Council unanimous in support of Bill C-332

city hall

A private member’s bill, which would amend the Criminal Code of Canada and make coercive control a criminal offence, received unanimous support from city council Monday night.

Bill C-332, introduced by Laurel Collins, NDP MP from Victoria, B.C., has to date received second reading in the House of Commons as well as Consideration in committee.

Coercive control is summarized in the bill as “engaging in controlling or coercive conduct that has significant impact on the person towards whom the conduct is directed, including a fear of violence, a decline in their psychical or mental health or a substantial adverse effect on their day-to-day activities.”

Brian Sweeney and Dan Jennings, who both lost daughters to Intimate Partner Violence, along with members of Angie’s Angels were present at last night’s meeting. 

Jennings will travel to Toronto this week to attend a reading of Bill 173, which would recognize Intimate Partner Violence as an epidemic in Ontario. 

Jennings’ daughter was murdered last July. Sweeney’s daughter, Angie, was murdered last October. 

Ward 3 Councillor Angela Caputo, who tabled the motion, said addressing coercive control was long overdue. She said it is noted in the Code as one of the acts pertaining of Intimate Partner Violence but is not an offence in and of itself, and should be.

Caputo noted it was 50 years ago, a woman could not obtain a credit card without a male co-signer.

“That tells you something about the society that we live in. Coercive control has been socially acceptable. To have it not included in the Criminal Code, does the Government of Canada believe that coercive control is still socially acceptable? 

Coercive control is dangerous and is often the beginning of a scary downward slope that can and ultimately has led to femicide,” Caputo told council.

Caputo said “sadly” April will mark six months since Angie Sweeney was murdered and taken from her family.

“We cannot bring her back, but we can continue to fight for her,” said Caputo. “One (death) is one too many and there have been way too many deaths. I emphatically support this and I hope our council will as well.”

Ward 2 Coun. Lisa Vezeau-Allen said coercive control should not only be added as an offence in the Criminal Code, but also talked about publicly.

“Humiliation, degrading, dehumanizing, making threats, emotional abuse….all of these things…subtle actions that can turn into Intimate Partner Violence,” said Vezeau-Allen. 

“I think it’s important that we as a community make a point that this cannot happen but also educate each other on what the signs are and what it is, and be a good neighbour,” she added.

Council passed the motion unanimously. 

After the meeting, Sweeney said it’s important Intimate Personal Violence be brought into public light and addressed squarely.

“I believe it’s the most important thing for everybody and the safety of their families,” said Sweeney “It’s all based around watching out for one another. 

Let’s face it, it’s been going on for a long time, and I just believe if somebody’s gotta step up to the plate and let it be understood and open up everyone’s eyes, then so be it. Nothing happens unless you make it loud,” he added.

The Sault is a beautiful community, Sweeney said, and he’s determined to do what he can to prevent another family suffer a tragic loss like his family did.

“With the situation I’ve been put in, I just feel with my heart and soul that it’s very important to protect everybody else from what my family has gone through.”

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