Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, colleagues. It is a privilege to be before you to testify on Bill S-217, known as Wynn's Law, named in honour of Constable David Wynn.
Bill S-217 is a straightforward bill. It seeks amendments to the Criminal Code that while minor could have saved Constable Wynn's life had they been enacted at the time he was shot and killed.
Before I go into details on Bill S-217, let me at the outset provide some background as to what led to Bill S-217, Wynn's Law. During the early morning hours of January 17, 2015, Constable David Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond were inspecting licence plates outside a casino in St. Albert, my home community, as part of their routine policing. In the course of inspecting licence plates, they came across one in the name of Shawn Rehn, for whom there was an arrest warrant. Consequently Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond proceeded into the casino to arrest Mr. Rehn. As they approached Shawn Rehn, Rehn began to shoot and shot Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond. Tragically, Constable David Wynn died four days later, on January 21, 2015.
Constable Bond survived, but having spoken with him, I can tell you that his life will never be the same. Indeed his life is in many ways a living hell as he seeks to deal with the impacts of being shot at close range, both from a physical and from a psychological standpoint.
Constable Wynn's killer, Rehn, was out on bail at the time, notwithstanding the fact that he had over 60 prior criminal convictions, 29 outstanding charges—I said 38 before, but it was 29—and multiple failures to appear. It prompted RCMP Commissioner Paulson to ask how it was that such an individual was walking amongst us. It turns out that such an individual was walking amongst us because this individual's criminal history was not presented at the bail hearing, in part because of a loophole in the Criminal Code found at paragraph 518(1)(c). That loophole, a fatal loophole, provides that the criminal history of a bail applicant may be presented—may—notwithstanding that the criminal history of a bail applicant is always relevant and material for a proper determination on the question of bail. The essence, the cornerstone, the underlying purpose, of Bill S-217 is to amend paragraph 518(1)(c) to replace “may” with “shall” so that in all circumstances the criminal history of a bail applicant is presented at a bail application hearing.
The purpose of Wynn's Law is to ensure that all relevant and material information is presented. That didn't happen in the bail hearing of Shawn Rehn with lethal consequences.
Wynn's Law would ensure that relevant and material information is presented, but it would not interfere in any way with the discretion of a judge or magistrate to make a determination on the question of bail. Indeed, Bill S-217 would ensure that the judge or magistrate had all the relevant information before them so they could properly exercise their discretion in determining whether someone should be kept behind bars or let out into the community. Moreover, Wynn's Law would not impose any undue burden on the crown, on prosecutors. This type of evidence is almost always presented at a bail application hearing. Bill S-217 would formalize in law what is almost always done, and what should always be done at a bail hearing so that what happened to Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond never happens again.
In addition to amending paragraph 518(1)(c) of the Criminal Code, there is also a secondary component to Bill S-217 and that is to amend section 515(10)(c). Section 515(10) is the section in the Criminal Code that sets out the grounds on which bail may be denied. There are three grounds set out in section 515(10). The first is at section 515(10)(a), which is in the case of an individual being a flight risk. The second is at section 515(10)(b), which is where public safety is at play and then the third ground, and this is the ground that this bill would amend as well, is section 515(10)(c), which deals with denying bail where confidence in the administration of justice would be compromised.
There are four sub-grounds that must be considered under that question of the administration of justice being compromised. What this bill would do is make minor amendments by adding three grounds in addition to the four that are already there, namely, past convictions, outstanding charges, and failures to appear. Again, the overriding purpose, the overriding objective, is the change to section 518(1)(c), which is to change “may” to “shall” so that the criminal history of a bail applicant is always presented at a bail application hearing.
In closing, Mr. Chair and colleagues, what happened to Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond should never have happened. Unfortunately, we cannot turn back the clock, but as parliamentarians, I believe we have an obligation to close a fatal loophole so that this never happens again. We owe it to Constable Bond, to Constable Wynn. We owe it to Canadians.