In all likelihood, the strategy did not protect all women and implied that there are “sub-women” in our society, which is outrageous.
Finally, CSC and the halfway house need to explain their lax approach to supervision.
On the second point in the motion, members interested in renewal were, in the past, required to write a letter to the chairperson. The chairperson would then decide whether or not to recommend renewal to the minister's office. This procedure made it possible to renew the appointment of deserving members who wished to continue serving Canada.
In March 2016, when my annual evaluation was conducted, I told the vice-chairperson of Quebec about my interest in seeking a renewal. He informed me that the Trudeau government was going to implement a new process for appointing members. Some time later, the national office explained to me that I had to apply and start the whole process all over again. The old process for renewing members therefore no longer existed.
In the meantime, a group of about 10 members from Quebec, including myself, began discussing the impact of the changes in the appointment process on the PBC's mandate.
There was no doubt in our minds that these changes would have a major impact on PBC operations, on the erosion of member expertise, knowledge and experience, on the lack of mentoring at hearings by experienced members, on the work environment and on the mental strain on members and staff.
In late November 2017, we sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to the Minister of Public Safety and to the Clerk of the Privy Council expressing our serious concerns.
I am quoting from this letter:
It is well known that an organization such as ours requires new members on a regular basis. But it also needs a sufficient number of experienced members with good performance records in order to pass on corporate memory, mentor new members who require 18 to 24 months of training, and maintain the very high quality decisions needed to protect the public. Our primary mandate is to protect the public and we are concerned that this mandate is currently at risk.
In addition, we asked the Prime Minister to keep the member renewal process in place. Neither Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Goodale nor Mr. Wernick responded to the letter. Why is that?
The content of the letter was of the utmost importance, as it alerted them to the potential impact on protecting Canadian society.
On January 11, 2018, I finished my term on the board without knowing what would happen. In April 2018, I was interviewed for less than 30 minutes by a selection committee, none of whom had worked as a member.
I believe that the crux of the problem in the Gallese case is directly related to the new appointment process put in place by the Trudeau government. As a result of this new process, the board has lost considerable autonomy and independence to recruit members. Because of this, the majority of those with experience and who had been appointed by the previous government were ousted.
The new process was unique, in that it included a selection committee member from the Prime Minister's Office.
In addition, the executive vice-chairperson appointed in 2018, Sylvie Blanchet, whose husband had a well known relationship with an influential Liberal minister from New Brunswick, also sat on the selection committee. The inclusion of Ms. Blanchet and a member of her staff allowed the Prime Minister to influence the decisions about who would and would not be shortlisted for appointment. Moreover, eliminating the renewal process for experienced members forced them to overhaul the entire appointment process.
This new process was the Trudeau government's way of cleaning house, of selecting whomever it wanted. Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe that these choices were made at the expense of public safety.
The board has not been able to absorb the sudden shock of an almost complete changing of the guard of its members in the space of a few months. Much of the difficult work of a member is learned on the ground, making quality decisions on cases and participating in hearings. Experienced members act as mentors by transferring the practical knowledge, experience and, most importantly, expertise needed to conduct risk assessments. Hence the obvious and valid practice of pairing an experienced member with a new member at hearings.
That's exactly what was missing in the specific case of Eustachio Gallese. Members with the experience and expertise required would have detected that the strategy would directly lead to an increased risk of recidivism and put society at risk.
Make no mistake: in 2018, the PBC Quebec region underwent a real purge of its experienced members. The numbers speak for themselves: only two out of 16 experienced members survived the purge. None of the other appointments were renewed, with no word of an explanation. That therefore means that 14 new members were appointed.
To add to this nonsense, I have learned that the members who signed the letter to the Prime Minister were investigated by the Liberal Research Bureau. An anonymous source sent me a document outlining the results of the investigation on me, which dates from the spring of 2018. This is extremely worrisome and it is not an acceptable practice in a rule-of-law country like Canada.
The changes to the appointment process have, in my view, had a direct incidence on section 3.1 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. That section states that “the protection of society is the paramount consideration for the Service in the corrections process.”
I would like to conclude my remarks by stating loud and clear that the internal investigation commissioned by the Minister of Public Safety will not shed light on the full extent of the failings that led to the murder of Marylène Levesque, nor will it consider the possibility that the strategy applied by the parole officer, approved by his case management team and endorsed by board members, may bear some curious resemblance to criminal negligence.
Consequently, it is imperative that an external investigation be carried out by former members or former judges and that the full results be made public. The fundamental objective is to understand the shortcomings that occurred in this sad case and to correct them as soon as possible. This strategy not only affects sex workers, but our entire society as well.
It is also in Canada's interest to learn about correctional and parole practices in other countries, including the United Kingdom, where in some cases, three members sit in on hearings and may be assisted by mental health or criminology experts. Members with political affiliations are also clearly identified.
Moreover, to get specific answers with respect to the new appointment process, it seems essential and consequential that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau be questioned, as he spearheaded the changes. In this case, a murder could have been prevented.
Finally, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Marylène Levesque.