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Results: 1 - 15 of 256
View Karen Vecchio Profile
Mr. Speaker, the government failed to protect Marylène Levesque from a murderer who had a history of violence against women. The Parole Board has reluctantly undertaken an internal investigation, but no one trusts it to investigate itself. Canada's correctional investigator is calling for an independent investigation into this case to be certain that all facts are known and to make sure that this never happens again.
Will the Prime Minister commit today to opening an independent investigation so that Canadians know that the government will not cut corners on protecting women?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-02-26 14:48 [p.1607]
Mr. Speaker, we extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque. It is a tragic loss for any family to have to face. The individual has been arrested and is facing charges.
We know people have difficult questions to ask, and that is why Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board are launching a board of investigation into the circumstances that led to this tragic case. I will emphasize that the review includes two external vice-chairs. The findings of course will be made public.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
Mr. Speaker, what happened was a terrible tragedy. That is why the family wants answers and everyone wants answers. Yesterday, Canada's correctional investigator clearly said that the internal investigation requested by the government was problematic and that there must be an external investigation.
Will the Prime Minister ask the Parole Board of Canada and the Correctional Service of Canada for an external investigation?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-02-26 14:49 [p.1607]
Mr. Speaker, we extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque. It is a tragic loss for any family to have to face.
The individual has been arrested and is facing charges. We know people are asking difficult questions. That is why Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board of Canada are launching a board of investigation to examine the circumstances that led to this tragic case. The investigation includes two external vice-chairs. The findings will be made public, of course.
View Jag Sahota Profile
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-02-19 16:37 [p.1268]
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to stand in this place to deliver my maiden speech on behalf of my constituents in Calgary Skyview. Being elected as their representative is a very humbling experience, and I am very grateful for this opportunity. I have lived most of my life in Calgary and I cannot think of a better place to grow up. We are so fortunate for our rich, diverse communities that thrive on hard work and a true sense of belonging to Canada.
Throughout my campaign, I met many of my constituents to learn from them how best I could help make their life easier as their member of Parliament. Most notably, I met a young woman in my riding who said to me, “I have never seen anyone who looks like me do what you are doing. I want to go to school and do what you do.” This sentiment meant a lot to me. What she saw was the first Sikh female to be elected in the House of Commons from Alberta. Other constituents would say “Our daughters are looking up to you.”
I am proud to stand here today to represent not just those young women in my riding, but anyone who has dreamed of a life in service and of being here. I began imagining my journey to this place when I was really young. I would watch Amnesty International and my heart went out to those people. I would sit there and cry. Their stories moved me. I decided then I would practise law. Being a lawyer has been a tremendous honour for me. It is something I am very passionate about.
This is why this legislation we are debating today is very important to me as a lawyer, as a woman, and now as the deputy shadow cabinet minister for women and gender equality. I want to thank Ms. Ambrose for tabling this important legislation in the previous Parliament and for her dedication to this crucial issue.
Her bill, Bill C-337, received widespread support from parliamentarians and stakeholders. I am encouraged to see it moving forward. I am also pleased to see it as one of our commitments in our platform during the campaign.
Similar to Bill C-337, the bill we are debating today, Bill C-5, adds new eligibility for lawyers seeking appointment to the judiciary to require the completion of a recent and comprehensive education in sexual assault law as well as social context education. It requires the Canadian Judicial Council to submit an annual report to Parliament regarding the details on seminars offered on matters relating to sexual assault law and the number of judges attending. It does this while still maintaining the balance between judiciary independence and a fair criminal justice system, which is very important to me and to all Canadians.
The rationale for the need for the bill is all too familiar, given the recent spotlight on the treatment of sexual assault victims during trial. Sadly, this is certainly not something that is new. Let us explore the current state as it stands now. There is piecemeal training and education available in certain jurisdictions, but it is not mandatory.
We saw in 2016, a judge was found to have relied on myths about the expected behaviour of a victim of sexual abuse. That case was overturned on appeal for obvious reasons. We have seen instances of judges and the use of insensitive language when referring to victims, which can further lead to stigma.
In 2019, there were nearly a dozen cases going through Canada's court system that shed light on how judges continue to rely on myths and stereotypes when informing their decisions on sexual assault cases. Here we are, still seeing similar misinformation about the experience of sexual assault victims or victims of abuse, which can lead to poor decisions and, as we have seen, possible miscarriages of justice, sometimes resulting in new trials.
Retrials can be incredibly painful for the complainants, potentially further revictimizing them. The way victims are treated during their court proceedings as well as in the public eye we know is a major hindrance to reporting the crime in the first place. Victims witness how other sexual assault victims are treated in the justice system and are concerned that if they come forward, they will be treated in the same way.
We know that sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes in Canada. Of reported cases, only 12% result in a criminal conviction within six years, compared to 23% of physical assaults, as reported by Statistics Canada. We know the reasons for under-reporting include shame, guilt and stigma of sexual victimization. Victims also report the belief that they would not see a positive outcome in the justice system. This simply cannot stand.
What can we do? The best way to prevent this kind of sentiment is through education and training. The path forward that this legislation sets, similar to Bill C-337, allows for more confidence in the criminal justice system by ensuring lawyers who are appointed to the bench are trained and educated in this very specific type of case.
The future state, with this bill passed, is the hope that with education and training, the stories we have once heard of victims made to feel “less than” will not be repeated. This legislation is intended to help reduce the stigma of coming forward, of reporting the crimes and seeing justice prevail for the victims.
The hope is that with education and training, the victims of sexual assault will be treated with respect and avoid, at all costs, being revictimized, which can be incredibly traumatizing for the individual.
As Ms. Ambrose said during her testimony before the status of women committee, “Really...for me it's about building confidence. Women do not have confidence in our justice system when it comes to sexual assault law.”
This has to change if we are going to see an increase in sexual assaults being reported and convicted. This piece of legislation will bring us one step closer to eliminating barriers and giving victims of sexual assault more confidence to come forward.
Unfortunately, as we know, it is not just with the justice system where we see these types of myths and misunderstanding. The recent tragic death of a young woman in Quebec sheds a light on the broad scope of this issue. Marylène Levesque was killed at the hands of a convicted murderer who had a history of domestic violence and was granted day parole.
At a hearing into the offender's previous request for full parole, the board heard from his parole officer that while living in a halfway house, he had been allowed to have his sexual needs met. How was a man with a history of violence against women granted permission to have his sexual needs met?
That is why, in light of this horrific crime, we would like to explore studying an amendment to this bill to capture parole officers and Parole Board members in this legislation in the hopes that something like this does not happen again.
I look forward to further study on this potential amendment and debate on this piece of legislation. I hope it garners the same support in the House as Bill C-337 did. I hope this bill passes quickly as this will only move us forward as a society and help grow confidence in our justice system.
View Karen Vecchio Profile
Mr. Speaker, after your great explanation as to when a vote will and will not count, I have viewed people walking by the curtains after voting. I would like to call out the member for Cumberland—Colchester for not remaining in her seat during that period of time.
View Lenore Zann Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Lenore Zann Profile
2020-02-05 15:24 [p.958]
Mr. Speaker, I was in my seat when the vote was counted. The clerks said my name, I looked at them, I nodded and I sat back down.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I also rise on a point of order. I should have known better. I was getting up to let the member know that we have to remain in our seats for the entire time.
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-04 10:09 [p.866]
Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Wednesday, February 5, 2020, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move on the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
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.
View Glen Motz Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the concern he has raised.
Could the hon. member describe the reaction of Canadians in his home province of Quebec, and how their reaction resonates with what many other Canadians have been thinking and feeling with respect to the parole system? It is at the crux of this issue and how we need to address some of the issues that have Canadians concerned for public safety.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
The situation has been incredibly explosive in Quebec. People do not understand. They wonder how our government could allow a murderer on parole to meet with women.
A killer of women got permission to visit women to have his sexual needs met. People are asking us, as elected officials, to do something. We too often hear people say that a topic will last for three or four days, or maybe a week, but then it disappears and the situation keeps happening. People always say that politicians are all talk and no action. That is why we are here today.
I am pleased that this motion was moved and that we have an opposition day to debate this topic. I hope that my colleagues in all parties will support the motion, because we need to get to the bottom of this.
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