Evidence of meeting #82 for Status of Women in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was rcmp.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michael Ferguson  Auditor General of Canada, Office of the Auditor General
Carol McCalla  Principal, Office of the Auditor General
Elizabeth Hendy  Director General, Programs Branch, Policy Sector, Department of Justice
Shirley Cuillierrier  Assistant Commissioner, Senior Advisor on Reconciliation and the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you to all the witnesses. My questions could go to the RCMP or the Department of Justice, so I'd invite you both.

In the last month's interim report of the inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women, in its recommendation 9, asked:

That the federal government work collaboratively with provinces and territories to create a national police task force to which the National Inquiry could refer families and survivors to assess or reopen cases or review investigations.

Head Commissioner Buller said, ”We don't have a police force arm to work with us to help survivors and families get those answers.”

I have two questions. Do you agree that would be of utility? Do you have any sense of whether the federal government is moving towards a response to that ask from the inquiry?

12:50 p.m.

Supt Shirley Cuillierrier

We're currently reviewing all the recommendations in the interim reports.

I can speak for the RCMP. We have a team in place in Ottawa, and we're working with all of our divisions in relation to any of the RCMP cases that are being either talked about in camera at the family hearings, and/or if the families come forward and don't necessarily attend the family hearings. If they come through the FILUs, we also have one employee who is working full time with the Department of Justice and the FILUs to ensure that when it comes to an RCMP investigation, the linkage is made for the FILU to the family to the primary investigator of the RCMP.

We have structures in place already, perhaps not as well understood by the commissioners of the national inquiry. However, in relation to the RCMP, we are in position right now to meet with the families and to provide them with the information they are seeking about their loved one.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Beyond providing information, if through the work of the inquiry there are cases that the family wants to reopen or to review, then the mechanism is already there if it was an RCMP case.

12:55 p.m.

Supt Shirley Cuillierrier

I mean, we are reviewing the file. If the cause of death has been determined by a coroner, we're not in a position to reopen the file. We're happy to meet with the family and explain to them what our role has been, and explain to the FILU that perhaps they need to be in touch with the coroner's office.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Is there any response from Justice on that recommendation, whether it's helpful and whether it might be acceded to?

12:55 p.m.

Director General, Programs Branch, Policy Sector, Department of Justice

Elizabeth Hendy

I would have no comment. I would defer to the RCMP.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Okay, thanks.

Are you hearing from families, where the RCMP was not the investigating police force, that they have a need for a mechanism such as this?

12:55 p.m.

Supt Shirley Cuillierrier

What's available to families, let's say in Quebec or Ontario where the RCMP is not the police of jurisdiction, is the FILU network. Again, that's being funded by the Department of Justice.

In my understanding, the FILUs are working very closely with the Ontario Provincial Police in Ontario and the Sûreté du Québec in Quebec, again for the same purpose, to be able to make sure that the families are in contact with the police of jurisdiction.

December 5th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

In February, there was a Globe and Mail report on unfounded cases of sexual assault allegations. The national police data, as part of the 20-month investigation that the Globe did, revealed that one out of every five sexual assault allegations in Canada had been dismissed as baseless and therefore unfounded.

Our committee here, just a month later, made two recommendations in this area. One was that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Justice work in partnership with the provinces, territories, and first nations communities to develop strategies to deal with sexual assault cases, and to ensure police and prosecutors use a common set of practices in dealing with the survivors of sexual violence.

Then a second recommendation, number 31, was:

That the Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice, in collaboration with the [RCMP], establish sexual assault advocates within law enforcement and legal bodies, and that the role of the advocate be to: ensure that the complainant is cognisant of the full range of existing laws, services and options available to survivors of sexual assault as they move through the legal system, including options outside of the existing criminal justice system; and to ensure that there is a trauma-informed and survivor-centric approach throughout the legal process.

Is that something that either of you have been involved with in the consideration of those recommendations? Do you have a sense from the victims you might have spoken with that there would be an appetite for such action on the part of the federal government?

12:55 p.m.

Supt Shirley Cuillierrier

The RCMP actually put together a team to review sexual assaults after The Globe and Mail article came out. That analysis is still ongoing. I am aware that there is a report that is going to be generated by the work of that team. I don't know when the report is going to be released.

I do think there is an opportunity, for sure, to look at training for investigators and to be able to leverage victim services with an approach that is trauma-informed. I go to the example that we have in the Yukon where the RCMP has partnered with the women's transition centre. In the Yukon they're allowing for third-party reporting. A complaint can come to the police without the victim being identified, and that is working very well. That's a strategy that we're actually exploring at this point in time. Conversations are certainly being had both with Status of Women Canada and with our provincial partners.

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Karen Vecchio

Excellent. Thank you very much.

We're going to end today's session. It has been an excellent panel. I know that all members of this group have found great information.

Just to let you know, the clerk has been in contact with INAC and they will be coming to visit us in January or February. We will be seeing them. That has been confirmed. We're just waiting for a time.

Once again I'd really like to thank the panellists. Thank you very much to the Auditor General, the RCMP, as well as the Department of Justice. It's wonderful to have you here.

Today's meeting is adjourned.