moved for leave to introduce Bill C-247, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (controlling or coercive conduct).
Mr. Speaker, today I have a private members' bill that would help address domestic violence in Canada by making controlling or coercive conduct in an intimate relationship a criminal offence. Right now police often lack the ability to intervene in domestic violence cases before physical violence takes place, even though significant harm may have already been inflicted on one of the partners. People living in fear of violence should not have to wait to experience violence before receiving help and protection. This bill acknowledges that victims of controlling or coercive conduct suffer serious harms that are not overtly violent. Harms resulting from fear of violence often include declining mental and physical health, and limitations on the partner's ability to carry on an independent and autonomous life.
During this pandemic, governments have told Canadians to stay home to stay safe, but unfortunately not every home is a safe place. In fact, I know in my riding, as in most communities, police have seen a spike in domestic violence calls during the pandemic. Creating a new offence for controlling or coercive conduct will not only help stop the serious harm already being suffered, but also facilitate earlier intervention by police, which may avert physical violence later on.
If this bill had already been enforced, it might have been possible to prevent the shootings in Portapique, Nova Scotia, earlier this year. The shootings began with an incident of domestic violence between individuals whose problematic relationships had been brought to the attention of the police by neighbours and friends numerous times, though without ever rising to the level of physical violence that would have allowed police to act. This bill will fill that gap. The federal ombudsman for victims of crime has recently called for adding this kind of provision to our Criminal Code, and a similar bill has been enacted in the U.K.
I hope the government will support this private members' bill and help facilitate its early passage through the House.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)