moved that Bill S-217, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (detention in custody), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise this evening to sponsor Bill S-217, known as Wynn's law, named in honour of the late Constable David Wynn, who was shot and killed in the line of duty.
On January 17, 2015, in the early morning hours, Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond were undertaking a routine inspection of licence plates outside a casino in St. Albert. In the course of undertaking that inspection of licence plates, they discovered a licence plate that was connected to an individual for whom there was an arrest warrant. As a result, Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond proceeded into the casino to arrest the individual. Upon entering the casino to apprehend the individual, shots were fired at Auxiliary Constable Bond, who was shot, and tragically, Constable David Wynn was shot and killed.
Any time a police officer is murdered in the line of duty, it is not only a tragedy; it is an outrage. However, what makes the murder of Constable Wynn that much worse is that it was completely preventable. Constable Wynn's killer was out on bail at the time. He was out on bail notwithstanding the fact that he had more than 50 prior criminal convictions, including convictions for weapons offences and multiple violent offences. On top of 50 prior criminal convictions, he had at least 38 outstanding charges, and to top it off, he had numerous failures to appear in court. Yet, there he was, out on the streets in our community of St. Albert unbeknownst to the public.
The murder of Constable Wynn prompted the RCMP commissioner to ask how it was that someone with the criminal history of Constable Wynn's killer could walk among us. The reason someone like Constable Wynn's killer could walk among us, and was walking among us, was that the criminal history that he had was not disclosed at the bail application hearing; not the 50 prior criminal convictions, not the at least 38 outstanding charges, not the multiple failures to appear, not anything. One of the reasons why the criminal history of Constable Wynn's killer was not disclosed is that section 518 of the Criminal Code provides that it is discretionary for a prosecutor to disclose the criminal history of someone seeking bail. Bill S-217 seeks to close this glaring loophole in the Criminal Code by requiring prosecutors to lead evidence of the criminal history of an accused, including prior convictions, outstanding charges, and failures to appear.
There is no doubt in my mind, and there is no doubt in the mind of Shelly MacInnis-Wynn, the widow of the late Constable David Wynn, that had Wynn's law been the law at the time that Constable Wynn was murdered, Constable Wynn's killer would have been kept behind bars where he belonged and Constable Wynn would be alive today.
At this time I would like to talk a bit about what Bill S-217 would do and what it would not do.
Bill S-217 would not impose any new undue burden on prosecutors. It would not impose any new undue burden on law enforcement. It would not in any way take away or interfere with the discretion of a magistrate or a judge to determine the question of bail based upon all of the facts and circumstances in each individual case. Bill S-217 would ensure that all information that is relevant and material at a bail application hearing would be brought forward to the attention of the judge or justice of the peace, so that the judge or justice of the peace could make a proper determination on the question of bail, something that clearly did not happen in the case of Constable Wynn's killer.
It is absolutely inconceivable that a bail application could be determined without having information on an accused's criminal history, without having information about the fact that the accused seeking bail has numerous outstanding charges and numerous failures to appear. Yet that is precisely the situation we face today with it being discretionary to lead such evidence under the Criminal Code. That is precisely what Bill S-217 seeks to fix.
I would like to acknowledge a few individuals. First of all, I want to acknowledge Senator Bob Runciman for his hard work and leadership in drafting Bill S-217 and for shepherding it through the Senate with the unanimous support of the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee and the overwhelming support of the Senate.
I would also like to acknowledge my predecessor, Brent Rathgeber, for his leadership in introducing a similar bill in the last Parliament following the murder of Constable David Wynn.
Most importantly, I would like to acknowledge and thank Shelley MacInnis-Wynn for her determination and her courage in lending support to Bill S-217, including appearing before the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee, where she gave very powerful evidence.
This is, to put it simply, a common sense piece of legislation. It should be a no-brainer. That is why Bill S-217 passed the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee unanimously. It is why the Senate passed the bill by an overwhelming majority. It is why the bill has received the endorsement of key stakeholders, including the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness. It is why rank and file law enforcement officers have given their support to this legislation, dozens of whom have written to me to lend their support. The former minister of justice and attorney general for the Province of Alberta, who was the minister of justice at the time that Constable Wynn was murdered, has indicated to me that he supports this legislation.
Bill S-217 is important legislation. It is much-needed legislation. It would close a glaring loophole in the Criminal Code, a loophole that resulted in the death of Constable Wynn, a loophole that resulted in Shelly MacInnis-Wynn becoming a widow, a loophole that has caused Constable Wynn's three boys, Nathan, Matthew, and Alexander, to grow up without their father, a loophole that has taken away a tremendous RCMP officer and a dedicated volunteer in the St. Albert community.
As I close, I would like to read into the record some of the very powerful testimony of Shelly MacInnis-Wynn as she testified before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, testimony that Senator Runciman said, after more than 35 years of holding public office, was perhaps the most powerful testimony he had ever heard. Ms. MacInnis-Wynn stated:
In those four seconds, a constable was taken away from his community, a husband was taken away from his wife, a father was taken away from his three sons, and a son and a brother was taken away from his mother and sisters—in four seconds. Every day I wake up wishing that I could take those four seconds back, but I can’t. There is nothing I can do to change that. Every day I have to live my life alone, not have Dave by my side enjoying the moments we were supposed to have together as a family and as a husband and wife. Every day his children have to experience new things and new milestones without their dad.... They don’t have any more chances to make new memories.... Changing this one simple word could save a lifetime of happiness for somebody else, and that somebody else could have easily been you. Dave was the unfortunate one that happened to be there that night, but it could easily have been anybody else.
What happened to Constable Wynn should not have happened, but we cannot roll back time. What we can do, what we must do, and I would submit what we are duty bound to do as members of Parliament, is do our very best to ensure that what happened to Constable Wynn and the pain that Constable Wynn's family will endure forever are never experienced by another Canadian and never experienced by another Canadian family ever again.
The best way to help make that a reality is to pass Bill S-217, Wynn's law. In the name of and in honour of Constable David Wynn, I implore members of the House to join the Senate, to do what is right, and to pass Bill S-217. Let us get it done.