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May 3rd, 2023

NDP MP calls for more changes to criminal code so that sexual assault survivors can tell their own stories

OTTAWA – On Wednesday, NDP MP Laurel Collins urged the government to ensure sexual assault survivors have the choice to tell their own stories by making further changes to the publication ban regulations the Justice Minister announced last week.

Currently, prosecutors determine whether or not a publication ban prohibits a survivor from telling their own story. The Liberal government has tabled legislation to improve the process, but Collins and advocates for sexual assault survivors say more needs to be done to support survivors trying to move forward with their lives –including requiring survivor’s consent before putting in place a ban that stops them from telling their own story.

“For so many survivors of sexual violence a huge part of their healing process is the ability to talk about their own lived experiences. This archaic and paternalistic rule took away the voices of countless survivors, retraumatized many and even discouraged them from seeking justice in the first place,” said Collins. “For decades governments left this dated policy in place, allowing lawyers to make decisions about what information could be shared publicly, including the survivors’ own name, without having to consider the survivors wishes. Even with the government’s proposed changes, lawyers still don’t need to get survivors’ consent before putting in place a publication ban. Survivors deserve more than that and New Democrats will be pushing this government to improve their legislation.”

Collins stood with the co-founders of My Voice, My Choice, a grassroots advocacy group supporting sexual assault survivors, Kelly Favro and Morrell Andrew, who are also working for more agency for survivors.

“With the government’s proposed changes for survivors in Bill S-12, consensus from the Justice Committee, and a petition that shows strong public support, no one in Parliament can say they are unaware of the barriers that victim-complainants of sexualized violence face when they want to remove a publication ban. Bill S-12 is a good first step, but there are still gaps in the legislation that need to be fixed. It is now the responsibility of our representatives from all political parties to act, and to ensure that no victim-complainant will ever be criminalized for telling their story.”