SENATOR BOISVENU: Public Safety Minister Bill Blair abuses his parliamentary privilege to the detriment of families of victims of crime

In Quebec, we all remember the heinous murder of young Brigitte Serre, which occurred in a gas station in Saint-Léonard in January 2006. At the age of 17, Brigitte was brutally murdered with 72 stab wounds by Sébastien Simon, with the complicity of Tommy Gagné. They both received life sentences, with no possibility of release for 25 years for Sébastien Simon and 10 years for Tommy Gagné.

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Brigitte’s parents have been fighting for years to have the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) deny one of the killers, Sébastien Simon, his early release, as Tommy Gagné has been dead since 2014.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Brigitte’s parents have been trying by all means to ensure that their right to participate in their daughter’s criminal’s upcoming hearings is respected.

The same is true for Mrs. Lisa Freeman of Oshawa, whose father was brutally shot by a multi-recidivist criminal on probation, since he had already tried to kill his own father. Lisa must also fight against the Department of Public Safety Canada to ensure that her rights under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights are respected. She was denied her participation in the hearing of her father’s murderer last April.

Another hearing is scheduled for October and Lisa Freeman has not yet been notified of the date, so she must now also apply to the PBC to explain why she wants to participate in the hearing. In other words, she must stipulate in a written application to the PBC why the PBC should respect the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

Currently, the Minister of Public Safety, as well as the PBC, does not respect the rights of victims and relatives of victims of crime that are enshrined in the Charter and protected by law! The Liberal government has rushed to free criminals at the beginning of the pandemic and is re-victimizing law-abiding citizens by ignoring their rights.

Unacceptable and shameful.

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair lied to the Canadian Parliament not once or twice, but three times by falsely stating in the House of Commons and Senate that the Victims Bill of Rights would be respected.

While he was questioned in the House of Commons by MP Colin Carrie, the Minister lied twice in April 2020, when he twice stated that he had instructed the PBC to hold hearings via videoconference so that relatives of victims could attend the hearings.

He also lied in the same month when I asked him the same question in the Senate. Even the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Heidi Illingworth, contradicted the Minister when she said that no directive to her knowledge had been issued to that effect when the question was put to her.

This week, the rights of the relatives of victims were again violated in the case of Brigitte’s parents, even though the only opportunity offered to them by the PBC to attend the hearing of the murderer Sébastien Simon is through a telephone line. It is clear that Minister Blair lied in the House and did not give clear and immediate direction to the PBC.

In addition, the Commission has denied telephone access to the media who normally follow these hearings in person. This is a minister who is the very image of his Liberal government! A government that for the past 5 years has been trampling on the rights of victims, repeatedly lying to them and showing no transparency in the release of dangerous criminals, when it says that the safety of Canadians is important to it.

I am therefore asking my fellow MP Shannon Stubbs, Minister of Public Safety in Erin O’Toole’s shadow cabinet, to request an emergency convening of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to sit down, to request a study and shed light on Minister Blair’s illegal actions, his lies before the Canadian Parliament and to assess the decisions of the PBC.

The Minister must come forward to explain himself, as must the Federal Ombudsman for Victims, as well as the relatives of the victims themselves. The state must explain the management of the PBC during the current pandemic, which is already heavily criticized for its reintegration plan for the recidivist murderer Eustachio Gallese. He brutally murdered Marylène Lévesque with 30 stab wounds last January while on parole.

I would like to reiterate that the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights is supra-constitutional and to transgress the Charter whose rights are enshrined in law is unacceptable and explanations are needed and demanded immediately. Victims and families of victims of crime do not need to be re-victimized because of an insensitive, disconnected and “pro-criminal” government.

Victims and their families are not second class citizens.

Enough is enough.

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