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Canada calls gender violence an epidemic after triple femicide inquest

August 16, 2023

The Guardian speaks to Kirsten Mercer about the federal government’s response to the Renfrew County Inquest

The Guardian is reporting on a letter sent by the new federal Attorney General in response to the public inquest into a triple femicide in rural Ontario. In the letter, the Attorney General called gender-based violence an “epidemic” that “has no place in our country”, and indicates that the government “intends to pursue the criminalisation of coercive control, a form of intimate partner violence intended to isolate, intimidate and control victims.”

The Guardian spoke to Kirsten Mercer who represented EVA at the inquest:

Kirsten Mercer, the lawyer who represented the organisation End Violence Against Women Renfrew County at the Ontario inquest, considered the justice minister’s letter “thoughtful” and said that she and her client looked forward to working “with them to identify risks and challenges that are linked with criminalisation, with a view to mitigating any possible harms”.

However, she said she also wanted to ensure any new tools – including a possible law on coercive control – created in response to the recommendations do not get “weaponised” against people living with [intimate partner violence].

The fact that the Ontario and Nova Scotia murders even happened show that criminal penalties may not be an effective deterrent, said Mercer.

“The focus on downstream impacts of [intimate partner violence] cannot come at the expense of prevention,” she said, adding that she hopes any changes to Canada’s criminal code are coupled with “meaningful investments in prevention and true safety planning for survivors”.

Read the entire article here.


Kirsten Mercer

Practice Areas

Inquests & Inquiries