Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, in the heart of the beautiful upper Ottawa Valley, I appreciate this limited opportunity to contribute to this truncated debate on a piece of legislation that is important to my constituents.
I begin my comments by sharing some thoughts from a group called Because Wilno, and why it reiterates the word “because”. They state:
Because on September 22, 2015, Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam were killed in their homes near Wilno, Ontario.
Because they were killed by a man they knew, who had a history of domestic violence known to police for over three decades.
Because even after violence is reported, people slip through the cracks in the system.
Because advocates have been calling for these cracks to be addressed, for decades.
Because dealing with violence is particularly challenging in our rural communities.
Because coercion and control of women is a spectrum that can begin with words and escalate towards lethal violence including multiple killings.
Because the culture of society, policing and courts needs to be better.
Because women continue to be killed in Canada, at a rate of 1 every 6 days.
Because we couldn’t just sit around doing nothing.
Because we think you can help.
I thank Holly Campbell, who organized the group Because Wilno.
Violence against women is not new. While I would like to believe, coming from a predominantly rural riding like mine in eastern Ontario, that violence against women is a city problem, we know that is not the case. Violence against women continues to be a fact of life in Canada, and in a predominantly rural riding like Renfrew County, Carol Culleton, Nathalie Warmerdam and Anastasia Kuzyk were killed on September 22, 2015. Their killer was known to all of the women and to police as having a long history of violence spanning more than three decades. While the accused had previously been ordered by court to attend counselling for abusers, he never went. He had been released from prison shortly before the murders. The system failed these women. On average in Canada one woman is killed by her partner every six days. The man arrested and accused of their murders had a long criminal history, including charges involving two of the three women.
Holly Campbell, who organized the group Because Wilno, issued this statement to legislators like us:
For too long, Canadians have looked away from violence in our homes that predominantly harms women and children in every neighbourhood, district, municipal ward and constituency of this country.
Like Holly, I am not prepared to let Carol, Nathalie, Anastasia and all the other women who have been victims of violence die in vain. The memory of their senseless deaths is too fresh not to be moved to action. I support the proposal in Bill C-75 that would increase the maximum term of imprisonment for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence and provide that abuse of an intimate partner be an aggravating factor on sentencing, as well as provide for more onerous interim release requirements for offences involving violence against an intimate partner.
The Conservative Party believes, as do I, that the safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of any government. We will always work to strengthen the Canadian criminal justice system, rather than weaken it. The Conservatives understand that a strong criminal justice system must always put the rights of victims and communities before special treatment of perpetrators of violent crimes.
My question for the government is this. Does Bill C-75, in its other 300 pages, meet the expectations of Canadians? The fact that the current government has decided to move forward with precisely the omnibus legislative format it condemned so vociferously in opposition suggests to my constituents and to all Canadians that the contents of Bill C-75 are being rushed forward as an omnibus bill precisely because these contents are out of touch with the concerns of average Canadians.