Fix the problem

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Bill S-217, known as Wynn’s Law, was defeated this week in the House of Commons.

The bill was named after St. Albert RCMP Const. David Wynn who was shot and killed in January 2015 by Shawn Rehn, a criminal who was out on bail despite dozens of prior convictions.

Both St. Albert MP Michael Cooper and Shelly MacInnis-Wynn vow to continue the fight and for that we applaud them. Despite Wynn’s Law failure in the House, this issue is now on the radar and hopefully the loophole can be amended in the future so we don’t see another incident like what happened in January 2015.

The push for Wynn’s Law gained national attention and raised awareness of a problem in our justice system.

“It has been a long two years but it’s worth it. If anything good can come out of what happened this has to be it,” MacInnis-Wynn said.

Though more than two dozen Liberals voted for second reading in March, they did not opt to support the bill in final reading, following a recommendation from the House justice committee.

Politics likely played a part in the defeat of Bill S-217, but many MPs were concerned that the change could cause more delays in our already overburdened justice system. Canadians need a solution that doesn’t cause further delays, but one that solves the problem Wynn’s Law was attempting to fix. Now it’s up to the government to provide one.

At its core, Wynn’s Law is common sense: an accused’s criminal record should be known during a bail hearing. Bail decisions consider whether or not a person is a risk to the public, so how is that possible without knowing the criminal past of the accused?

Cabinet minister Amarjeet Sohi, who voted against Bill S-217, told a St. Albert crowd in April that knowing an accused’s criminal past is important, but he did not want to create further delays in the justice system. Sohi noted that the entire criminal justice system is under review and so the issue could be corrected another way in the future.

MacInnis-Wynn and Cooper have helped raise awareness of this issue, even though the bill failed in the end.

Perhaps using computer technology can help address the issue, by making criminal records more accessible. Appointing more judges and providing extra funding to the justice system may also help solve the problem. Bill S-217 was one way to address the issue, but it’s not the only way.

The defeat of Bill S-217 does not need to be the end of the fight. Whatever the solution is, the government needs to make sure what happened in January 2015, when a criminal with a lengthy record was let out on bail and killed a police officer, never happens again.

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St. Albert Gazette

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