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Results: 1 - 6 of 6
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-04 10:24 [p.868]
Madam Speaker, in the past, the Conservative government had a reputation for being tough on crime. I am thinking in particular of the criminalization of young offenders. I would like to know how he can reconcile this with the rehabilitation of offenders in the Conservative Party platform.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
That is a different issue, Madam Speaker. It is another matter. The Conservatives are tougher on criminals. We want criminals who deserve to be in prison to stay in prison, but we also believe in rehabilitation. We cannot allow a criminal who killed his wife and is unable to have a relationship with women to be sent to women to satisfy his sexual needs. No one can make me understand that. That is why we need explanations.
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.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, as I begin, I would like to beg the indulgence of the House for one moment to mention the tragic loss of life in my riding Friday night in the community of Sooke, where flooding appears to have taken the lives of Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen. We will learn more about the details of this incident as time goes on, but I believe we also need to look into the larger context of climate change, more severe storms, clear-cut logging and all of these things contributing to more severe flooding in my riding. We want to see if there was a connection to that loss of life.
Many volunteers came out to search when these young men went missing on Friday night, which is a tribute to the strength of volunteerism in the community of Sooke, and I thank all of those volunteers who helped in the search.
Turning to the question before us this morning, I will begin by expressing my condolences to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque for this loss, which is a loss not only to them but to all Canadians.
The NDP will be supporting the motion put forward by the Conservatives today, because obviously we need an investigation as to how something like this could happen in Canada. This tragic incident raises questions about the specific decisions of the Parole Board and parole officers in this case. These are important questions, because our parole system, by and large, serves the public well and helps to guarantee public safety in this country. However, when something clearly goes so far off the rails as to result in a tragic incident such as this, we have to have answers about what happened in our system.
How could this have been allowed to happen when the perpetrator had a previous conviction for the murder of his wife and was under supervision? How in the world did we get to a situation of another young woman losing her life at the hands of the same person for whom Canadians had taken responsibility, through our parole system, and who had been guaranteed to the public would be safe from committing further violence and further actions? These are indeed important questions.
However, the motion perhaps does not go far enough in that it does not really tackle those larger questions about the role of gender-based violence in Canadian society, about how we value women's lives and how we sometimes do not value women's lives to the extent that we should. In particular, when it comes to incidents of intimate partner violence, somehow this is seen as a lesser form of violence and the perpetrator of violence on their partner is somehow seen as less of a threat to Canadian society as a whole than are other violent criminals. This simply makes no sense to me, but it is clearly a factor involved in this case.
We also have to ask ourselves how much we value all women's lives, including the lives of sex workers.
The Parole Board and the parole officers clearly played a role in perpetuating these problematic attitudes about women and about violence toward women in our society, so yes, I support this motion, because we need to look closely at who is being appointed to those parole boards.
Do we have a sufficient number of women on the parole boards to help evaluate risk and set policies to evaluate risk? Are those people being appointed to parole boards for the right reasons? The Conservatives have raised this question. Parole Board appointments should not be a question of patronage, but a question of appointing people who represent the community and the community's values, people who can help set the very important policies that prevent innocent lives from being lost.
We also need to look at the question of the training that we provide to Parole Board members. Are we making sure that they are adequately trained in gender-based violence? Are we making sure that they are adequately trained in the rights and responsibilities that they have as Parole Board members and will not perpetuate these attitudes that sometimes value certain women's lives less than other lives in our society?
Let me talk a little more about the specifics of this incident.
There is the question we need to ask about how risk was evaluated. I will take a moment to read what was said by a UBC law professor, Isabel Grant, who I think raises some very important questions. She said:
I think that [the case] really shows the degree to which we do privilege male entitlement to women's bodies over the safety of women. I think it reflects, too, this idea that men who killed their girlfriends or wives or intimate partners don't present as much of a threat to the public as other men.
Professor Grant went on to say, “And I think that’s problematic, and it also shows how we see the safety of women, particularly the most marginalized women, and how little priority we give it,” meaning how little priority we give their safety.
We need to have this inquiry to ask those questions about risk evaluation and, in particular, how we evaluate the risk of men who have perpetrated violence on women in the past.
Then there is this whole concept that seems to have invaded this case, where the perpetrator had sexual needs that needed to be satisfied. I cannot imagine what this discussion is doing in a question of parole and risk. There is no right of men to have their sexual needs satisfied by women. No such thing exists. I cannot imagine how this became a subject of discussion on a perpetrator about whom the Parole Board had already said was not ready for relationships with women. However, it was suggesting that this person should visit sex workers for sex, as if this were not some kind of a relationship with a woman, for which he would obviously and clearly also not be ready. We have to look at specific cases and ask those tough questions of what attitudes lie behind these kinds of decisions.
Then there is the very problematic question to ask parole officers and parole boards. Since, under our current law, seeking sexual services from sex workers and paying for those services is illegal, are we really talking about a parole system that has suggested a perpetrator on parole should commit an illegal act? By its nature, the commission of that illegal act, should have cancelled his parole and returned him to custody. Are we really talking about the situation where somebody was, from within the system, advising a perpetrator to commit an illegal act? I would like an answer to that. I think all Canadians would like an answer to that very specific question.
That is why the NDP will support the Conservative motion. On those narrow questions, we have some very important answers to get and when we get those answers, we have to look very seriously at changes in policies that allowed these kinds of things to happen.
When we come to the broader context, we have to ask ourselves about a corrections system that had a perpetrator in custody for 15 years and failed to rehabilitate him. We all know there are challenges in our corrections system with lack of resources. We all know there are challenges raised by a very large number of people in our corrections system about offenders who have mental health and addiction problems. These are real challenges that our system has to face.
However, I would submit there are some cases where rehabilitation will fail and when that rehabilitation fails, we have a responsibility in our corrections system to keep the person in custody or to carefully supervise the individual's release. That broader question is raised again about how successful we are at rehabilitation and in the cases of violence against women especially, how seriously do we take the failure to rehabilitate men.
In the broader context of the safety of sex workers, there is what I call a very interesting twist, and I do not really like the tone of that word, in this case. Clearly the perpetrator had visited this massage parlour before, which we know from many reports. He had been banned because of his violence toward the women who worked in the that parlour. If this were a normal place of work at which violence occurred, it would have been reported to the police and would have resulted in the revocation of his parole. However, under the current legislation, a massage parlour is illegal. Therefore, it is illegal to provide a safe place for sex work to take place. We therefore have the cruel irony that the massage parlour could not report this person to the police without the risk of shutting down the safe place that had been established for sex work to take place.
Therefore, now we are into the broader question of our laws on sex work in Canada. Members in the House will know, as I have spoken on this many times, that I have worked with sex workers in my riding on a harm reduction strategy, not a judgment strategy, and a rights-based strategy, not a rescue-based strategy. It is very important that we look at this case as an example of what is wrong with our current restrictive laws on sex work. Many people say that we only criminalize the johns. That is not actually true. This is not what happened in the legislation.
We criminalize all kinds of things around sex work that makes sex work more dangerous. We criminalize the safe places for it to take place, such as brothels or massage parlours. Those really are safe places for women to perform sex work. We criminalize hiring security to provide safety, as that would be under the provision that someone is somehow profiting from sex work. while being hired to provide security.
I could go on with a list of things that we criminalize all the way around sex work. Each and every one of those provisions makes sex work more dangerous for the women involved.
I have the privilege of having the PEERS sex worker drop-in centre in my riding. Also, when I was on council, it was in my municipality. I learned from meeting with sex workers in my riding and from the staff at the PEERS centre what sex workers' organizations can do when they are empowered to provide safety to their members.
Rather than criminalizing sex work, I would like to see us take a harm reduction strategy that empowers sex worker organizations. What do I mean by that? It is more than just a nice phrase. It means, who provides “bad date lists”, as they are called? Who keeps track of the men who are violent toward sex workers? Sex worker organizations have that information. One of the functions they perform in every local venue is to make women who are involved in sex work aware of those men who are violent and dangerous. We need to support sex workers in providing the service. Unfortunately, we cannot involve the police in that at this time, because of the criminalization of all these pieces around sex work.
The PEERS drop-in centre in my riding provides many social services for women in the sex trade who are faced with housing and child care crises and who face all the same challenges that other workers face in our society. Once again, the key to all those services is not judgment about why women are in sex work, not judgment about whether sex work is a good or a bad thing, but how we can make lives better and safer for those who are already involved in sex work.
We have a charity based in Victoria called “HeroWork”. HeroWork provides volunteers to help renovate the premises of community social service organizations. Most members of Parliament will be quite aware that one of the problems our charities have is that their infrastructure is quite old and decrepit. Their workplaces are not very good places to work. Many of them are mould infested and have other real health challenges.
HeroWork selected as one of its projects the renovation of the PEERS drop-in centre. It mobilized literally hundreds of volunteers around the community to go in and makeover the drop-in centre and to make it a more welcoming and supportive place, including creating a community kitchen so it could provide meals, showers and other services to those who were involved in sex work in my community.
The interesting thing we found was that the project of renovating the drop-in centre brought volunteers from all over the community, who may not have otherwise gotten to know sex workers. This played a large role in changing their attitudes toward what happens in sex work in my community.
In this debate, it is important that we extend our thinking to whether we have taken the right approach to harm reduction in sex work and how that connects directly to the incident we have in front of us, which caused the loss of life. Many hundreds of sex workers have lost their lives in the country.
It beggars belief that those involved in our parole and corrections system could think that sending a person, who has a record of violence with women, to the most vulnerable women in our society and not expect a bad and tragic outcome, like the one that occurred in Quebec City.
First, we need to look at the specific decisions that were taken by the Parole Board in its review of the actions of the parole officer. Again, after teaching criminal justice for 20 years and having a a federal prison in my riding, I know that most of the time this system does very good work on behalf of all Canadians. Let us look at the specific decision and figure out what went wrong.
Second, I am supporting the motion, but I would like to see us expand the terms of reference, so we think about those larger issues in our society of gender-based violence, intimate partner violence and the safety of sex workers. When we have taken a look at those issues, then we will have a responsibility to act, as legislators in the House, to make this a better and safer Canada for all women, including sex workers.
View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
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.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Markham—Stouffville.
In response to questions from the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, I would like to start by again extending our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque. This young woman's death was tragic and I hope that we can learn from the board of investigation that is currently under way how this kind of tragedy can be avoided in the future. We need to have solid facts in front of us and I have full confidence that the board of investigation will shed light on the circumstances that led to this tragic incident.
The Parole Board of Canada is guided by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in all its decisions. Under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the board is responsible for making decisions to grant, deny, terminate or revoke day and full parole for federal offenders serving sentences of two years or more.
Under the CCRA, all offenders in federal custody, including those serving indeterminate sentences or life sentences, become eligible for parole at a time set by a judge during sentencing. This is not to say that all offenders are granted conditional release, but that all offenders must under the law be considered for conditional release at some point in their sentence.
Before granting any form of conditional release, Parole Board members must be satisfied that the offender will not pose an undue risk to the community and that the release of the offender will contribute to the protection of society. Conditional release contributes to the protection of society by facilitating the reintegration of the offender into society as a law-abiding citizen. Gradual and supervised release provide the best protection for our communities and day parole is one of the steps in the continuum of releases.
I would like to underline that offenders serving life or indeterminate sentences released on parole remain under supervision by Correctional Service of Canada for the rest of their lives. This is an important point as even if an offender is in the community, that offender continues to serve his or her sentence and is subject both to standard conditions as well as any special conditions that the Parole Board of Canada deems necessary for CSC to manage the offender's risk to the community.
Offenders on day parole must return nightly to a community-based residential facility or halfway house unless otherwise authorized by the Parole Board of Canada.
An offender can be returned to prison at any time if he or she violates parole conditions, commits a new offence or is deemed to pose an increased risk to the community. Offenders on day parole are not free. They are supervised by Correctional Service of Canada and subject to a number of special conditions.
Board members render decisions that are crucial to public safety. That is why this government worked to ensure that the process of appointing board members was merit-based and free from political interference.
Upon appointment, Parole Board of Canada members complete an intensive, five-week board member orientation program. During that time, they receive training on relevant law, policy and risk assessment by the Parole Board of Canada in partnership with key academics and practitioners in the field of criminal justice. This is followed by ongoing mentoring and coaching by the regional vice-chair, experienced board members and the regional trainer. No board member is assigned any decision-making responsibility until that member has fully completed training and has the full confidence of the regional vice-chair.
Board members also participate in continuous learning and development opportunities throughout their mandate.
The primary emphasis on board member training is to ensure that members understand the board's legal authorities. Public safety is the number one priority for the board in its decision-making.
It is important to note that in the vast majority of cases, day parole is completed successfully without violent reoffending. In fact, in 2018-19, 99.9% of offenders on day parole were not convicted of a violent offence during their supervision period. This demonstrates that, in almost all cases, day parole helps to gradually reintegrate offenders back into Canadian society and contributes to public safety.
I would like to assure the members that the government shares the concerns of Canadians around this case. That is why the Correctional Service of Canada and the Parole Board of Canada are convening a joint board of investigation into the circumstances that led to this incident, to ensure that all established protocols were followed and that lessons are learned. Let me reiterate that Parole Board of Canada members are selected by a rigorous, open, transparent and merit-based process. Once selected, they are given exhaustive training on relevant law, policy and risk assessment. They are committed to continuous learning and development and they take very seriously their duty to protect the safety of Canadians. This commitment is demonstrated through the PBC's parole outcomes.
As the board of investigation moves forward, I hope that we can determine what exactly happened in this instance so that we can learn from this tragedy and take steps to ensure that this kind of situation is not repeated. I would like to assure the members that the investigation will be conducted swiftly and effectively, as none of us want to see this type of tragedy repeated in the future. Marylène Levesque and her family and friends deserve no less than our utmost efforts in this regard.
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