Wynn’s Law defeated in the House of Commons

Const. David Matthew Wynn is shown in this undated family handout photo.
Const. David Matthew Wynn is shown in this undated family handout photo. Handout

The bill known as “Wynn’s Law” was officially defeated in the House of Commons Wednesday.

Bill S-217 aimed to alter the wording of the Criminal Code to make it mandatory for a prosecutor to disclose a suspect’s criminal history during a bail application.

St. Albert-Edmonton MP Michael Cooper sponsored the bill in the House after it was introduced last year in the Senate by Sen. Bob Runciman. In the past, Cooper accused the Liberals of making the issue about politics, rather than public safety. After the vote, he maintained that opinion.

“Instead of working to try to get the bill to move forward at the committee stage, the Liberals were determined to defeat it,” Cooper said from Ottawa.

“Now, as a result, the fatal loophole in the Criminal Code remains a loophole that just shouldn’t be there.”

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Wynn’s widow, Shelley MacInnis-Wynn, was in the House Tuesday night for debate on the bill, and was present again for the vote. She hasn’t commented publicly, but has made her displeasure with the Liberal government’s handling of the bill known in the past.

“[It’s] devastating, heartbreaking and even traumatizing because of the way our prime minister has treated this bill,” MacInnis-Wynn said in May.
“This is something that, obviously, is very important to her [MacInnis-Wynn],” Cooper said. “There has been no one who championed this legislation more passionately and courageously than Shelley.”

Wynn’s Law passed second reading 154 to 128 in March and was sent to a committee before being considered for a third and final reading.

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The Alberta Federation of Police Associations’ president Michael Elliott was in Ottawa for the second reading and joined Cooper and MacInnis-Wynn in urging lawmakers to pass the bill.

Like Cooper, he was frustrated Wednesday with the bill’s defeat, but said his fight for the legislation isn’t stopping here.

“From the Alberta Federation’s perspective, we do have something in mind. We want to work behind the scenes.

“We may have lost this bill for S-217 but we’ll continue on. There’s other avenues we may approach and it may not be this year but maybe it’ll be next year.

The bill was named after RCMP Const. David Wynn, who was shot and killed at the Apex Casino in St. Albert in January 2015 while attempting to arrest a man on warrants.

That man, Shawn Rehn was out on bail despite 30 outstanding charges and a lengthy criminal record. Those previous charges had not be mentioned during a bail hearing.

Liberals had said the government agrees with the aims of Wynn’s Law but wants to see parole background checks handled as part of a comprehensive review of the justice system.

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Some Liberals had also argued the law could result in court delays and that the justice system is not set up to have all that information available.

“The fact is Constable Wynn’s killer’s bail hearing was a very efficient bail hearing, but one with fatal consequences,” Cooper said. “The potential for adding a few extra minutes at a bail hearing is a small price to pay, compared to the loss of Constable Wynn.”

– With files from Slav Kornik, Global News

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