House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was case.

Topics

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalMinister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

Mr. Speaker, the member referred to the necessity for an independent review, yet it feels like we are questioning the independence of the Parole Board of Canada. That is what we are trying to understand.

Does the member believe that the Parole Board of Canada should be independent? Her answer referred to the importance of ensuring that these merit-based appointments, which are open and transparent, and available on line for Canadians to apply for, be given the needed resources to ensure they could do their jobs. Under the previous Conservative government, programs were cut. Did the member support those cuts that would have provided these people with the resources they needed?

Because the member refers to the victim by name, and we acknowledge an individual has lost her life, would she agree that we should be having a conversation on the importance of sex workers being given the same rights as all workers in Canada?

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, this debate is not about the question the minister just put to me. This debate is about the preventable murder of a young woman. She was murdered because of a decision by Parole Board members appointed by the Liberal government.

This is not a debate about the independence of the Parole Board. We are all parliamentarians. If this is referred to a parliamentary committee, the members understand the importance of independence among bodies such as this.

We want to understand why these people were chosen, how they are held to account and what training and parameters they are given. This should never happen again.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the member back to the House. We have had some good exchanges over the years here.

I would like to ask her a question about the larger context. This debate is larger than just the decision of the Parole Board. This debate is about the circumstances in which the decision was carried out.

Earlier I talked about attitudes toward violence against women and treating violence toward domestic partners as somehow being a lesser threat to the public than others and treating sex workers as somehow less worthy of the safety and protection than others in our society. Would the member not agree with me that as well as those narrow questions which must be answered about the Parole Board, there are some larger issues at play here about attitudes toward gender-based violence?

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is about human dignity. It is about the right of all Canadians to feel safe and secure no matter what their pursuits are at any given time. It is about how decisions are made.

There are vulnerable populations in our country and this young woman may have been classed in that group. Having been a family lawyer over many years before I came to this place, I am familiar with the way domestic violence is viewed and that it is not given the serious weight it should be given.

This inmate had a history of violent assault against another partner before he killed his wife with a hammer. That is why I said this person was someone with a history of sadistic violence against women.

This must stop. I agree it is part of a larger conversation and we should have that conversation.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Orléans.

I appreciate this opportunity to take part in this very important debate, which is taking place in the aftermath of the tragic murder of Marylène Levesque.

Before going any further, let me offer my sincere condolences to the victim's family and friends. Our thoughts are with them and with all the victims and survivors of gender-based violence.

Fundamentally, what happened on that day should never have happened, and it is gender-based violence. I want to take my time to shed light on gender-based violence in Canada, which takes place far too often in the country and is completely unacceptable.

In Canada, gender-based violence continues to take place at an alarming rate. Between 2008 and 2018, over 700 women were killed by a current or former legally married or common-law husband or other type of partner.

In 2018 alone, a total of 164 women and girls were killed in Canada.

The reality for indigenous women and girls is even worse. In 2018, the rate of homicide was nearly seven times higher for indigenous women and girls than of their non-indigenous counterparts.

What is more, 32% of women in Canada have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in public.

In my riding of Brampton West, the region I represent, in the region of Peel, half of all homicides in 2019 were domestic related, specifically related to gender-based violence.

These statistics represent women. They represent women with families, women with futures, either taken from them or forever altered because of the long-term impact of gender-based violence.

I could go on and on. Gender-based violence has lifelong impacts on an individual's physical, mental and sexual health. The effects are serious and long term and impacts not just their families and friends, but entire communities.

Despite progress, gender-based violence persists as an intolerable and preventable problem in Canada, one that our government has taken concrete steps to address.

In 2017, we launched “It's Time: Canada's Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-based Violence”, the first strategy of its kind. The strategy has invested $200 million in federal initiatives to prevent gender-based violence, support survivors and their families and promote responsive legal and justice systems.

I want to thank members of the minister's gender-based violence advisory council for their tireless and wise counsel as we have worked together over the past several years to end gender-based violence. This council is comprised of survivors, front-line service providers and experts in the field from across the country.

I also want to take an opportunity to thank the countless not-for-profit organizations in the community that support women and girls fleeing violence. I would like to especially thank Hope 24/7 in Brampton West. It does incredible work to support survivors of gender-based violence.

Since 2015, our government has taken vital steps to strengthen our justice system and support survivors, including by enshrining a clearer definition of consent to clarify that an unconscious person is incapable of consenting, that only yes means yes, and to ensure that the past sexual history of individuals cannot be used to question their credibility.

We have also done this by toughening the domestic assault laws by establishing higher maximum sentences for repeat offenders; ensuring the justice system recognizes the seriousness of these offences; recognizing strangulation as an elevated form of assault; mandating the RCMP to complete the review of over 30,000 sexual assault case files that had previously been deemed unfounded in order to strengthen police accountability, training and awareness, investigative accountability, victim support, public education and communication.

We have also funded at least 7,000 shelter spaces, created or repaired for survivors of family violence, which means that women and girls fleeing domestic violence have a place to go. We have provided five days of paid leave for victims of family violence working in a federally regulated sector so that survivors have a greater opportunity to seek support, which can help with the healing process.

In 2018, we became the first government to introduce and pass legislation dealing specifically with workplace harassment and sexual violence in Parliament and in federally regulated workplaces. In 2019, we introduced the national strategy to combat human trafficking, a whole-of-government approach to address this unthinkable crime, and amendments were made to the Criminal Code to strengthen related laws.

Finally, this past December, we released data from the first-ever national gender-based violence survey. The survey of safety in public and private spaces is a first of three national surveys funded through Women and Gender Equality Canada as part of our federal gender-based violence strategy. We are also funding a survey on gender-based violence with post-secondary institutions and gender-based violence within workplaces in Canada. The data from these surveys will help improve information on the nature and extent of various forms of gender-based violence in the general population. This has improved our understanding of the experiences of survivors who have endured gender-based violence, so that we have more responsive initiatives that are better tailored to their needs.

This year, we intend to build on the work by the creation of the national action plan to end gender-based violence. As outlined in the recent Speech from the Throne, we will work with our partners so that anyone facing gender-based violence has reliable and timely access to protection and services, no matter who they are or where they live.

I think it is fair to say that our government has taken action on gender-based violence, to prevent it and to ensure that those who experience it have access to timely and responsive services. We are not sitting idly by while crimes such as the one that took place on January 22 in Quebec City continue to take place. We are tackling this problem head-on, and we know that until there are no more deaths like this or experiences of gender-based violence in Canada, there is always more that needs to be done.

Gender-based violence must not be tolerated. We will continue to work with survivors, community partners, the private sector and all orders of government to end it in all its forms. We also know that there is an awful lot of work that is left to do, and I look forward to working with all members in this House to make that happen.

Once again, on behalf of myself, all of my constituents and all members of this House, we send our deepest condolences to the victim's family and friends on this tragedy.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her comments and echo her condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

Can the member explain why Mr. Gallese, who has killed before and was deemed a threat specifically to women, and the member has identified that this was specifically gender-based violence, was told to engage in sex with a female sex worker? Is the implication through this order that the lives of these women are somehow less valuable than women who are not engaged in sex work?

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, let me reiterate that the tragic murder of Ms. Levesque should never have happened. Once again, our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

It is also important to note that a thorough administrative review with external investigators will be taking place to determine the circumstances around this killing. That investigation, as has been suggested by the minister, will be transparent and the findings will be shared with the public.

It is our foremost priority to keep Canadians safe and we will work tirelessly to prevent any similar incidents from happening ever again here in Canada.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know that the member had a background in nursing prior to coming to the House. I am sure that she had the opportunity to witness women who were put into situations where they were subjected to violent acts such as we are discussing today.

Can the hon. member use her experience to highlight the need for such resources to be available to women so that they have all the tools that they need?

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I stated in my remarks earlier, despite progress that we have made, gender-based violence persists as an intolerable and preventable problem in Canada. We have taken concrete actions.

In 2017, we launched a gender-based violence strategy, the first of its kind, by investing $200 million in federal initiatives, to prevent gender-based violence, support survivors and their families, and promote responsive legal and justice systems.

I think it is also important to continue to support those local organizations that are at the front line, supporting survivors. In my riding of Brampton West I am extremely proud to have many organizations like this. One that I would like to highlight is Hope 24/7, which has been doing incredible work over the years to support victims of sexual assault and survivors. These organizations are much needed in our communities and we need to continue to support them.

Working with all members of this House, we can ensure that something like this never happens again in Canada.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, certainly there are many areas in which parliamentarians from all parties would wish to work together trying to end gender-based violence.

I want to ask the member about appointments to the Parole Board. They are obviously political decisions made by the government. Part of the context for this, we should all agree, is that it was a bad decision by the Parole Board in this case to release somebody who was a risk to reoffend specifically against women and to give him permission to have that contact. This decision was made by Parole Board members who were relatively inexperienced and appointees of the government.

Does the member think that the reviews undertaken in this case should include a review of the process by which the government made those appointments and, in fact, chose to not reappoint experienced members, but rather appointed many new members to the Parole Board? Should there be some accountability for decisions to appoint people who seem to be unprepared to make good evaluations in these cases that are in the public interest?

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize that appointments of board members are done through a Government of Canada selection process. In 2016, our government implemented an open, transparent and merit-based appointment process throughout the government. This new process has resulted in an increased number of applicants for board positions as well as a greater diversity to truly reflect Canada, as well as for their experience in law, corrections, psychology, education, policing and criminology. That is important.

Unlike the Conservatives, who often appointed partisan donors, field candidates and former political staffers to the Parole Board of Canada, I am extremely proud of the open, transparent and merit-based process that we have in place.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-France Lalonde Liberal Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to speak to this motion put forward by the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. Before I go any further, I want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank the thousands of men and women who work in corrections every day and for the work that they do.

My heart broke when I learned of the murder of Marylène Levesque.

This young woman was 22 years old.

As a mother, I cannot even begin to imagine how her family and friends must be feeling in the wake of her passing.

I offer my sincere condolences to Ms. Levesque's family and friends.

Simply put, this never should have happened. The circumstances that led to this loss of life need to be examined in depth by external investigators to ensure that a situation like this does not happen again. This is exactly what this government proposes to do.

As we heard from the hon. Minister of Public Safety, our government intends to carry out a full and transparent administrative review of the incidents, aimed at the decision that led to the untimely murder of Marylène Levesque. Why was a convicted murderer on day parole apparently allowed to visit a massage parlour in the first place, despite the fact that the Parole Board of Canada explicitly opposed it during a hearing back in September of last year?

I look forward to reading the findings of the administrative review into Correctional Service of Canada and the Parole Board of Canada, as well as the outcome of the criminal murder investigation currently being undertaken by Sûreté du Québec.

I also agree with the suggestion put forward by the hon. member that this matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, but I believe that it would be a mistake to do so before both the internal review and the criminal investigation have concluded.

There is no question that a full parliamentary study will shed further light on how we got here and will help to recommend a path forward to ensure that no one else will have their life cut short like this again.

However, to begin that study now would not be nearly as effective as it could be when we consider that the relevant experts and officials would not be able to comment while an investigation is ongoing.

I strongly believe that the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security could carry out this study once the officials have finished, so that the witnesses would be able to share their opinions openly and answer questions freely. It would also allow committee members to hear from experts directly on the findings of the review in order to make fully informed and effective recommendations.

On the whole, I agree with the sentiments expressed in the hon. member's motion and I will be supporting it. However, I disagree with the immediate call to review the open, transparent and merit-based appointment process that was implemented by our government in 2017, as part of a larger push to improve Governor in Council appointments across the board.

This move ensured that a candidate's qualifications mattered more than their political contributions. It also opened the application process to allow for a more diverse pool of Canadians than ever before. At the time that the Conservatives left office, six of nine full-time Parole Board members in Quebec were Conservative partisans, and eight of nine were men.

Today, the board is made up of highly qualified individuals from diverse backgrounds. Most have backgrounds in law and corrections, psychology and education, policing, criminology and social work. Nearly a quarter are indigenous or belong to a visible minority.

Rather than immediately reviewing the appointment process for the Parole Board, I believe the most prudent question would be to determine why, following a PBC recommendation, the accused was apparently allowed to visit a massage parlour while on day parole. That, among other things, is what the administrative review will be examining.

We need to find out if the established protocols were followed properly, and how we can work to put safeguards in place. From there, should the findings of the review determine that a further review of the changes made to the nomination process is warranted, then the standing committee would be an appropriate place for that. I believe that, without a full understanding of the facts, this would be premature.

In any given year there are between 7,000 and 8,000 Canadians on some form of parole or conditional release. In 2013-14, 17 people were convicted of a violent offence, while in 2018-19, the number was down to just five. That year, 99.9% of day parolees did not commit a violent crime.

In summary, even though acts like this are extremely rare, we are reminded that we can and must do more to ensure, the best we can, that offenders serving out their sentences do not pose a risk to the public.

Keeping Canadians safe remains our top priority. We need to work tirelessly to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

Comments from Liberal government members so far today have all been along the same lines. They either say that the former parole board members appointed by the previous government were incompetent, or that the majority of them were men, which was a problem. First of all, that is a very serious thing to say.

Second, Liberal members have also claimed that the recidivism rate is not that high, that there are many inmates on parole, but not much happens. I would like my colleague to table the report prepared by Public Safety that indicates the recidivism rates.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-France Lalonde Liberal Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not have the report in front of me.

However, I know that, since we began using the new process, we have had highly qualified individuals assessing offenders hoping to go back and live in the community.

I would like to ask the member why he is bringing this up today when an investigation is already under way to help us determine the reasons for this tragedy and shed light on why it happened. This is what the House has agreed to do.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Vis Conservative Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the member that, as a member of Parliament with a substantial number of federal institutions in my riding, the parole officers, the people on the ground, have outlined that many offences committed by people on day parole are not put forward by our Crown prosecutors in British Columbia, and that statistics given by the department do not reflect the reality of the dangers that people in my community face because of the instances taking place.

Parole officers in my riding have indicated many times that they are losing hope in our justice system, and losing hope in protecting our communities.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-France Lalonde Liberal Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the utmost respect for parole officers who do extraordinary work in our communities and sometimes under very difficult circumstances.

I know the member has raised the question with the parliamentary secretary. According to my understanding of the response from the parliamentary secretary, we are certainly very open to discussing this issue from British Columbia's perspective.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke a lot about the expertise of the people who sit on the Parole Board. However, we have noticed that there are flaws in the system, and that is what led to the current situation.

I would like to know whether the member thinks it is right that correctional officers gave a man permission to seek out sexual services despite his history of violence against women.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-France Lalonde Liberal Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

I think everyone in the House can agree that this situation should never have happened. Certain people chose to ignore the Parole Board's decision. Our government has decided to conduct an internal investigation into what happened. We are therefore asking members to wait for the results of that investigation before going forward with a study in committee.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 4th, 2020 / 1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Marc Dalton Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be speaking in support of the motion and sharing my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

It is a motion that would not be necessary if public safety had been seriously considered. We are facing a tragic situation, which we simply cannot turn a blind eye to. Changes need to be made, and they need to be made right away.

A woman, Marylène Levesque, is dead, not killed by an escaped prisoner but by a violent killer out on day parole. We must ask how it was that Eustachio Gallese was on day parole in the first place.

In 2004, Mr. Gallese murdered his wife in cold blood by beating her with a hammer before fatally stabbing her with two knives. He was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 15 years. This wife killer should not have been eligible for parole until next year. How was it that he was out on day parole in the first place? Do court sentences matter anymore?

If it was not bad enough that he was on day parole, he also had no restrictions limiting his time with women. This was a man with a history of violence toward women, yet he was regularly out in the community consorting with female sex workers and he was violent toward them. In fact, he was banned from a massage parlour in the area for being violent and aggressive.

Then two weeks ago, he engaged with another sex worker, Ms. Levesque, in a hotel room and brutally stabbed her. This should not have happened. This woman should still be alive. Our correctional system, our parole system and the Liberal government failed Marylène Levesque and the public.

“Why” and “how” are the questions that Canadians are asking their government, and they deserve answers.

Actually, Canadians deserve more than answers. They deserve to feel safe in their communities and homes. They deserve to have a government that puts their safety first, not the sexual fantasies of a convicted wife killer.

Sadly, over the last four years we have seen too many times the system bending to criminals to give them more comfort, instead of providing victims with comfort. Whether it is allowing child killers to serve time in minimum-security healing lodges, or allowing wife killers unsupervised access to sex workers, criminal rights seem to come first under the current government.

It takes an outrageous act and a massive outcry before the government wakes up and does something. That action only lasts until a story is out of the headlines, and then we are right back where we started.

When this happens again, will we see some real action? I say when and not if, because it is probably only a matter of time.

Who will be the next victim? Who will be the next reoffender? Will it be Terrence Burlingham, who raped and murdered two young girls in the 1980s in British Columbia? In 2018, it was found that Mr. Burlingham posed a danger due specifically to the presence of sexual sadism, anti-social personality disorder and psychopathic features, yet Mr. Burlingham recently received permission for supervised absences.

Interestingly and sadly enough, back in the 1980s, Mr. Burlingham was under mandatory supervision orders arising from break-and-enter charges when he committed these grisly murders in the first place.

Will it be Shane Ertmoed? In October 2000, he murdered 10-year-old Heather Thomas of Surrey. He received a mandatory life sentence, with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.

Heather was visiting her father's Cloverdale townhouse. Three weeks later, her body was found floating in Alouette Lake located in my riding. Ertmoed told police he invited Heather into his townhouse, laid her down on the floor, removed her pants and underpants, and choked her while stifling her screams of protest.

He used his black football bag to carry her body along with her clothing to his vehicle and drove to Golden Ears Provincial Park before hiding the bag in dense forest. The next day he returned, recovered the bag, inflated a small dinghy and dropped the bag into the lake.

The faint hope clause under which offenders convicted of first-degree murder may apply for a reduced parole eligibility period after 15 years in prison was scrapped by the Conservative government in 2011. However, because this crime predated the law, he was eligible to apply for a hearing.

Heather Thomas, only 10 years old, could easily have been my daughter. Mr. Ertmoed worked in the townhouse complex next to ours and was very friendly toward my daughter and the girls she played with. They had a lemonade stand. They called him "the rocket".

In our society, women deserve protection and that is the objective of this motion.

Opposition Motion — Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National SecurityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

When the House next gets back to debate on the motion, the hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge will have three and a half minutes remaining in his time for his remarks and, of course, the usual five minutes for questions and comments.

Chantignole SchoolStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lyne Bessette Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, early in the year, École de la Chantignole, in Bromont, embarked upon a wonderful environmental impact reduction initiative.

January 10 saw the official launch of the “One, two, three, compost!” project that all classes are taking part in.

I would like to congratulate the students and teachers who distinguished themselves through the concrete actions they have taken to reduce waste by composting.

Set in motion by the teachers, the project is the result of a collaboration between the Brome-Missisquoi RCM, the City of Bromont, the school board and the school.

A green committee was created in order the get the students involved. These young people are true role models in the field of environmental protection, and this initiative will prepare them for taking on their role as responsible citizens.

In closing, I would like to congratulate the teachers and students of the green committee of École de la Chantignole in Bromont.

Shawn PanesarStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour and recognize the life of Shawn Panesar of Renfrew, Ontario, who suddenly passed away on January 22 at the young age of 48.

Shawn was born in Renfrew. He followed in his father's footsteps, receiving his degree as a mechanical engineer from the University of Ottawa in 1996.

Shawn Panesar was a very successful and well-respected community leader, having spent his career managing thriving local industries, most recently with Nova Pole Industries of Renfrew. Shawn enjoyed the opportunity of serving the town of Renfrew. He was directly involved with his church for many years, delivered meals on wheels and was on different boards. He also gave back to his town with various donations at charitable events. He served as chair of the Renfrew Power Generation board.

Shawn is survived by his loving wife Wendy, his mother Sandra, his children Bennett, Asha and Lura, and his stepchildren Skylar and Emma. He will be missed by many aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, staff and employees.

We thank Shawn for his contribution to the life of our community.

Sri LankaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, Sri Lanka has a long history of enforced disappearances, white van abductions and missing persons. I have met with many families of the disappeared who have been protesting each and every day for the last three years demanding answers to the fate of their loved ones.

I met a teacher who handed over her husband to the Sri Lankan military in May 2009. She saw him and others get on a military bus. The men and women are still missing.

Last month the new president of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, concluded that those missing persons are dead. These assertions have sent chills and despair among the families, many of whom live in Canada.

The families are demanding answers. How does he know the missing are indeed dead? How did they die? Who is responsible for their death? The families need to know and in order to have closure and end impunity, a thorough, independent international investigation that leads to truth and justice is needed now more than ever.

René LafranchiseStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, on January 27, the people of Boucherville lost one of their own, a man affectionately known as Beau Blanc.

I would like to offer my condolences to his sister, Jeannine, who cared for him, and to the Lafranchise family. René Lafranchise's kingdom extended from Old Boucherville to the east end.

He never left home without his baseball cap and could be seen any time of day walking around the streets of Boucherville on the hunt for the bottles that he returned to the Messier Metro. He would then use his hard-earned pocket change to buy himself a little treat at Ketchup restaurant, Le Vieux pub or Bar de l'eau.

Beau Blanc had his own unique way of talking to people. Often peppering his speech with expletives, he would predict rain tomorrow with total conviction or tell kids to stay in school.

Sometimes misunderstood, his words were often surprising or shocking, but the smallest kindness was enough to bring a wonderful, childlike grin to his face.

Rest in peace, Beau Blanc. You will not be forgotten.

UkraineStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Yvan Baker Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine. Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker, who is here with us today, was arrested on trumped up charges of terrorism and sentenced to 20 years in a Siberian labour camp. In jail, as a protest he undertook a hunger strike which lasted for 145 days.

Canada, led by our now Deputy Prime Minister, was at the forefront of the international effort calling for his release.

During his trial, Mr. Sentsov once said:

[Member spoke in Ukrainian and provided the following translation:]

I do not know what your convictions are worth if you are not willing to suffer for them or even to die for them.

[English]

As we speak, many political prisoners are suffering in jails in Russia. As we speak, Ukrainian women and men are dying defending their homeland from a Russian invasion.

As Canadians, we share these convictions.

Today, I hope that we draw inspiration from Mr. Sentsov's courage. I hope that we live by the courage of our convictions.