April 27th, 2021
NDP proposal will increase protection for those facing intimate partner violence
OTTAWA – This morning, a unanimous report was tabled which sets out a path for adding coercive and controlling behaviour to the Criminal Code. NDP justice critic Randall Garrison proposed the private member’s bill and subsequent committee study to help address the alarming increase in intimate partner violence during the pandemic.
“Sadly, home is not a safe place for everyone. The pandemic has made things worse for many Canadians, particularly women, in difficult and dangerous living situations,” said Garrison. “When the pandemic began, I heard from front-line service organisations and police in my community that there had been a spike in domestic violence calls. Studies have now confirmed an increase of more than 30 per cent in intimate partner violence in the last year. Clearly, new tools and strategies are urgently needed to help those facing this terrible situation.”
In response, Garrison tabled a private member’s bill to add coercive and controlling behaviour to the Criminal Code. 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.
“The objective is to ensure people who find themselves in these relationships have greater protections under the law,” said Garrison. “The recommendations made in today’s report are based on testimony from survivors, front-line service providers, police and legal experts, many of whom see the harm caused by coercive and controlling behaviour in intimate partner relationships each and every day. We all have a role to play to ensure all people in our communities are living in safety and dignity.”
Key recommendations from the justice committee include:
- Creating a taskforce of experts with a mandate to review existing federal criminal legislation using a gender-based analysis and other inclusive measures. Consider the approach taken in Bill C-247, and make recommendations concerning the drafting of government legislation regarding adding a coercive and controlling behaviour offence in the Criminal Code.
- Implementing measures to combat the challenges presented by the justice system for victims of coercive and controlling behaviour in the context of domestic violence, with the clear objective of avoiding revictimization and unintended capture of victims in the charging process.
- Funding a public awareness campaign, training for judicial system actors and measures to support victims of domestic violence and coercive and controlling behaviour, including during court processes.