Youth protection director suspended, investigations launched following Granby girl's death
A moment of silence was held at the National Assembly Thursday as politicians of all stripes tried to make sense of the death of a seven-year-old Granby girl.
The province of Quebec has launched three investigations, and the director of Youth Protection Services (DPJ) for the Eastern Townships was suspended with pay as politicians from all parties tried to make sense of what happened.
“It really takes monsters to have done such a thing,” said Premier Francois Legault.
Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault and Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant announced Thursday that a coroner will investigate the death of the child.
The coroner will be tasked with determining not only the cause of death, but of looking into events in the weeks and months beforehand and figuring out how to prevent similar circumstances from happening again.
Guilbault says she feels the additional inquiry is necessary for the sake of transparency.
The hearings will be open to the public, to the media, and to the family of the little girl.
"Everyone is shaken by this death and it very understandable. People want to know information, want to know what happened, want to know why we have regularly that kind of sad story coming from the DPJ, so I think it is time to hold a public inquiry held by a coroner to be able to have this information," said Guilbault.
Carmant said that the director of Youth Protection Services asked to be suspended with pay so as not to interfere with the investigations, and the minister accepted that offer.
“We are concerned about his capacity to occupy the position he's in,” said Carmant.
Legault said Thursday that there have been many complaints about Youth Protection Services, and so he wants to know if the best decisions are being made.
"Because I think it's more than the DPJ. We've seen decisions regarding parents that are questionable. We've seen that the school administration was aware of the situation, so how can we protect in a better way our children?" said Legault.
MNAs from all parties were angered by what happened.
“A little seven-year-old girl is dead. And this is absolutely unacceptable in Quebec in 2019,” said Liberal MNA Helene David.
“Today, we have to speak all the members of parliament together for the kids and for those kids who don't have any voice and who live and suffer right now in houses, in basements, with violence every single day of their life. It's too much for us. And we feel that we need to honour the life of this young girl in the Eastern Townships. And it's starting today,” added PQ interim leader Pascale Berube.
Mourners in Granby, Quebec City
The girl's name is subject to a publication ban.
On Wednesday evening hundreds of people, including the girl's mother, attended a vigil for the child in Granby.
Mourners lit candles and laid stuffed animals in a makeshift shrine outside the Lindor St. home.
MNAs in the National Assembly also held a moment of silence Thursday in the girl's honour.
Carmant confirmed Wednesday that Youth Protection Services had a file open on the girl and that in April someone had asked the department to intervene.
The girl's grandmother reportedly felt that her son was not a fit guardian because of his mental health issues and wanted the child and her brother removed from his custody.
On Monday the girl was rushed to hospital in Granby, then transported to a hospital in Sherbrooke, after she was reportedly tied to a bed and beaten in her father's home.
The child died on Tuesday.
No new charges
Her father, 30, was charged with confinement and her stepmother, 35, was charged with confinement and aggravated assault.
Both appeared in court Thursday and were denied bail. Their next hearing is on May 23.
A spokesperson for the Crown said the prosecutors' office was still evaluating evidence and was not going to recommend new charges in the near future, but that could happen at a later date.
"There was no new charge laid because we are now evaluating all the evidence we received from the Sureté du Quebec and we will receive more evidence," said Jean-Pascal Boucher.
Their names are subject to a publication ban, in part because the deceased girl has a younger brother.
A spokesperson for the Crown said the prosecutors' office was still evaluating evidence and was not going to recommend new charges in the near future.
The stepmother had already pleaded guilty and received an unconditional discharge for assault for an incident in September 2017.
In that case the couple had come home inebriated from a bar, and the girl had pulled the woman's hair. The woman then hit the girl.