Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in the House to speak to this very important opposition day motion that comes as a response to the tragedy that occurred in Quebec City a week and a half ago.
It is a disaster wherein a young woman was let down by the justice system and murdered by a violent criminal. Our motion calls for:
...the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to conduct hearings into this matter, including a review of the changes made by the government in 2017 to the board’s nomination process.
It is the responsibility of the House to ensure measures are taken so that no tragedy like this ever happens again.
This terrible situation should not have been allowed to happen the first time. We have a man given a life sentence for horrifically murdering his 32-year-old female partner. The criminal was assessed as a high risk to reoffend, particularly with a partner, but as it goes, and as we have seen happen time and again, an offender serves a portion of a sentence and is then turned loose, regardless of the risk to reoffend.
In this case, the man was granted day parole as a violent criminal with a risk to reoffend, and then had his day parole extended last September by the Parole Board. They noted that a risk management strategy had been developed to allow this man to meet women for his sexual gratification. How did this not raise a red flag within the Parole Board? A violent criminal with a particular risk to reoffend against vulnerable women was encouraged by his parole officer to solicit sex from vulnerable women.
The result was a preventable and truly heartbreaking tragedy. The lack of regard for the safety of Canadians is astounding. The Parole Board put this criminal's supposed needs above concern for possible future victims, showing an extreme lack of foresight and prudence.
Two former Parole Board members have pointed to a change in the Parole Board of Canada's nomination procedures. This has resulted in a lack of experienced members. That may have been a factor in this murder.
If that is the case, that inexperienced Parole Board members made this decision and got it so wrong that it resulted in the murder of a vulnerable young woman, then those members who made the decision and the people who appointed them must face consequences.
This woman's death could have been prevented. An inquiry into the Parole Board's decision must be made. I am sure that all of my colleagues in this place will join me in condemning this inherently unjust decision, and call for an external inquiry.
When the Minister of Public Safety was asked about this and what was being done to get to the bottom of this case, he told the House on Monday that a full investigation would be conducted jointly by the commissioner of corrections and the chair of the Parole Board of Canada to determine the circumstances surrounding the killer's release, and to ensure lessons are learned from it. The Parole Board will investigate the Parole Board, continuing the legacy of unaccountability.
Canadians need and deserve an external inquiry so that we can make sure prudent decisions are made in the future and that violent offenders are not encouraged to solicit sex from vulnerable women, victims of prostitution, victims of what appears to be a reckless decision by the authors of the so-called risk management strategy.
This case is a prime example of a failure on the justice file, of a revolving-door prison system, and of putting criminals ahead of victims. With the passage of Bill C-75, the previous Liberal government cemented its legacy as being soft on crime. It made sweeping changes that were very concerning and weakened our justice system.
That piece of legislation watered down penalties for over 100 serious crimes. Dangerous criminals should not be getting fines for serious offences such as gang crime, using date rape drugs and impaired driving causing bodily harm. Across our country, victims' groups and law enforcement have opposed the government's weakness on crime and its refusal to take violent crime seriously.
Canadians deserve better than a Prime Minister who prioritizes the rights of criminals over the rights of victims. Conservatives will always put the rights of victims and law-abiding Canadians ahead of the rights of criminals.
This case is a continuation of the Liberals' soft-on-crime approach failing victims. If we look back at the previous Parliament, there are glaring examples of where the government unjustly put criminals before victims.
In 2018, Liberals fought tooth and nail against doing the right thing and putting Tori Stafford's killer behind bars after the killer had been transferred to a healing lodge. It was only after a public outcry, and weeks of pressure from the family and the official opposition, that they relented and put the killer back where she belonged.
A further example is when the Liberal government defended its decision to use veterans' benefits to pay for mental health services for a man who never served a day in his life in the military, but was locked up for murdering a female police officer.
Although the killer claimed to have PTSD from committing this truly heinous crime, the Liberals continued to defend their use of those benefits for this individual. It was out of touch, it was unjust and it again put the supposed rights of a criminal before the victim.
This approach is in stark contrast to the legacy of the Conservatives on the justice file. Our record is based on the most foundational meaning of justice being rendered to the other where it is due. This was showcased in the Victims Bill of Rights, which set a path for victims of crime to be protected and to have their voices heard during judicial proceedings and the subsequent incarceration of an offender.
The Victims Bills of Rights has much to offer victims. They should have their security considered by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system, and they should have the right to convey their views about decisions made by appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system that affect their rights under this act, and to have them considered. The right to have their security considered is truly foundational.
In closing, Canada's Conservatives are calling on the Liberal government to condemn the board's extremely misguided, reckless and negligent decision, and to conduct hearings into this matter, including a review of the changes made by the Liberal government in 2017 to the board's nomination process. This motion should be supported by all members of the House to correct an injustice, to review the circumstances of the Parole Board's shocking decision and to hold those responsible to account.
Nothing we can do will bring these young women back. However, as lawmakers, we can make sure it does not happen again. That starts by putting the rights of victims before those of criminals, and by supporting this motion to conduct hearings into this matter. I am calling on all members of the House to support our motion.