Canada's NDP


November 9th, 2023

NDP Works in Parliament to Support Victims of Coercive Controlling Behaviour

November 9, 2023

OTTAWA – On Thursday, NDP MP Laurel Collins’ bill to make coercive and controlling behaviour illegal under the Criminal Code entered second reading. Coercive control is a pattern of abuse that can include threats, humiliation, isolating the person from support, and depriving them of independence. MP Randall Garrison introduced similar legislation in the previous parliament after hearing alarming reports of increased intimate partner violence from local law enforcement and organizations that support women.

“When I introduced my coercive control bill in 2021, I heard from many victims and family members who explained how this legislation would protect them from current abuse or would have helped them in the past. Many told me that this legislation gave them hope for themselves or family members who were currently stuck in cycles of abuse they could not find a way to escape. For this reason, I have worked closely with MP Collins to ensure that this legislation moves forward as quickly as possible,” said Garrison.

“Coercive control is abuse, but historically it’s been overlooked and downplayed – which as a whole hurts women,” said Collins. “It’s not only dehumanizing and hurtful, but it is one of the most common precursors to physical abuse and femicide. Without it being a part of the criminal code, there’s very little women experiencing this form of abuse can do until it escalates.”

Over 95 per cent of victims of intimate partner violence have also reported experiencing coercive behaviour and control. This pattern of behaviour leaves long-lasting impacts on survivors, including mental health concerns, feeling serious distress, fear, and isolation.

Two years ago, the Justice Committee recommended criminalizing coercive behaviour to protect people experiencing domestic abuse and to prevent situations from taking a turn for the worse. The Liberals haven’t moved forward on it.

“The Liberals have spent eight years claiming to champion women’s issues – but then when real problems are pointed out, they don’t act – instead they delay and disappoint,” said Collins. “I’ve seen firsthand what it looks like when women are victims of this type of abuse, and it’s devastating on its own, but also so often it eventually escalates to physical violence.”

“New Democrats believe in fixing the flaws in our justice system that disproportionately hurt women. Which is why we’ve brought forward a plan to support victims of intimate partner violence, and I’m urging all parties to support the bill.”

“Coercive control is common, hidden and dangerous,” said Andrea Silverstone, CEO of Sagesse, an Alberta-based domestic violence prevention organization and an expert on coercive control. “Without this law, survivors feel their experiences are ignored or minimized and their options for finding support and safety are limited. Passing this law will help ensure survivors’ voices are heard and our justice system can better protect them. I encourage all Members of Parliament to vote to move this Bill forward.” – Sagasse, Director of Communications Katherine Springall.