Randall Garrison

Federal NDP looks to criminalize domestic emotional abuse with new law

MP Randall Garrison introduces private member’s bill

The federal New Democrats want to make psychological abuse within a relationship illegal.

Randall Garrison, NDP Critic for Justice and the MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons on Oct. 5, making controlling coercive conduct in an intimate relationship a criminal offence.

Although psychological and emotional abuse – including controlling behaviour, isolation, and threats of violence – can be more challenging to recognize than physical violence, it can be just as damaging, experts say.

“Creating this new offence will help stop serious harm already being inflicted on intimate partners, and it will also allow police to take action before things escalate,” Garrison said.

The private member’s bill is based on the federal Ombudsmen for Victims of Crime request asking the minister of justice for coercive control to become a new criminal offence. The bill’s modelled after a similar provision in the United Kingdom.

In April, a nationwide survey released by Statistics Canada showed one in 10 women was “very or extremely concerned” about the possibility of violence inside the home.

Police regularly attend domestic abuse calls and usually refer victims of violent or mental abuse to victim services. Sooke RCMP Cpl. Dawn Gilhen said police could charge those perpetrating controlling or coercive behaviour with criminal harassment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the fact that not every home is a safe home,” said Lindsay Matthyssen, NDP critic for Women and Gender Equality. “People living in fear of violence should not have to experience violence before receiving help and protection. The government has a responsibility to do all it can to keep women and girls safe.”

The proposed law could result in a five-year prison sentence.

Few countries have criminalized psychological or emotional abuse.

In 2010, the French government criminalized psychological violence in intimate relationships, with the punishable offence carrying a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a large fine (approximately $77,000 Cdn.). In England and Wales, coercive control in intimate relationships became a criminal offence in 2015. Scotland also adopted a similar measure in 2018.

VIDEO: This hand signal alerts others to domestic abuse without a word



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

crimedomestic violenceFederal Politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A mature Garry oak fell onto Richmond Road on Oct. 13 near Camosun College Lansdowne campus. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Garry oak crashes down onto Richmond Road

Saanich responded to 59 tree-related calls

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

The Saanich Teachers’ Association is calling on the local provincial election candidates from all parties to commit to making schools healthier and safer for all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich teachers call on election candidates for improved health, safety in schools

Increased funding, reduced class sizes among required changes, says association president

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich residents warned to watch livestock after bear kills llama

Officers with Conservation, Saanich police could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read