Evidence of meeting #5 for Public Safety and National Security in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was risk.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Philippe Bensimon  Criminologist, As an Individual
Dave Blackburn  Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual
Catherine Latimer  Executive Director, John Howard Society of Canada

10:15 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

Look, people know their jobs very well. When a serious case is involved, the parole officer will recommend that the inmate be placed in a CCC. The inmate can be sent to a CRF, but there are risks. In a CRF, the inmate isn't monitored in the same way. Send someone serving a short sentence of three, four, five or six years. Don't send inmates serving life sentences or people who have served 20 or 30 years behind bars. It's suicide. It's setting the fox to mind the geese. Release the inmate gradually. CRFs have a curfew and staff. The inmate will be monitored continuously. It's a good transition from the penitentiary. In a CRF, the man finds himself in Florida. This doesn't work.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Mr. Trudel, we're going to have to leave it there, merci.

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Denis Trudel Bloc Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Thank you.

March 12th, 2020 / 10:15 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

Thank you, Mr. Trudel.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

The final five minutes go to you, Mr. Sikand.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

I may share the remainder of my time with PS Joël Lightbound.

Mr. Blackburn, thank you for your transparency and declaring your partisanship at the beginning.

My first quick question is actually for Mr. Bensimon. You stated that, after the 1994 reforms, people had been not allowed to sit on the board because of their overt partisanship. Is that correct?

10:15 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

Sorry, the interpretation isn't working. I don't want to make any language errors. In any case, most English speakers don't speak French. I'll tell you straight out. I don't want to make any errors. And I don't belong to any political party, by the way.

Mr. Sikand, could you repeat your question?

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

In your opening testimony, I believe you mentioned that people had been barred from sitting on the board if they had overt partisanship.

10:15 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

Did I say this?

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

In your opening testimony.

10:15 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

I said that they couldn't sit?

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Regardless, I'll just move on because I'm eating into my time.

Mr. Blackburn, first, I want to sincerely thank you for your service in the past.

Here's my concern. You're being very transparent about your partisanship, which lends itself to inherent bias, or at least the perception of bias. You constantly refer to quality, but yet you also referred to the Trudeau government no less than five times.

I'm concerned about the admission. I can't personally accept what you're saying without it being partisan. I'm a little concerned with that.

I would like to put forward a motion to not accept the letter sent to the Prime Minister as evidence to be considered in the report.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Well, the motion does arise from the actual testimony that came before us, so it is therefore in order.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Yes.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

I'm a little concerned about the time.

Do you wish to present your motion now or do you wish to present your motion at the end?

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

At the end.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

At the end.

Okay. You have three and a half minutes to finish your questioning. Then you'll present your motion.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Out of courtesy, I would like to get some comment out of this.

Again, there were a lot of assertions that current changes under our government are inappropriate, yet how do you reconcile this with everything I just said?

Can I have your comment, please, Mr. Blackburn?

10:20 a.m.

Former Member at Parole Board of Canada, As an Individual

Dave Blackburn

Mr. Sikand, the focus shouldn't be on me here. What matters is that a young woman died and she died in Quebec. However, there have been major changes to the appointment process.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

With due respect.... Sorry, I don't mean to cut you off.

In the fairness of the procedure, which is why it isn't about you, it is about the quality, your words, of your testimony.

I'm actually going to give the remainder of my time to Mr. Joël Lightbound.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Thank you, Mr. Sikand.

I have a question for Mr. Bensimon.

You said, as a professional and based on your experience as a former member—

10:20 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

Oh, no, I was never a member. I've been a parole officer and a researcher, and that's enough.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Sorry, I misunderstood.

Based on your professional experience, you say that it would be irresponsible to comment on a case without having seen all the relevant documents, and clearly not everyone has seen them.

Why is this important?

10:20 a.m.

Criminologist, As an Individual

Dr. Philippe Bensimon

I understand your question. However, I have no experience as a member, since I've never been one. As a criminologist, I need some basic information, and I don't have it. Like everyone else, I've identified about 10 issues that may warrant questions, but I must know more. As a professional, I wouldn't address certain topics because I'm aware of what I'm saying. I don't want to make any errors or blunders.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joël Lightbound Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

That's to your credit.

Ms. Latimer, I have a question for you. You were initially opposed to the idea of a study in a parliamentary committee following the motion presented. You were concerned that the study would taint or undermine the results of the investigation. Could you explain why?

We must shed light on this tragedy to prevent the mistakes from happening again. As Mr. Blackburn said, a tragedy of this nature is one too many.

Why were you opposed to the motion initially?