how, and on what basis, decisions are made.
Quebec's justice minister, Sonia LeBel, summed up the situation surrounding the murder of Marylène Levesque in a single sentence, “Reintegration has to be a consideration in the parole process, but the overriding principle has to be, first and foremost, the safety and security of the public, the safety of our citizens”.
On that, in 2017, eight former PBC members sent a letter to the Prime Minister. The following two paragraphs provide a clear summary of the situation, “We are Parole Board of Canada members who wish to share our serious concerns about the member reappointment process, which does not seem to be transparent”.
Former members also mentioned the following in that letter: "Our primary mandate is to protect the public, and we fear that this mandate is currently in jeopardy”.
This is a letter that was sent in 2017 by eight former Parole Board members who were already flagging the problem. They never received a response from the Prime Minister.
We must not get distracted by the life that Marylène Levesque chose to live. We believe that the important thing to understand is that the parole conditions of the individual in question were unacceptable and the entire process has to be reviewed, including the way Parole Board members are appointed.