The widow of fallen St. Albert Const. David Wynn is devastated that a House of Commons committee recommended this week that Parliament not proceed with Wynn’s Law, Bill S-217. That means that the proposed legislation is unlikely to become law.
“Devastating, heartbreaking and even traumatizing because of the way our prime minister has treated this bill,” Shelley MacInnis-Wynn said Friday morning.
She was joined by Conservative MP Michael Cooper, who sponsored the bill in the House of Commons after it was introduced last year in the Senate by Sen. Bob Runciman.
“The House of Commons committee voted against closing a fatal loophole in the Criminal Code, a loophole that cost Const. Wynn his life,” Cooper said.
Cooper and Alberta Federation of Police Associations’ president Michael Elliott expressed disappointment that local Liberal Edmonton MPs Amarjeet Sohi and Randy Boissonnault voted against the bill.
“Bill S-217 would have not created any financial hardship in any level of government. Requested information is already available via the police to provide to the Crown at a bail hearing,” Elliot said.
The bill, named after Const. Wynn, would alter the wording of the Criminal Code to make it mandatory for a prosecutor to disclose an offender’s criminal history during a bail application.
In March, Sohi said the government agrees with the objectives of Wynn’s Law but wants to see parole background checks handled as part of a comprehensive review of the justice system.
“We share the objective, we share the same goal. I think where we differ is the pathway forward,” Sohi said.
Wynn’s Law passed second reading 154 to 128 in the House of Commons in March and was sent to a committee of the House before being considered for a third and final reading.
Cooper claimed the Liberal government was opposed to Wynn’s Law “all along,” claiming it will cause delay.
“After all, presenting the criminal history of bail applicants at bail hearings is something that is almost always done. Making sure that it is always done cannot reasonably result in a backlog in the courts,” Cooper said.
Anthony Housefather, chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, explained the decision in a statement on Wednesday.
“I voted in favour of Wynn’s Law at second reading. But, as our committee studied the bill, we heard from witness after witness that the bill would not make Canadians more safe.
“It would make Canadians less safe as the burden of proof would be raised and more people who should be in jail might get out on bail.
Wynn was shot and killed at the Apex Casino in St. Albert in January 2015. He had been attempting to arrest a man wanted on warrants.
That individual, Shawn Rehn, had been out on bail despite having 30 outstanding charges and a lengthy criminal record. It was later discovered those previous offences had not been mentioned during his bail hearing.
“Has anyone ever stopped to think about how the Justice of the Peace, who conducted the bail hearing that let Shawn Rehn back onto the streets, is feeling right now, knowing that they were not given all of the information to make a fair and honest decision and as a result set him free to murder my husband?” MacInnis-Wynn said.
The bill will return to the House of Commons for debate and a vote on the committee’s recommendation not to proceed.