Madam Speaker, I want to start off tonight by thanking the member for St. Albert—Edmonton for putting his heart in the cause.
I think a lot of us have heard the story about Constable Wynn and the family he left behind. His dear wife sits in this place tonight listening to our debate, which actually makes it a little more difficult to talk about, because sometimes this place is filled with a lot of words. However, tonight these are powerful words that have impacted somebody's life and will impact lives in the future.
Bill S-217 is asking for something very simple. However, I think the governing party is trying to mislead this place by making it something more complicated than it really is. For instance, “may” and “shall” refer to two different things. The term is “may...lead evidence”, which we would change to “shall...lead evidence” or shall present evidence. There is no aspect of this that would require proof. It talks about presenting evidence, to demand that evidence is put before the court in these kinds of cases.
I want to talk about an article in the National Post about the person who shot Constable Wynn, and I will go over some of the details.
...details a lengthy list of 57 convictions, starting in April 1999 when he was ordered jailed for two months for theft and break and enter.
In the years that followed, when Rehn wasn’t serving time, he was racking up convictions in Edmonton, Calgary and the smaller communities of Evansburg and Drumheller.
They were for assault, assault with a weapon, drug possession and possession of prohibited firearms. He obstructed a peace officer, escaped lawful custody and drove while disqualified.
He also was convicted for breaking and entering, theft and possession of stolen property.
Parole Board Of Canada documents show Rehn served two federal jail terms as an adult.
The first was a two-year sentence for possession of stolen property and driving while disqualified. The second was for three years on charges including escaping custody and possession of a loaded prohibited weapon.
Collectively, he was sentenced to serve more than 12 years in custody, but it’s not clear how much of that time he actually spent behind bars.
On the day he died, [the criminal]...was still facing 30 charges for four separate offences, including fraud, resisting a peace officer, escaping lawful custody, possessing a prohibited firearm, failing to appear in court, failing to stop for police, dangerous driving and multiple charges of breaching bail conditions.
Somebody mentioned that there were more than 50 convictions, but there were 57, and all the member for St. Albert—Edmonton is asking is that this evidence be put before the court when bail is being granted or discussed. To look elsewhere is absolutely a breach of justice for the Canadian public, to overlook those 57 convictions.
The opposition has the victims bill of rights on our side, which was one of the proudest moments of our government when I first arrived here in 2011. The victims bill of rights is something that recognizes victims and their meaningful place in these court cases in our justice system, because it is a system that often seems to overlook a victim. As soon as people are victims, as soon as they pass away or are gone, they are discarded and not even accounted for in terms of the case. It seems they do not matter. It feels as if they do not matter.
We have heard the other side say that they care about justice, that they care about Constable Wynn's family, and these kinds of issues. This is one of hundreds of issues across this country where these kinds of previous convictions are not taken into account in bail hearings, and they need to be. We absolutely need these cases and previous convictions brought before bail hearings so that these guys and ladies remain behind bars, where they should be.
Sometimes, unless it is happening next door or it is a personal issue, where a family member of ours is involved in a particular case, there is a distance there.
The government has supported this legislation before. I would challenge the government members to put themselves in that seat up there, where the wife of Constable Wynn is sitting. They should put themselves in that seat up there. Her husband is never coming home. I challenge the other side to do this very thing, to put themselves in the place of the family members who are left behind because somebody is out walking the streets with 57 convictions and multitudes of others.
I heard of one case where there are 150 previous convictions and yet this person is still walking the streets committing crimes in our country. How is that even possible? It is possible because there is a clause that says “may” instead of “shall”. If we put this clause into our justice system that says “shall...lead”, shall produce evidence or “shall...lead evidence” of previous convictions, I think we could greatly reduce the number of people walking the streets who really should not be, for our own safety, for the safety of the members on the government side, and for their kids' safety, as well.
Again, I am going to challenge the government side that was supportive of it. The members voted for it before and I challenge them to vote for it again, and support our justice system in Canada. We can make it a justice system again, not a legal system. There are too many stories of people getting hurt. They are not coming back. They disappear off the record. Victims often do. After the funeral and all things are said and done, the niceties that have been said and exchanged, people like the Wynns have to go back to living their lives without the patriarch of their family.
This simple wording change would help Constable Wynn and those like him who go out to do justice for us on a daily basis. They go out and have to deal with these types of individuals on the street. It would give them a better chance of coming home at night.
I see members on the other side shaking their heads. I see people smiling and having great conversations, but this is actually some serious legislation that we are discussing tonight. For me, I would appreciate a greater amount of respect for the issue at hand, considering the person who is sitting up in our gallery.
The member across the way heckles me. What I cannot understand, and maybe I will just go to my thoughts, is how this particular member and members with him on the government side, who supported this previously, and who say they are behind the intent of Bill S-217, all of a sudden are completely changed in what they think the intent of this bill is and what it can do and will not do. They are saying that it does not plug every hole, so they are not going to support it. It does not fix everything, including the kitchen sink, so the government members are not behind it now.
For once, maybe the government could put a word in the law that gives the RCMP members a better chance of coming home at night. Why would the government members not even give them a 1% or 2% better chance of coming home at night? The member across the way is shaking his head again. I do not understand it. Why would we not give our legal system a better shot at keeping these guys behind bars, as we should? We are all responsible in this place to do that.
I would call on the government side and other opposition members to seriously consider Wynn's law, as we have termed it, and the fine work that the member for St. Albert—Edmonton has done on this. I say this in all sincerity. We get partisan in this place, but this is absolutely not a partisan issue for us. This is about justice. This is about keeping dangerous people off the streets, so men like Constable Wynn can go home to their wives and children.
I would just challenge this place to do the right thing. Regardless of what our parties think of this, all members should vote and do the right thing in supporting Bill S-217.