WINNIPEG — Canada’s minister of public safety calls a Manitoba review board decision to allow Vince Li unescorted trips outside the Selkirk Mental Health Centre an insult to the victim.
“The provincial decision to grant Mr. Li unescorted trips around town is an insult to Tim McLean, the man he beheaded and cannibalized,” Steven Blaney said in a statement issued by the prime minister’s office. “Canadians expect that their justice system will keep them safe from high-risk individuals.”
The provincial Criminal Code Review Board ruled Thursday that Li will be allowed to go out in public by himself for the first time since he stabbed Tim McLean and then ate parts of his body six years ago.
The board granted Li all the new freedoms his psychiatric team had requested at a hearing earlier this week, including unsupervised trips in Selkirk starting with 30-minute outings and increasing to full days. Li will also have less supervision when visiting other cities, including Winnipeg, and will move from a locked ward to an unlocked ward of the hospital.
Residents of Selkirk expressed mixed opinions about the news.
“I don’t feel the town is in any jeopardy of any sort,” said one Selkirk resident. “I think the review board takes a careful look at any situations like this.”
“He can do it again. It’s not that good of a thing,” said another.
Lead psychiatrist Dr. Steven Kremer said Li, who is schizophrenic, has stopped experiencing delusions and is a model non-violent patient.
Steven Blaney noted the Conservative government introduced the proposed not criminally responsible reform act to protect the public from high-risk offenders.
“Our government has always put victims first, and always will. The people of Manitoba deserve no less.”
The changes take effect for Li next Thursday.