On Friday, Langley MP Mark Warawa’s Safe at Home Act came into effect.
“Tomorrow is an important occasion for me, for Canada’s Parliament, and for victims across our country,” said Warawa, who delivered the statement in the House of Commons on Thursday.
“I want to share this milestone with a victim and her family. A few years ago, they came into my Langley office and told their story of a sexual assault. They lived in anguish when the sex offender was sentenced to serve house arrest right across the street from their home,” said Warawa.
“The neighbourhood they had once loved was now the place they dreaded to be because their attacker was there. The mother, with tears, asked me, ‘Why should we have to move…we’re the victim?’
“Mr. Speaker, that was a great question. Everyone should have the right to feel safe in their own home. This bill helps to ensure that victims concerns are being heard and considered.”
In 2010, Marco Balducci was found guilty of two counts of invitation to sexual touching with persons under the age of 14. He served four months in jail. The judge granted his request to move back in the family home after his release, despite the fact that he lived across the street from his victim.
The victim’s mother pleaded with the judge to not allow this, but he came back home. The neighbourhood was outraged and posters went up warning about Balducci.
“The Safe at Home Bill is now the law because of the strong support of our prime minister, the justice minister, and my colleagues on both sides of this House and the Senate. Thank you for working with me to make a stronger, safer Canada,” said Warawa on Thursday.
This legislation amended the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act so that child sexual offenders will be prohibited from being within two kilometres of a victim’s dwelling, or an appropriate distance specified by the court. The bill also required that the courts consider that criminal offenders subject to parole or a conditional sentence be under strict conditions not to contact their victims, unless the victim consents or there are exceptional circumstances.
The bill added similar non-contact conditions to the current list of conditions under section 810.1 of the Criminal Code (Peace Bonds). Under this section, the courts may impose recognizance with conditions on any individual that is reasonable feared to commit a sexual offence against a child under the age of 16.
The Safe at Home Bill also amended section 133 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act by requiring the Parole Board of Canada and Correctional Services of Canada to impose reasonable and necessary conditions on offenders, including non-communication or geographic restrictions, if a victim or other person has provided a statement regarding the harm done to them, the continuing impact of the offence, and safety concerns or comments on the possible release of the offender.