A Conservative MP has apologized for asking an NDP MP whether she’s “considered” sex work during a debate in the House of Commons about the Parole Board of Canada.
Earlier today, the members were debating a Conservative motion asking the House to “condemn the decision of the Parole Board of Canada that led to a young woman’s death by an inmate during day parole in January of this year.”
Questions are being asked about the federal parole system in the wake of the death of Marylène Levesque, who allegedly was killed by a convicted murderer out on day parole.
Levesque was a sex worker, according to Radio-Canada sources. Her alleged killer, Eustachio Gallese, had been allowed to meet women “only for the purpose of responding to [his] sexual needs,” since he was granted day parole in March 2019, according to parole board documents.
After Viersen addressed the House, B.C. NDP MP Laurel Collins asked the Alberta MP to consider listening to the voices of sex workers.
“Sex workers are saying that sex work is work,” she said.
“I would respond to that by asking the honourable member across the way if it is an area of work that she has considered” said Viersen, trailing off as other MPs heckle him and one member yells “shame.”
“Mr. Speaker, I think this makes the point. I do not think any woman in this country chooses this job. This is something that they are trafficked into. This is something that we have to work hard to end in Canada.”
NDP MP Jack Harris then rose in the house on a point of order, calling out Viersen’s language.
“I think that that’s insulting and unparliamentary, notwithstanding the fact that the honourable member recognized that the sex workers, who are in great danger in this country, are in fact workers,” he said.
Viersen, who represents Peace River-Westlock, said he did not mean to question Collin’s reputation.
“What I do want to say is the very fact that I must tread delicately on makes my point, I think, about the nature of the nature of prostitution,” he said.
After the Speaker rose to warn MPs to control their language and avoid “provoking disorder,” Viersen apologized.
“I would like to apologize unreservedly for my comments towards the member for Victoria,” he said.
Both the federal Correctional Service agency and the Parole Board of Canada are investigating the factors involved in Levesque’s death.
Earlier today, I stood in the House of Commons to apologize unreservedly to <a href=”https://twitter.com/Laurel_BC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Laurel_BC</a> for my comments during the debate on our Opposition Day motion.