Mr. Speaker, let me just say at the outset that I want to acknowledge the hard work of Senator Bob Runciman in championing this bill in the Senate, as well as my predecessor, Brent Rathgeber, who introduced a similar bill in the last Parliament.
The essence of Bill S-217, known as Wynn's law, is about changing one word in the Criminal Code, one word, to change a loophole that cost Constable David Wynn his life when he was murdered, a loophole that imposed a life sentence on Auxiliary Constable Derek Bond, who forever will have to live with the consequences of being shot at close range.
Constable David Wynn should be with us today, but he is not, and Auxiliary Constable Bond should not be living a life sentence of hell, but he is. The change of one word in the Criminal Code could have made all the difference, and that one word change is to change “may” to “shall” in section 518 of the Criminal Code to make it mandatory for prosecutors to lead evidence of the criminal history of bail applicants.
The criminal history of bail applicants is always relevant and material to determine the question of bail. It is always relevant and material because without such information, it is not possible for judges or magistrates to properly exercise their discretion as to whether someone should be kept behind bars or let out on to the street, and yet, section 518 of the Criminal Code provides that it is discretionary whether this information is brought forward. It simply does not make sense, and Wynn's law would fix that.
There have been some who have said that Wynn's law is unnecessary because the criminal history of bail applicants is almost always put forward. I say to those critics that simply is not good enough. It is not good enough for Constable Wynn, who is no longer with us. It is not good enough for Constable Wynn's family, who lost a husband, a father, and a brother. It is not good enough for my community of St. Albert, which lost a brave constable who ultimately gave his life to keep my community safe. It is not good enough for Auxiliary Constable Bond and his family, whose lives have forever been changed.
It simply is not good enough that the criminal history of bail applicants is almost always put forward. The criminal history of bail applicants must always be put forward so that what happened to Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond never happens again.
Some critics of Wynn's law say that it would cause delay in our justice system. I say how could that be, given that such information is a keystroke away and, at most, a phone call away?
In closing, let me say that we must never forget Constable Wynn and Auxiliary Constable Bond. We have a responsibility as parliamentarians to close this fatal loophole in the Criminal Code. We owe it to Constable Wynn, and we owe it to Auxiliary Constable Bond, and we owe it to Canadians.