Justice Minister Aligned on Coercive Control

Justice Minister: Offence Targeting Coercive Control Aligned with Government Efforts 

On August 14, the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, reaffirmed his government’s support for amending our Criminal Code to protect the many Canadians impacted by coercive control. 

Minister Virani’s remarks were captured in a letter to David Cameron, Regional Supervising Coroner – Inquests, for Ontario, who led the inquiry into the murder of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk, and Nathalie Warmerdam in Renfrew County on September 22, 2015.  

The coroner’s jury made 86 recommendations, including Recommendation 85, advocating that coercive control be included as a criminal offence, and Recommendation 1, to formally declare intimate partner violence as an epidemic.   

The gravity of the recommendations reflect a startling reality: 

  • One in three Canadians report experiencing domestic abuse (Wathen, MacGregor and MacQuarrie, 2014), and 497 Canadians were killed by their intimate partner between 2014 and 2019 (Conroy, 2021).  
  • The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability reports coercive control was a common precursor to domestic homicide (Dawson et al., 2019).  Further, relationships with coercive control result in greater injury to the victim and are characterized by more frequent and severe violence which are less likely to desist (Myhill, 2015).  
  • Statistics Canada found that 60 to 80 per cent of abuse reported to services involve non-physically abusive tactics (Statistics Canada, 2014). In one study, over 95 per cent of victims of domestic abuse reported experiencing coercive control (Myhill, 2017). 
  • The Government of Canada estimates the annual cost of domestic abuse to be $7.4 billion per year.  

Minister Virani joins a chorus of voices advocating for the criminalization of coercive control. Previously, all federal parties supported the exploration of a coercive control offense through endorsement of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights report, The Shadow Pandemic: Stopping Coercive and Controlling Behaviour in Intimate Relationships 

Speak up to Stop Coercive Control 

You can show your support for survivors and act now to prevent further violence by showing your support for the criminalization of coercive control.  

  1. Tell the Honourable Minister Virani you support his remarks and ask his government to take an active role in moving coercive control legislation forward. You can find his contact information here 
  1. Ask your member of parliament to support legislation, including Bill C-332, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (controlling or coercive conduct).  
  1. Share your support for criminalization in social media with #CriminalizeCoerciveControl. 
  1. Help inform your network about the dangers of coercive control. You can find information and resources here. 
  1. Sign up for REAL Talk to learn how to recognize abuse, empathize, ask questions and listen. Sagesse also offers a REAL Talk specifically for men, available for registration here.