Justice and Human Rights
The committee continues its review of the government’s bill to toughen the justice system for mentally-ill offenders. Bill C-54 would amend the mental disorder regime in the Criminal Code to deal with accused individuals found not criminally responsible (NCR) or unfit to stand trial. Public safety would be the paramount consideration in the decision-making process, and a high-risk designation would also be created.
MPs first hear emotional testimony from Stacie Galt, whose cousin’s three children were murdered by their father Allan Schoenborn in 2008. Prime Minister Stephen Harper cited the Schoenborn case when he introduced the legislation in February. Dave Teixeira, a spokesperson for Galt and her family, also testifies.
Mental Health Commission of Canada representatives Louise Bradley and Patrick Baillie, Giuseppe Battista from the Barreau du Québec and Alexander Simpson with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health discuss their concerns with the bill.
Committee members then hear from the following witnesses: André Samson, whose brother and sister-in-law were murdered by a man who was later deemed not criminally responsible for the crime, Nathalie Des Rosiers from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and Isabelle Malo, whose father-in-law was murdered by his neighbour.
The following witnesses testify on the last panel: Ben Bedarf, the grandfather of a seven-year old boy who was murdered by his father, Peter Coleridge from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Michel Surprenant with the Association of Families of Persons Assassinated or Disappeared, and Doris Provencher and Chloé Serradori, who are both representing the Association des groupes d’intervention en défense de droits en santé mentale du Québec.