Good afternoon. My name is André Samson. I live in Victoriaville, in the province of Quebec. I am 51 years old and I am unable to work. I live on my disability pension.
On August 1, 2002, my brother Martin Samson and his spouse Marie-France Foucault were murdered in their home in Victoriaville. The person who murdered my brother and his spouse was found not criminally responsible.
The accused was arrested. He was in the Hôtel-Dieu d'Arthabaska hospital for a few hours, then he ran away. The Sûreté du Québec helicopter and the response team spared no efforts to track him down. After several days of searching, he was finally caught. He was selling things to make some money and leave the city. The day after his arrest, he was charged with two counts of murder. The trial lasted a year and a half. We were very surprised to hear that the murderer was found not criminally responsible, because he was a very intelligent person studying at a school for adults.
Since then, we have not received much help. My family and I support Bill C-54, which will provide more information to victims and help them feel safer. Access to information with help families feel safer, because part of the fear and insecurity experienced by families of murdered persons stems from a lack of information in this NCR system.
My family would very much have liked to know what was happening at the mental health review board hearings. We were never kept informed of the proceedings. We were never invited to the review board hearings. We were never given an opportunity to speak. We were cast aside. We were in a vacuum and we had no documents. For four or five years, we did not know where he was living. Had my girlfriend not been a court clerk, my family and I would not have known which hospital he was staying at. Had she not been my girlfriend, she would have never told me.
My family was not informed. We had no idea whether the attacker was taking his medication and whether he responded to treatment. We had no idea whether the attacker had any rights to leave the hospital or when he would be able to leave. We had no idea whether he was accompanied when he went out. We were never told when he was discharged from the hospital. I found out two weeks later. My girlfriend told me and I told my family.
My parents had to take steps to keep themselves safe because they were afraid that the attacker might go to their house and threaten them. We were not aware of the conditions of his release.
One day in January 2011, I was in the shopping centre and saw the attacker who had killed my brother and his wife. When I saw him, I was frustrated and afraid. I was under stress. I was at a loss.
Victims like us deserve to be part of the legal process. But we have been completely excluded. I often wonder whether we, as victims and as human beings, also have a right to security and to information. We have been denied our rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We should be respected as victims because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that Canadians have the right to life and security.
My brother and his wife were deprived of that right and, to make matters worse, the members of my family and I had no right to security, as we were never informed about his release. Security goes hand in hand with the information provided to victims. How can we feel secure if we do not know when a murderer will be let out of prison and when he can roam the streets and come into our neighbourhood?
This bill gives the right to security back to victims. At the moment, the aggressors have better protection than the victims. This legislation will provide more supervision to those declared not criminally responsible. By remaining under supervision longer, and by having more access to medical resources, the aggressors will be able to stay in their rehabilitation programs longer.
Having information would have made us safer. This bill will let victims be informed and feel safe. It restores dignity to the families of those who have been murdered.