October 18, 2017 7:31 pm

Bret McCann and Alberta MP frustrated feds haven’t removed outdated parts of Criminal Code

Bret McCann, flanked by his wife, Mary-Ann McCann, left, speaks to the media after giving a victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing for Travis Vader at the Edmonton Law Courts in Edmonton, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016.


The son of slain St. Albert seniors Lyle and Marie McCann is once again urging the federal government to get rid of an outdated section of the Criminal Code.

READ MORE: Travis Vader: legal expert says error leaves verdict open to appeal

Story continues below

“On Sept. 15, 2016, Justice Denny Thomas convicted Travis Vader of second-degree murder for causing the death of my parents,” Bret McCann said in a statement Wednesday. “But, it was soon determined that an obsolete portion of the Criminal Code has been used by Justice Thomas. This error was later corrected on Oct. 31 and the verdict was reduced to manslaughter.

“The consternation and pain endured by my family because of this so-called zombie law was enormous.

“While this seemed unbelievable at the time, I have since learned that there are many sections of the Criminal Code which are obsolete and/or have been deemed unconstitutional.”

READ MORE: Travis Vader verdict, Robin Camp controversy: why don’t Alberta judges know the law?

Section 230 was used by the judge when he convicted Vader of second-degree murder in the 2010 deaths of the McCanns. That section looks at “murder in commission of offences,” meaning that a murder was committed while committing or attempting to commit another criminal offence under the Criminal Code — including robbery.

However, portions of Section 230 were ruled unconstitutional more than 25 years ago.

READ MORE: What is Section 230 of the Criminal Code used in Travis Vader verdict? 

Nearly one year ago, McCann and Conservative MP for St. Albert-Edmonton Michael Cooper held a news conference pushing the government to make changes to remove inoperative and unconstitutional sections of the Criminal Code.

Now, they’re speaking out again, frustrated the so-called zombie laws still exist. They say it’s been seven months since the Liberals introduced Bill C-39, and have failed to move the bill past first reading.

READ MORE: Bret McCann calls for changes to Criminal Code following Travis Vader verdict 

“What happened in the McCann case should never have happened,” Cooper said.

“The only way to prevent it from happening again is to remove unconstitutional and inoperative sections of the Criminal Code.

READ MORE: Bret McCann ‘flabbergasted’ at judge’s apparent mistake in Travis Vader conviction

“The lack of progress is inexcusable,” he added. “Bill C-39 is straightforward legislation. It isn’t controversial. There isn’t any real opposition to it. If the Liberals wanted to pass this Bill, they could very easily do so.”

Both McCann and Cooper said they don’t want to see something similar happen to another family.

READ MORE: Bob Layton’s editorial on so-called ‘zombie laws’ 

“It is ludicrous that these booby traps are allowed to exist within the Criminal Code,” McCann said.

“The last time any section of the code was removed or repealed was decades ago, in the 1980s. It would seem just a matter of time before another judge is caught by a similar booby trap and another family is placed in a similar tragic situation.”

Global News has reached out to the justice department for a response. This article will be updated when we receive comment.

— With files from The Canadian Press and Nick Logan, Global News

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error


Comments closed.

Due to the sensitive and/or legal subject matter of some of the content on globalnews.ca, we reserve the ability to disable comments from time to time.

Please see our Commenting Policy for more.