Suicide comment has plenty of support, senator says

Conservative Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu says he's received plenty of support for controversial comments he made about leaving rope in the cells of convicted murderers for them to kill themselves.
Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu says he has received hundreds of messages of support for his controversial comments made Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu says he's received hundreds of messages of support since he made controversial comments Wednesday about facilitating the suicide of convicted murderers.

The Conservative senator sparked the controversy when he was asked his opinion on the death penalty and he replied that he is against it, but not opposed to ropes being left in the cells of serial killers who have no chance of rehabilitation. Boisvenu said they have the right to take their own lives.

Later in the day he issued a statement saying his comment was inappropriate and he wished to withdraw it. He apologized if he offended anyone that has been affected by suicide.

Boisvenu now says he has received 500 to 600 messages of support and that he simply expressed an opinion that many Canadians hold. 

There was mixed reaction to his comments on Parliament Hill on Wednesday. Some parliamentarians said that while they don't agree with what Boisvenu said, some understanding should be extended to him because of his personal experience with crime — his daughter was murdered. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was among those who said Boisvenu had suffered and his emotions should be understood.

The NDP, however, took a tougher stance and described what Boisvenu did as illegal. Interim Leader Nycole Turmel said it's against the law to counsel someone to commit suicide and in question period again Thursday, NDP MP Francoise Boivin took the same line of questioning.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson responded by saying that her colleague, NDP MP Pat Martin, owed Boisvenu an apology for his "shameful, personal attack" on the senator. Martin called Boisvenu an "asshole" and a "Tory idiot" when asked for his reaction to Boisvenu on Wednesday and said his comments were "appalling."

Martin told Evan Solomon, host of Power & Politics, that he stands by his comments but that he didn't know Boisvenu's daughter had been murdered. 

With files from Canadian Press