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Bill C-332 - Adding Controlling and Coercive Control to the Criminal Code of Canada

On February 8, 2024, MP, Laurel Collins for Victoria, British Columbia spoke to the second reading of a private members bill, Bill C-332. An Act to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to include controlling or coercive conduct.

Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. 95% of victims of intimate partner violence in Canada have disclosed coercive control. It is one of the biggest risk factors for femicide even when there has been no other physical violence.

When Laurel Collins spoke before the House of Commons, she shared of her meeting with Angie's Angels. Angie Sweeney was her dad, Brian's world, always his baby girl. She was a mother, daughter, sister and friend. A beautiful authentic person, who lived life to the fullest. Following the discovery of her long time boyfriend, Bobbie Hallaert's relapse with substance abuse, she broke off the relationship and got a No Contact Order to protect herself. Hallaert ultimately broke the no contact order the day Angie was murdered before he returned to the house with a gun. Angie died a hero that day protecting her 12-year-old daughter who was home at the time. Angie ensured her daughter followed her instructions completely to ensure her safety and protect her from Hallaert. After killing Angie, Hallaert drove his pickup truck to the house where his three children and their mother lived, shooting them all, killing the three children and injuring their mother before turning the gun on himself where he died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Following Angie's traumatic death, her father, Brian Sweeney, with the ongoing support of Angie's friends and other family members, formed the group, Angie's Angels to ensure Angie has a voice even after her passing and fight for change and protection against further predictable and preventable tragedies such as Angie's. Laurel described how Angie's death is a failure of this government to tackle intimate partner violence and to protect women.

Laurel continued her presentation with her conversation to another family who have lost a daughter due to intimate partner violence. I personally had the pleasure to meet with Mr. Dan Jennings and his lovely wife Michelle, when they graciously attended in Goderich in December to speak at our event "Walk the Square in Her Shoes" as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. Dan lost in his daughter, Caitlin Jennings to intimate partner violence in July 2023. Caitlin was only 22 years old, with her whole life ahead of her. She was the girl who always had a smile on her fact and a one of a kind friend. David Norman Yates was 28 years her senior and looking back now, the typical patterned perpetrator. Police had been called to the home more than 7 times in the year prior to Caitlin's passing for domestic violence calls. These calls and reports did not help Caitlin, rather she was arrested and charged with assault for trying to defend herself. Police were called to the residence on the afternoon of July 5, 2023 by Yates who claimed he had hurt his friend and was calling to turn himself in. Upon arrival at the scene, they discovered Caitlin's lifeless body that had been there for up to two days prior to officer's discovery.

Like Angie's father, Brian, Dan Jenning's made it his purpose to ensure Caitlin's voice was heard and to fight for preventing further victims of intimate partner violence. With Caitlin's friends and other family member's, Dan created the group, Caitlin's Heard. These two groups formed together in solidarity with the strong fathers, Brian and Dan leading the storm to show they demanded change and weren't giving up ensuring not only justice for their daughters but protection for future victims.

When speaking with Laurel, Dan shared that he knows Caitlin would still be alive today if a bill like this had passed. Many other families like Brian and Dan as well as survivors have openly expressed a bill such as C-332 would be life changing if it had been in place when they were in a situation with coercive control. One of those survivors is MP, Laurel Collins very own sister. Laurel with grace and passion, demanded action, explaining how the government has had this topic studied for over 2 years and recommendations have been received but no change has been made. This is a dire situation and action is urgently needed with a women being killed every 6 days in Canada from intimate partner violence and every 48 hours from gender-based violence. Laurel ended her presentation requesting the house move the bill to the Justice Committee without a recorded vote to prevent delay. She requested leadership come together and not falter in the duty to protect victims from the insidious grip of coercive control. Her empowering devotion to ending intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, femicide and commitment to justice was profoundly evident as she concluded submission.

Tomorrow, on February 26, 2024, Lawyer and Advocacy Director for Luke's Place, Pamela Cross, will be appearing before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding Bill C-332. Pamela will appear before the committee as a witness speaking to the serious concerns about both the criminalization of coercive control and Bill-C332. Pamela has been a significant advocacy around the criminalization of coercive control and will be ensure to bring that passionate devotion in her witness speech. To get more information on the meeting including how to watch live:

With the progress being made to make this Bill a reality, it is critical to continue the momentum and provide support. Communities can do their part in asking their local MP's to support the bill and encourage it to be granted royal assent. If you are unsure who your local MP is, a list of all current members of parliament can be access here. Together, we can all do our part in ensuring our government leadership continues to work towards justice and elimination of violence against women and children.

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