May 18th, 2023
NDP MP introduces a bill to expand protections for people in abusive intimate partner relationships
If passed, the private member’s bill would make controlling or coercive behaviour a criminal offence
OTTAWA—On Thursday, NDP MP Laurel Collins (Victoria) introduced a private member’s bill to provide more legal protection for individuals living in harmful situations. Survivors, front-line service providers and police agree that the proposal would provide an important tool that allows earlier intervention in problematic relationships before things escalate and victims experience greater violence.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own home,” said Collins. “But there are people, particularly women, who are living with the constant threat of violence or living with someone who uses all kind of tactics to make them feel unsafe. Although this isn’t physical abuse, it impact le the victim’s physical and mental health, and it is often an early indicator of relationships that will escalate into physical violence or homicide."
I’m introducing this bill so that vulnerable people, particularly women and children, can be protected from coercive and controlling behaviour.”
A similar initiative, Bill C-202, was introduced by NDP MP Randall Garrison last fall following two Parliamentary committee reports from June 2022 and 2021 that suggested making coercive and controlling behavior in intimate partner relationships a criminal offence.
Sagesse, an organization that seeks to support those in abusive relationships, have been working with Collins’ to develop a framework that aligns with the realities of individuals faced with domestic abuse in the form of coercive and controlling behaviour.
"Coercive control strips away a person’s freedom and sense of self, leading to lasting harm to the survivor and far-reaching consequences for families, communities and society as a whole," said Andrea Silverstone, CEO of Sagesse. "With this bill, survivors will have legal protection and people who use coercive and controlling behaviours can be held accountable.
Criminalizing coercive control sends a clear message that abusive behaviour is unacceptable and won’t be ignored. With increased awareness about the realities of coercive control, and a justice system equipped to address it, we can better prevent escalation to more severe forms of violence, including homicide.”
“Canadians expect us to do everything we can to stand up against all forms of violence,” added Collins. “I hope that members of all parties will support my proposal to add protections for vulnerable people.”